Middle school youth explore nontraditional careers at MU

  • Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018

COLUMBIA, Mo. – More than 70 middle school students became Mizzou Tigers for a day at a nontraditional career exploration event sponsored by University of Missouri campus partners and Commerce Bank on Wednesday, April 4.

Students extracted DNA from a banana in a biochemistry lab, observed lungs inflating with oxygen during a respiratory therapy session and met a newly born lamb at an animal science workshop. Students got an up-close look at aerospace technology with a NASA turbine jet engine, experienced wonders of the world in a virtual reality engineering lab, and learned about food science and production during a visit to Buck’s Ice Cream.

MU interim Provost Jim Spain welcomed students and encouraged them to explore career interests, set goals and make big plans for their education beyond high school.

Organizers say the purpose of the career day was to expose seventh and eighth grade students to nontraditional career paths where they may find that spark of excitement and interest to guide future college and career choices. (Nontraditional careers are those in which one gender represents less than 25 percent of employment in those occupations.) Career-day tracks encouraged female students to explore agriculture, natural resource and engineering careers, and male students to consider options in health professions.

MU student ambassadors accompanied middle school students during their time on campus, which included visits to classrooms and labs of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; the College of Engineering; and the School of Health Professions. Students met with MU faculty and administrators, participated in interactive workshops and tours, and took their lunch break alongside MU students in campus dining halls.

The event hosted students from middle schools in Columbia, Hallsville, Macks Creek, Mexico, Pattonville and St. Louis.

Organizers included Heart of Missouri Regional Professional Development Center, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Career Pathways Initiative, and the University of Missouri 4-H Center for Youth Development in coordination with MU Admissions and The Connector at MU. Event organizers say planning for the next career exploration day in November is already underway.


Heart of Missouri RPDC offers high-quality professional development opportunities to mid-Missouri educators. For more information, visit education.missouri.edu/hook-center/programs.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Career Pathways Initiative builds career pathway networks that connect K-12 education, business, industry and postsecondary partners. For more information, visit dese.mo.gov/college-career-readiness/missouri-career-pathways.

The University of Missouri 4-H Center for Youth Development engages youth as valued, contributing members of their communities in partnership with caring adults. For more information, visit 4h.missouri.edu.

Photo: http://extensiondata.missouri.edu/NewsAdmin/Photos/2018/RPDC.jpg
Middle school students and teachers get ready for a day of discovery and learning at the kickoff of the nontraditional career exploration day, April 4 on the MU campus. Photo by Melissa Grindstaff, MU College of Education.

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