Written by Shelli-Kae Foster, YES! Program Director
On Wednesday, March 3, 2021 over 80 YES! (Youth Eco Solutions) students and other students from New London-Spicer, Lac qui Parle Valley, Yellow Medicine East, Willmar Public Schools, Focus House, and Westbrook-Walnut Grove logged onto zoom to learn about green jobs and how they can gain career experiences with local employers that also help the environment. The goal of the workshop was to offer students a glimpse into what a green job looks like and how-to connect with local employers. YES! (Youth Eco Solutions) Program Director, Shelli-Kae Foster kicked things off with ideas on what a green job is and how students might decide what type of job interests them. Then students went into breakout sessions determined by their region.
Local businesses included Nova-Tech Engineering, LLC, Jennie-O Turkey Store, and MNYou Inc., Tru Shrimp Companies, ADM- Carbohydrate Solutions, Granite Falls Energy, POET, and Tangent Technologies. Representatives from each company explained the types of green jobs their company offers, how students may gain work experience, and many shared their own path to a green career. One student explained that “hearing about the different companies and learning how they aim to help the environment,” was a highlight of the workshop. Another commented, “I learned what a green job is, and I hadn’t thought about that before the workshop.”
Prior to the workshop, Central Minnesota Jobs & Training Services (CMJTS) and SW Minnesota Private Industry Council held a pre- workshop session to prepare students to meet with employers the day of the event. Key areas were covered including zoom etiquette, preparing a 7-second elevator pitch on who you are and why you are interested in working for them, and finally, how to prepare appropriate questions to ask an employer. This prepared the students to meet virtually with employers the day of the event and for future opportunities they might encounter such as interviewing for a summer internship, scholarships, or a job shadow experience. One student commented that they appreciated “learning how-to act professionally with an employer,” and another stated, “it helped us on how to give a great first impression.”
At the conclusion of the workshop students were challenged to take the next step and contact a local employer and seek a green job experience. CMJTS and SWMNPIC told the students “we are here to help” and offered to assist students in connecting them with local job opportunities and experiences.
YES! empowers youth to create solutions to today’s ecological challenges through community based hands-on action projects. YES! is a program of Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in partnership with Ney Nature Center. Major funding is provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust (ENRTF), LYFT Career Pathways and CERTs.