‘WOW’ students with virtual tours

Teachers invited to participate in World of Work Week online

Douglas County educators will have the chance to take their students on “virtual field trips” to learn about career and education pathways during a World of Work Week initiative March 11-14.

Douglas County Partners for Student Success is organizing the tours through Nepris and Oregon Connections, web-based tools that connect educators and students to industry professionals. By logging in to the Oregon Connections platform online, teachers can deliver the virtual field trip sessions to students right in their own classrooms.

Local employers participating in the inaugural WOW Week include Wildlife Safari and Con-Vey Keystone. Sessions will also be offered to shed light on college debt and career navigation.

“These virtual tours allow local industry experts to connect with even more students through a convenient and user-friendly platform,” said Lacey Ferguson, program consultant for DCPSS and the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub, and project director for Oregon Connections. “Our goal is to bring career pathway opportunities to as many students in Douglas County as possible so that they know how many options are available to them right here in their own community.”

Computer screen featuring E-Learning
Students can take virtual tours of Wildlife Safari and Con-Vey Keyston during Douglas County Partners for Student Success’ inaugural World of Work Week initiative.

The first session will be “Career Navigation 101,” scheduled for 10 a.m. March 11. It will be led by Dan Loomis of Umpqua Economic Development Partnership and will help guide students toward choosing meaningful and productive career pathways and introduce resources available locally for students of all ages as they begin career planning.   

“Using Innovation, Engineering, & Robots to Build Large Machinery” is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 12 and will be led by Con-Vey plant manager Travis Pritchett. Students will learn about the background of the Roseburg-based company, which engineers and manufactures custom machinery and innovative solutions for the wood products manufacturing industry. Students will learn what the process of creating large-scale machinery looks like, from conception to production. Along the tour, students will get to view different workspaces and meet employees. The presentation will also include short videos of equipment in action, an overview of careers at Con-Vey, and the career story and background of Pritchett.

“A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper” is scheduled for 1 p.m. March 12. Students will get a behind-the-scenes look at the Winston animal park and exactly what it takes to clean, feed and enrich animals’ lives. A variety of work areas will be explored, including the Horticulture Department, Critter Cafe and Dome. The tour is designed for students with an interest in the zoological sciences, wildlife conservation and animal-related careers.

At 10 a.m. March 14, Ferguson will present “What Does College Debt Really Mean?” The presentation will provide guidance on topics such as interest rates and debt management plans. Students will learn new skills to help make decisions about their future and plan for financing their college expenses.

Teachers can sign up for these tours at https://oregonconnections.nepris.com.

Ferguson said Oregon Connections is a great tool for all educators, especially in rural areas, to teach their students about a wide range of industries.

The logistics and cost of planning off-site field trips can make it difficult for many schools and classrooms to explore a wide variety of careers and industries in Douglas County.  Through the industry chats and virtual field trips offered through Oregon Connections, a large number of students can gain instant access to what careers and industries are available in Douglas County, without even having to leave their classroom. 

It also puts students in touch with career mentors both locally and throughout the country. Students can have live face-to-face conversations with professionals that couldn’t otherwise happen, especially in rural Oregon.

“These virtual opportunities shouldn’t replace in-person field trips by any means, but they provide a way to offer a higher volume of career exploration opportunities to students all over our county,” Ferguson said.   

WOW Week will be the “big splash” to introduce the concept of virtual field trips in Douglas County available through Oregon Connections. A variety of virtual field trips from across the county are also in the works for the months of April and May.

Educators who are unable to join a field trip live can always access the recorded version in the Oregon Connections Video Library through the website. 

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