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11/07/2014

Introducing High School Students to Careers in the Chemical Industry

By Carolyn Watkins, Chief of the Ohio EPA Office of Environmental Education

Where will the next generation of chemists and chemical engineers come from? Would you be willing talk to students at a local school about your career? Would your facility be willing to host a field trip, or let a high school or college student shadow you for a day? Most high school students, and even teachers and career counselors, have little understanding of the wide variety of things that chemical and environmental professionals do, or the training and skills required.

The Ohio EPA has been working with the Ohio State University (OSU) School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Environmental Education Council of Ohio (EECO) to recruit environmental career ambassadors who would be willing to talk one-on-one with students about their careers, make an occasional classroom presentation or participate in local school career days. A brochure about the program is posted at https://eeco.wildapricot.org/Resources/Documents/ECA%20brochure.pdf.

Do you have internships or shadowing opportunities for high school or college students? Could you help recruit other career ambassadors? OSU is providing the software platform for the database of career ambassadors through its Environmental Professionals Network (EPN) at http://epn.osu.edu. The EPN is an online community connecting Ohio professionals in:

We encourage you to join EPN. Members share information; announce events and training opportunities; post and seek jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities; and find collaborators for projects. The network is not limited to OSU faculty and alumnae. Beginning soon, teachers and career counselors will be able to search the EPN database to find professionals willing to share career information with students.

If you are willing to take the next step and be a career ambassador, when you set up your EPN member profile, simply check any of the Career Ambassador activities you might want to be involved in. Teachers and career counselors will search the database by county to find local ambassadors. Depending on what activities you selected, a teacher may contact you with an invitation to speak or schedule a field trip. Short on time? Not sure you would be good at speaking to young people? You only sign up for what you’re comfortable doing, and you always have the opportunity to say no to any request. We are working to recruit 500 ambassadors statewide so there are some available in every county. We particularly need volunteers who are willing to work with schools in some of the more rural counties.

If you have questions or would like to help develop the ambassador network, please contact Carolyn.Watkins@epa.ohio.gov.

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