“We were able to mentor around 930 students this year,” Chamber President, Linda Lewis, said. “We’re already getting feedback from businesses saying students this year were very informed and asked good questions. They are excited for next year and that keeps the program growing.”
Students fill out a questionnaire to assist the chamber officials in placing them with a job they might like or are considering. Some students find a new career path, while some realize reconsider the career they thought they wanted.
“Students were able to have a lot of hands-on experience and determine what they want to pursue,” Lewis said.
In addition to the 728 students chosen to shadow, there is also a job fair and seminar on careers, including speakers from local businesses. Some of the local businesses included PERC Engineering, White Pepper Realty, First Bank of Jasper, Pinnacle Bank, Bernards and many others. All together more than 50 businesses played a role in this year’s program.
“It showed me that you have to work really hard at a job to get higher in the company,” Montana Sanders, a freshman at Parrish High School, who was assigned to shadow at WalMart in Jasper, said. “It won’t be handed to you and it showed me that you have to go to college.”
Lewis stresses that, despite the fact that the Chamber pays for the event each year, it is a true partnership between the Chamber, Bevill State Community College, the businesses, the schools and even the bus drivers who transport the kids.
“It is a huge undertaking for the entire county,” Lewis said.
This is the 12th year for the Walker County Groundhog Job Shadow Day and, although many chambers across the state have similar programs, they usually aren’t as all-inclusive.
“Chambers across the state have Groundhog Job Shadow programs but we are the only one in the state that will take every single ninth grader and try to help them in their career and future,” Lewis said.