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Published November 13, 2013, 07:40 PM

Northern Valley Career Expo allows teens to test-drive occupations

Sheridan Davis was one of about 1,300 high school sophomores from around the Red River Valley who participated in the 2013 Northern Valley Career Expo. The expo has grown from 19 schools in 2012, its first year, to 23 this year.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

Sheridan Davis and some of her classmates from Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg High School gathered around an Altru Health System surgery booth Wednesday at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

“We’re taking out an appendix today,” said Telissa Stumpf, an operating room registered nurse. “Actually, it’s a gummy worm. Want to try it?”

With registered nurse LuAnn Mlodzik and a camera attached to a laparoscopic grasper as guides, Davis picked up one of the worms and dropped it into a plastic container.

“It’s kind of fun,” she said after successfully completing the procedure. “I want to be either a nurse or a dentist.”

Davis was one of about 1,300 high school sophomores from around the Red River Valley who participated in the 2013 Northern Valley Career Expo. The expo has grown from 19 schools in 2012, its first year, to 23 this year, according to Eric Ripley, director of career and technical education at Grand Forks Public Schools.

Students spent a half-day at the expo, which began with a 25-minute introduction session, where they learned some basic tips about workplace values, covering topics such as employer attitudes toward body piercings and body art; about cell phone etiquette in the workplace; and about establishing work habits.

They also attended sessions on a variety of potential careers, which ranged from social work and nursing to retail management, welding, criminal justice and agribusiness.

Hands-on

The most popular features, however, were the hands-on, try-it-yourself career booths, sponsored by area schools and employers.

Riley Petersen discovered the flight simulator at the UND Aerospace booth.

After successfully landing the simulated plane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he said he is interested in potential careers in medicine or aerospace.

“I thought it was cool,” he said of the flight. “I liked the surgery box, too, where you use the tools and try to pick up things.”

A few booths away, Keith Shimpo and Ralph Dahlstrom, who are in their second years in Northland Community and Technical College’s paramedic intensive care program, enticed students to try inserting a breathing tube into a training mannequin.

“This is super gross,” said Sidney Wagner, a student from Park River, N.D., as she tried to guide the tube into the trachea, or large airway between the mouth to the lungs.

Wagner successfully completed the procedure.

“This is a career where you’ll feel good about yourself,” Shimpo said.

Wagner’s classmate, Emily Bratlie, then tried it, with less success.

“He died, unfortunately,” Shimpo said as the machine attached to the mannequin flat-lined.

Dahlstrom convinced Megan Foy to try.

“There you go,” he told the Grand Forks Central student. “He’s getting air into his lungs.”

Foy enjoyed the hands-on paramedic demonstration.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said, “but they showed me what to do. I liked it.”

While she hasn’t narrowed down her career choices, she said the expo provided some insight into what’s available.

“It gives me some options,” she said.

That, said Ripley, with Grand Forks Public Schools, is the point of the expo.

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