GAINING EARLY AWARENESS AND READINESS FOR UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS (GEAR UP)

Kiona Benton GEAR UP: Fire Fighters for the Day

Throughout the month of March, KiBe GEAR UP students have been able to explore many different career paths.  The most recent trip allowed students to explore becoming a student at Columbia Basin College (CBC) in the Fire Science or EMT program.  After a tour of the CBC campus, students gathered in a room to learn about the CBC admissions process and types of financial aid offered.  Josh, our student ambassador, was very informative and answered excellent and relevant questions KiBe students had.  Students learned about many of the different types of jobs one can have on campus through work study and that there is no minimum GPA required to be accepted into the college.  Josh informed the students about the huge difference in cost between a community college and a university as well why he liked the idea of going to a community college before transferring to a university—it is a nice stepping stone. 

After our visit to the college, we traveled to the Benton County Fire Department District #2, which continues to be incredibly supportive of helping the students of KiBe determine their future paths.  First, students sat in the department’s meeting room and learned about the basics of the job.  Much to the contrary of the job title, the fire fighters admitted that these days about only 10% of their job involves fighting fires.  The majority of their time is spent assisting on emergency calls and administering medical aid.  Thus it is of utmost importance that someone getting into the profession be a certificated EMT. Then the 3 fire fighters’ shared their individual paths.  Two things were heavily emphasized to the students: stay on a straight path and keep a clean record and the resident program is a great way to get your foot in the door in a very competitive field.  The resident program at District #2 means that an eligible adult will be allowed to live at the station rent-free, receive a small monthly stipend, gain on the job training, and receive further education through the college at no expense to the resident. 

The most exciting part of the day was exploring the station and vehicles.  Students were shown the dorms the residents live in, the common area, and the vehicle garage.  The fire fighters explained all the different equipment used and even allowed the students to put on their equipment.  During the fire fighters’ 48 hour shift, when a call comes in, they are expected to get fully dressed in under 2 minutes.  The students learned the motto of the fire department: two hands, two tools, not including yourself.  It is expected that the fire fighters utilize all their strength to be as prepared for the call as possible.  Students were even allowed to hop inside of the fire truck to feel what it’s like to be in that seat on a call and climbed into the back of the ambulance. 

Perhaps the most important fun fact we learned: remember the next time you are talking to a fire fighter that there IS a difference between a fire truck and a fire engine.  A truck has the large ladder on top of it, while an engine does not.

 

Kiona-Benton GEAR UP Travels to Mercer Canyons

Many of the students at Kiona-Benton High School have an interest in agriculture, but do not know of many agriculture opportunities that require post-secondary education in their area. To remedy this dilemma, GEAR UP at KiBe partnered with Mercer Canyons, who opened their doors to our students.

At Mercer, four field supervisors spoke to our students about their college degrees and how they apply their education to their current position. The field supervisors explained the usefulness of a degree revolving around agriculture and the job outlook for the field. The take away message from the Mercer spokesmen was that a degree can open more doors, but you still get to enjoy the perks of farming. The field supervisors were extremely passionate about their jobs and it was evident to our students.

One of the exciting things about a career in agriculture that was relayed to cohort students was the advancements in technology that help make the job a lot easier. One of the field supervisors whipped out his smart phone and displayed his newest app for the students. The app allowed the supervisor to view the amount of water in the soil and if a graph showed a low percentage in red, he could turn on the sprinklers via the app. Another technology Mercer Canyons was adopting was an irrigation system that allowed the perfect amount of water to be distributed to the crops that needed it the most. Both of these technologies have helped Mercer Canyons with conservation efforts.

Once students heard from the field supervisors in their board room, they were then taken to their shop. The shop housed all of the various tractors needed to be most efficient. The tractors were equipped with the latest GPS systems that helped field workers navigate the fields and basically drove themselves. These tractors help produce hundreds of thousands of crops such as garlic, carrots, and corn for Mercer Canyons.

After the shop, GEAR UP travelled to a carrot field. This hands on part allowed students to see the application of what the supervisors were explaining in the board room. The beauty surrounding the carrot field was an added perk. While we only spent 4 hours at the 7,000 acre farm, we all learned so much about the production of our food and career pathways students can get involved in. 

GEAR UP Builds a College-Going Culture at KiBe

In the year that site manager Alyse Pivovarnik has been here, she has put forth great efforts to establish a strong college-going culture at Kiona-Benton High School. Some of the major efforts include the GEAR UP Ambassador program, posters of staff educational journeys, placing posters of important deadlines around the school, increasing individual advising, and creating a GEAR UP showcase.

