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Iowa School’s First-Ever Career Fair Inspires Students

GARDEN GROVE, Iowa  --  Students at a small school in Decatur County say they're not taking a career fair for granted--it's the first one their school has ever held.

“Ever since we were little they were saying, 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' Astronaut, princess, cowboy, they weren't taking it very seriously, but as we got older...what do you want to be?” said 10th grader Macy Bradford.

For Bradford, the future may be a little clearer after she attended Mormon Trail's first-ever career day and got to hear from a judge.

“I wanted to be a veterinarian my entire life, but then the judge came in and he talked about how his career went, and I wanted to be a judge right then and there or a lawyer. It's amazing, it changed my entire career path,” she said.

AmeriCorps VISTA organized the career fair and said these students never had the opportunity because of where they live.

“There's no businesses to speak of in this town. It's a community of between 200 and 300 residents. So these students having access to professionals to talk about careers is really limited, so the best thing we can do is bring them in,” said Dr. Jesse Bolinger of AmeriCorps VISTA.

Businesses taking part ranged from those in the fields of healthcare to agriculture. One of the businesses was Agrivision, a farm equipment dealer with locations in nearby towns.

“We're looking for those that want to stay in the area and support agriculture and work for our locations and be involved in the community. Those things are all important,” said Agrivision Human Resources Manager Denise Williams.

That is one of the issues small Iowa towns all over the state face as more and more graduates leave for bigger cities.

"Our small towns are disappearing. Towns like Garden Grove are coming off the map, and without this generation saying, 'no, there is value in small towns,' and 'yes, I can make a difference'...that's what it's going to take,” said Bolinger.

In addition to learning about job opportunities, students also learned resume building and job interview skills.