Rantoul school’s first career day gets kids thinking about their future | Education

RANTOUL — Some youngsters already know what they want to do for a living. Two dressed as astronauts, and another as a SWAT team member Friday, career day at Broadmeadow Elementary.

Most other youngsters have to figure out what their life’s work will be.

The Rantoul school’s first career day sought to help give them a taste of the options.

Among the things they learned:

➜ There is math involved in being a utility-line worker.

  • Calves don’t give milk.
  • Education requirements vary depending on what level of nursing a person wants to reach.

Vocations ranging from bank employee to photographer to mail carrier and factory worker were covered.

Paraprofessional Sarah Bice said one of the “fan favorites” at the career day was the Paxton-based Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative presentation by fourth-year apprentice line workers Jay Eshleman and Reese Snider.

The goal for the career day will be to invite different vocational representatives each year so “the kids won’t see the same thing in the time they’re here,” Bice said. “We tried to do it from everything you need a college education for right down to a factory worker that you could walk right out of high school and do.”

Giving presentations could at times be a challenge due to the age of the audience.

“We take care of people’s power out in the country,” Eshleman told one class.

“Hey, my grandma lives out in the country,” responded one student.

“Is that a Taser?” another student queried.

There’s not much use for Tasers in the electrical industry.

Eshleman said his day runs from 7 am to 3 pm, but they can be called out at all hours due to a power outage, including the middle of the night or on Christmas Day when their families are opening presents.

The pay makes up for the headaches — a line worker can earn anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000 a year.

Eshleman said math is important in their line of work.

“A lot of people drive up, they see us working out in the field, they see a big truck and us using our hands, they don’t think we have to think too much,” he said. “Math is very very important for our jobs.

“We have to be able to calculate different things. We have to know multiple measurements to keep things a certain distance apart to keep us safe. We have to know angles of which way to put wire down so it will hold a pole up.”

Rantoul resident Monica Hall, who has a doctorate in nursing, spoke to students about that profession — “the different levels of education needed.”

“Some people,” Hall said, “especially children, get confused about how much education is needed to be a nurse.”

Hall said there are a variety of jobs where a nurse can find employment from teaching, which she does at Illinois Wesleyan University, to working at a hospital or nursing home to being a traveling nurse.

The more education a nurse has, the higher the salary they can command.

“I always say that if you see a nurse who says they do not like being a nurse, it’s because they haven’t found the type of nursing they like,” she said. “I just want the students to understand that a career in nursing is limitless.”

Kevin Jethrow, a full-time substitute teacher whose second job is graphic design, spoke to a group of third-graders about the latter subject.

“I’m a teacher by day, a superhero by night,” Jethrow said.

“No you’re not,” came the response.

One student’s basic question: “How do you make this stuff?”

Jethrow explained that he uses software programs. Blender, for instance, is a free, open-source program for creating animated films, visual effects, motion graphics and other effects.

“Some of your shirts have graphics, Spider-Man, right? That was done by a graphic designer,” Jethrow said.

He said cartoons were an influence on him going into graphic design.

“I actually really enjoy creating stuff when people see ideas in their head come to life,” he said. “Whatever comes in my mind, I can create. You can do that.”

University of Illinois junior Destiny Newlin, a Gifford native who is studying animal science and also works at the UI Dairy Farm, told first-graders her goal is to manage a dairy farm.

“I did not have any cattle experience before this,” Newlin said. “To work on the university farm, you either have to have a bachelor’s degree or be a current student.”

Newlin dressed as she would to work on the dairy farm, including large boots.

“There are so many things on a farm that are exciting,” Newlin said. “Stuff like a new calf was born. How do I help it get used to life and stay healthy? A cow falls down. How do you problem-solve it that it is as tall as me when standing and weighs thousands of pounds? You can’t just pick them up like your cat and dog. Or the cow has gotten out of the pen. How do you get it back?

Newlin showed them a milking machine and said, “It can milk cows a lot faster than me” — in about 10 minutes compared with about 30 minutes by hand.

She also answered a number of questions. Some were even related to the dairy farm.

“Can you name a cow Betsy?” one first-grader asked.

Of course you can.

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