Linda Lewis, president of the chamber, said many area teenagers have found their career paths because of the project.
“It gives the students an opportunity to make decisions early on,” she said. “Does this program work? Yes, we have seen it work.”
Lewis said the students complete a questionnare that allows organizers to match the teens with someone in a career that suits their interest.
Lewis said the program normally involves 750 to 800 ninth-graders, but this year organizers are expecting 1,022 participating students.
Though organizers were only able to place 757 with a professional to shadow, all of the students will participate in a seminar at the Community Health Systems Activities Center and Bevill State Community College.
The event will include speeches from local business people and booths representing fields like healthcare, technology, engineering, environmental sciences and human services.
Lewis said the program not only benefits local students, but provides local workers with an opportunity to showcase their businesses.
“The ones that have tried it come back year after year,” said Pete Parrish, an organizer of the event and a past president of the chamber.
Parrish said he has helped to organize the program for at least nine years.
When asked why he has been involved with the program for almost a decade, Parrish said it’s because he would have benefited from a similar program when he was a young man.
Parrish said many students do not find the career their looking for during the job-shadowing day, but they find out what industries they’re not interested in.
“And that’s important, too,” he said.
Parrish said the job-shadowing project was established thanks to a grant Bevill State President Betsy Lavanne applied for more than 10 years ago. The chamber and local officials have kept the program operating since then, Parrish said.
He added that Walker County is one of only a few counties in the state that have such an extensive job-shadowing program.
Lewis said all of the chamber’s member want to thank the Alabama Power Company, the business community, Bevill State, PERC Engineering, local educators and all those who partnered to make the event happen.
For more information about the chamber Groundhog Day Job Shadowing program, call the chamber office at 205-384-4571.