LYNDONVILLE -- More than 600 eighth grade students from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont recently learned about the state's emerging industries and career paths at the Learn to Earn career event, hosted by Navicate on April 10 at Lyndon State College. The half-day program featured guest speakers, panel presentations and workshops designed to teach students about careers available after high school or college graduation.

For more than a decade, Learn to Earn events have taken place across the state, but this is the first time the event has been offered in the Northeast Kingdom. According to Rich Tulikangas, Navicate executive director, the program emphasizes the importance of STEM (science, technology, math and communication) coursework and its relation to job opportunities for all students to help plan their transitions to college and careers after high school.

Local professionals participated in the workshops and helped students gain perspective about available career opportunities. The guest presenters represented a variety of industries including manufacturing, entrepreneurship, nursing, wood products manufacturing and forestry. Local Plum Creek foresters hosted hands-on workshops to teach students about forestry and the education required for the career.

"The forest products industry is one of the state's largest and most historic industries," said Mark Doty, Plum Creek community affairs manager. "The industry employs thousands of people in Vermont and career opportunities meet a wide variety of interests. Students can pursue jobs as foresters, forest technicians, loggers, biologists, engineers, operators and more."

The Plum Creek Foundation also contributed a $5,000 grant to fund the event.

"Thanks to the help of the Plum Creek Foundation and our many employee presenters, we were able to introduce local students to a variety of different career paths," said Tulikangas. "Students left the event with a greater sense of the opportunities available to them, and can use this knowledge to guide their high school course choices."

In 2013, the Learn to Earn program took place in 35 different middle schools and was attended by more than 4,500 students. Navicate's mission is to improve the educational success and career prospects for youth through school, business and community partnerships. For more information, visit www.navicate.org.

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