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Students at Parchment Middle School Participate in first Skilled Trades Fair

More than 100 students in seventh grade at Parchment Middle School participated in the first Skilled Trades Fair on Wednesday, Nov. 9. This career event was hosted in collaboration with Kalamazoo RESA Career Connect and the Home Builders Association of West Michigan.

Employers from eight areas of work in the professional skilled trades

Girl writing on a notepad

 industry were present to provide a hands-on activity for each group of students. Organizations on site that day included The Home Builders Association of West Michigan, Hawks Hollow Builders, Owen, Ames and Kimball, Dan Wood Company & Plumbers, NewCraft Cabinetry, Eikenhout Construction, and Carter Contracting.  

Each student group visited a booth for about seven minutes, where they were able to ask questions, hear directly from the local professionals about what their job entails and do hands-on activities.

The goal of the event was to bring exposure and awareness to students about a variety of jobs and careers in the professional skilled trades. Many of these roles require varying levels of education after high school including training, certification, or on-the-job training.  

Nora Snead, counselor at Parchment Middle School who planned this career awareness event, said that students enjoyed participating in the hands-on activities that employers set up, such as painting and building a cabinet. 

“It is beneficial for students to be exposed to a variety of careers that require varying levels of training. Our career awareness and exploration programming helps students connect what they can do in high school to a future career they may be interested in,” said Snead. “It is important for students to know they do not have to go to college to find a great career with local employers. Plus, I feel like we are helping the community when we do career events like these because employers get to network with the future skilled workers they need, since many industries are hurting for workers and our students are their future.”  

Students found this opportunity helpful because they were able to learn about different career options, specific skills needed in those industries, and varying education options—all while getting exposure to local businesses and their employees. 

Snead is no stranger when it comes to organizing career awareness events like this Skilled Trades Fair for her students. Speaking about Snead’s passion for her middle school students, Dawn Pincumbe, Career Development Consultant with KRESA Career Connect, had plenty of praise to share.  

“Nora is one of our rockstar Career Champions. She is in year two of the Career Champions Fellowship that is put on by our Career Awareness & Exploration team,” said Pincumbe. “This year Parchment has brought several additional teammates from their district on to join our fellowship, as they are trying to align grades K-12. The Skilled Trades Fair is just one example of the great things that Nora does for her middle school students!” 

For more information about KRESA Career Connect, visit: