David Storie, brought a four-week-old goat from his farm  and encouraged students to be willing to try something new. (Staff photo by Phyllis McLaughlin/pmclaughlin@madisoncourier.com)
David Storie, brought a four-week-old goat from his farm and encouraged students to be willing to try something new. (Staff photo by Phyllis McLaughlin/pmclaughlin@madisoncourier.com)
“Don’t be afraid to try new things.”

While that wasn’t the official theme of Friday’s Career Fair at Madison Junior High School, it was a message that speaker David Storie most wanted the seventh-graders from Madison and Southwestern Middle School to hear.

Storie was one of 24 speakers from the community who visited MJHS to talk to students about their own careers, how they prepared for their careers and the skills they still need to learn and maintain.

“It’s a great community event for kids,” said MJHS counselor Betsy Sullivan.

She explained that the students attended two breakout sessions in the morning, based on their “interest inventory” assessment taken online at Indiana Career Explorer. Those interests are divided into six categories, which offer “a broader, more teachable career model,” she said. Career categories include conventional, realistic, investigative, artistic, social and enterprising.

For example, “art can be everything from a graphic designer to a tattoo artist to a fine artist to an interior designer. The realm is large under ‘artistic,’” Sullivan explained.

Storie offered advice based on “realistic” careers, which focus on practical, hands-on, physical activities with tangible results, such as building, repairing objects or mechanical things, and working outside.

Storie brought in part of a bee hive to show how honey is collected by bee keepers, which was something he said his son had decided to try. He also talked about how his daughter decided to raise chickens to sell eggs. The showstopper was the family’s four-week-old goat, which represents another venture they are experimenting with on their farm.

Storie is a safety environmentalist at Arvin Sango, but said when he was in school he thought he wanted to be a meteorologist. “Don’t get set in your head what you think you want to do.”

Storie encouraged the students to get involved in FFA and 4-H, two programs where they can explore their interests outside of school. “You can learn so much stuff.”

Natalie Green of Madison Chemical talked about her “investigative” career as a chemist, and told the students one of the keys to being successful at work is knowing how to communicate with people at any level. She said it’s important to know how to talk to other chemists, but she also has to know how to explain complex chemistry-related issues to others she works with who don’t have a degree in chemistry.

She said her job also requires her to be a life-long learner because she has to do a lot of research to solve problems.

Trevor Crafton represented the “enterprising” category, talking about his work as chief operating officer at Mother’s Grilled Wings, a Madison-based food company.

“It’s tough for a small guy from Madison, Indiana, to fight against these big guys with 100 million customers,” like Tyson and other food giants, he said. “We just want 200,000 of those customers, but they don’t want us to have them. So we provide something healthy” – high-grade chicken with no additives.

The Career Fair is designed to get seventh-graders thinking about the future, because as eighth-graders they have to design a four-year plan for college before the end of the year.

Eighth-grader Hannah Rutledge, who this year was a volunteer helping to organize the Career Fair, said she enjoyed the event last year and found it helpful.

“I wasn’t sure what I was wanting to do yet,” she said, and having to really think about the future this year has been helpful. “I had a couple of careers picked out, but wasn’t sure. Art was one of those,” and for now, she is leaning toward becoming an author.

“Even if I know what I want to take for freshman year, I have to start thinking about all four years,” she said. “It’s going to help me decide what classes to take each year, that way I fit everything in all four years. ... It helps you make sure you’re taking the right classes for the diploma you want to get.”