Local industries, businesses offer glimpse of future careers to seventh through 12th graders.

What will the future hold in store for today's students when it comes time to select a career? Thanks to a group of area industries and businesses approximately 20 students have this week been given a glimpse of potential careers.

The middle- and high-school-aged youngsters have been participating in a Mark Twain S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Camp.

“It's all been pretty fun,” said Peyton Abbott, who will be a junior at Palmyra High School in the upcoming school year. “I think it's a really neat experience to see how people in the real world work and see how things actually run. It's a little different experience from inside the classroom.”

Caden Selle of Hannibal, who is entering the eighth grade, has also enjoyed this week's experience.

“I think it's pretty fun. I've learned a lot so far about the variety of jobs there are and what you can do with your degree,” he said.

Both Selle and Abbott would highly recommend the camp.

“It's fun and you get to learn a lot,” said Selle.

“It puts your foot in the water for engineering and there's plenty of career choices for engineering out there,” added Abbott. “If you even have a little speck (of interest) that you want to be an engineer it would definitely be worth going to S.T.E.M. Camp to see how things work.”

Melissa Lanham, an engineer at Watlow who is involved in the S.T.E.M. program, is not surprised by the positive reviews the camp receives.

“I've seen kids at most of the locations during the summer camp and they're having a great time,” she said.

On Thursday students were at Watlow, which began hosting such outreaches four years ago, according to Lanham.

“We're happy to host this kind of larger endeavor,” she said. “It's one of our major milestones.”

One of the key lessons Lanham hopes campers took away from Watlow is the importance of teamwork.

“It's important for them to know that there's no more solo missions. You're going to be working with teams. Watlow is all about teamwork. We have designers working with engineers, working with production, working with the tool and dye making machine shop. We're all working together to get a product out the door. We're hoping to give these kids that vision today,” she said.

When it comes to this week's S.T.E.M. Camp Watlow was not working alone. Other host sites were General Mills, Northeast Power, Spartan Light Metals, Klingner and Hannibal-LaGrange University.

“What each company is trying to do is highlight a little bit about what's special about that company,” she said. “We're trying to give them exposure to all the S.T.E.M. careers out there.”

While initially open to just Hannibal youngsters, the program now welcomes anyone within commuting distance.

“We've got some kids from Palmyra. We've even got a kid from Iowa,” said Lanham, who hopes to see the program reach out even further. “We're hoping to get more kids from other counties. We want to hit Monroe, Bowling Green, Louisiana and Clopton. Mark Twain, we want to keep incorporated as well. Eventually I want to hit homeschool kids as well. I think this would be a really good thing for them. We haven't crossed the river yet.”

Lanham, who attended Clopton High School in Pike County, recognizes the importance of S.T.E.M. Camp.

“I never got this experience. I would have loved going to these camps, which are free of charge to the students,” she said. “We want to hit a radius of schools, especially the rural areas that don't get to see industries in action. For the kids to go on site is really a pretty neat thing.”


Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com