Emporia High Students Experience Westar Careers
Eight Emporia High School students spent a day learning about energy production and the types of jobs available in the industry. The students were selected by Westar Energy to participate in a job shadowing day as part of the company’s Optimize Your Future campaign.
Westar representatives visited Flint Hills Technical College earlier in the year to talk to high school and technical college students about career opportunities in the field. Students who were interested in further career exploration signed up for interviews to be considered for job shadowing, according to Troy Chapman, one of four EHS guidance counselors.
Students who attended were: juniors Alex Bedolla and Jacob Steinlage and sophomores William Dyer; Jennifer Garcia, Oscar Martinez, Chad Moberly, Keyghan Reed and Dominik Weidner. All eight students arrived with different interests and expectations of the day, and at least six students ended the day with a greater desire to consider a career in energy production or system maintenance. The day included a tour of the coal-powered plant, climbing power poles, learning about safety in the field, and hearing about career options.
“I went in wanting to be a lineman and came out wanting to be a plant operator,” said Chad Moberly.
Several students enjoyed climbing power poles and noted the amount of strength needed to do that job; many also were impressed with the control room where plant operations were monitored.
“I was interested in becoming a lineman,” Oscar Martinez said. “When we got to the power station, it was way different than I expected. I enjoyed seeing all the components that go into making energy.”
The day helped convince Oscar he wants to enroll in the Power Plant Technology Program at FHTC. “It’s definitely something I want to go into.”
Keyghan Reed described the day as an “incredible experience to go out and see what it’s actually like. Really experiencing it hands-on made me want to learn more about the world of a power plant operator. I know it’s something that’s a good option.”
Chapman took a group of students earlier this year to the wind energy plant at Corcordia and he hopes to schedule a trip to the Jeffrey Energy Center at St. Mary’s later in the spring.
He said he is pleased that students are taking advantage of Westar’s educational programs, that will help the company build a workforce to replace a large group soon-to-retire.
The Westar job shadowing project fits nicely with the pathways being created for EHS students in a variety of career fields. EHS now has a dozen career pathways, with Law and Public Safety being added this year. That pathway will include courses leading to fire science and law enforcement. Next fall, the school plans to add an agriculture and plant science pathway.