For decades, schools in rural Umatilla and Morrow counties have experienced declining high school graduation and college-going rates. More support and resources are needed for high school students to be prepared for college or choosing a career.
In response, Oregon State University Extension 4-H Youth Development and Open Campus joined forces with local partners to develop a virtual college and career fair to serve both youth and adults of eastern Oregon in an engaging, secure and virtually-accessible way: Career Connect Day. In planning for the event, it became clear that adults in the community and job seekers also need support in these areas, along with ninth through 12th grade students.
On April 28, 2021, the first Career Connect Day brought together students in Umatilla and Morrow counties, as well as adult job seekers. The fair included an inspiring keynote speaker, as well as representatives of eight universities and community colleges and 19 local employers. Trade school, internship and local career opportunities were also presented.
Career Connect Day used a virtual platform that offered the opportunity to rewatch any of the recorded sessions, as well as view numerous college and career development resources and videos. The event was a partnership between Open Campus, 4-H, the Port of Morrow, and the Boardman Chamber of Commerce.
As a result, 200 students and job seekers attended Career Connect Day. Many expressed that this was their first opportunity to receive information about college, trade schools, internships and careers.
Of the attendees, 76% of the students stated that going to college was important to them, 69% felt more prepared to attend college after Career Connect Day and 63% of job seekers learned information about employment, career and internship opportunities in their area.