The GEAR UP Ambassador program kicked off the school year with freshman orientation. Ambassadors received training and had the opportunity to mentor their ninth grade peers at the orientation. The ambassadors meet occasionally during lunch to receive updates regarding college deadlines and GEAR UP activities.  They are also instrumental in sharing the student perspective to ensure what GEAR UP does is relevant to their needs, desires, and interests.  In the spring, the ambassadors will be charged with putting together a community service opportunity for themselves and their peers.

To emphasize the importance of a baccalaureate degree, GEAR UP surveyed teachers about their college experience. During National GEAR UP week, GEAR UP placed the posters outside of the teachers’ classroom and teachers briefly explained their college experience to students. Teachers have left their posters up and all students have had a chance to read them. Conferences are quickly approaching and parents will also be able to read about the education their child’s teacher received.

GEAR UP also placed posters of important deadlines around the school. One poster listed the SAT/ACT registration deadlines and test dates, while another listed the application deadlines for various colleges.  One was created to let all students know they should not wait to apply for scholarships and offered three websites to visit to get started.  These posters were crucial, visual reminders for seniors, but also showed underclassmen different deadlines for schools they may be interested in.

Another big initiative Alyse has undertaken was making sure that GEAR UP staff provided advising to cohort students. During advising, GEAR UP surveyed cohort students and asked about post-secondary plans, colleges or universities they are considering, study interests, career interests, SAT/ACT plans, and different categories students might need help/more information on. GEAR UP staff Ashley Myers and Alyssa Carrillo have used this data in initial advising as well as follow-up advising.  The data from the surveys has been beneficial in ensuring KiBe GEAR UP is providing field trips based on interest.

The latest initiative the GEAR UP team has undertaken was recognizing the achievements of OVP II cohort seniors. In partnership with Kiona-Benton High School, GEAR UP was granted access to use a showcase. In that showcase, seniors’ college acceptance letters were posted for the entire school to see and it was decorated with college pennants.  KiBe GEAR UP wishes to celebrate the accomplishments of those seniors while demonstrating to the younger students that “Yes, KiBe students do go to college!”

These efforts have helped create a college-going culture outside of the GEAR UP room. The discussions regarding post-secondary education are now more frequent throughout the entire Kiona-Benton High School.  There has been a dramatic increase of services under site manager Alyse Pivovarnik and the GEAR UP program has been a strong influence in helping OVP II seniors and OVP III freshmen and sophomores plan for the future.

GEAR UP Students Explore Tri-Tech Programs & Beyond

Tri TechKiona-Benton GEAR UP partnered with Tri-Tech to take students to their open house event on January 29, 2015. At the event, students heard from Tri-Tech professionals about the various courses offered. Students also had a chance to meet with various colleges, STEM career professionals, and technical career professionals.

One unique opportunity students heard about was the internship and career pathways Bonneville Power Administration had to offer. Bonneville Power Administration is a federal, nonprofit agency that wholesales electrical power generated from different hydro projects (dams). The representative talked to our students about the increasing demand for engineers, accountants, information technology specialists, and fish and wildlife conservation specialists.

Tri TechAnother unique program students heard about was the company, Areva. Areva is a world leader in nuclear power and is based in Richland, WA. The representatives explained their job duties and answered all the various questions our students had.

Walla Walla Community College was on hand and explained in detail their John Deere and Diesel Technology programs. In partnership, the company RDO Equipment was on hand to explain how they hire new graduates coming from both of those programs. RDO Equipment also talked to students about tuition reimbursement once they are hired for their company.

All branches of the military were there to answer questions about the ROTC program and how students can use the military to earn their degree.

The Tri-Tech open house event also offered hands on experience for students. Ki-Be students explored construction trades and even got to work with some power tools under the supervision of other Tri-Tech students.

Overall, the event was a wonderful showcase of Tri-Tech’s programs and different career pathways the region has to offer.

KiBe Seniors Explore Transfer Options in the Spokane Area

On Friday, January 16, KiBe GEAR UP seniors, having just finished semester finals, boarded the bus in the morning relieved to be that much closer to graduation and excited to further explore their post-high school options.  Our overnight visit began with a visit to Spokane Community College (SCC).  At SCC, the seniors endured the cold as snow covered the ground around them to receive a campus tour.  Afterward, they had a presentation on meeting the different degree requirements and financial aid facts.  Students learned about how to utilize the SCC website in order to identify what classes at SCC transferred to the university of their choice.  Seniors were engaged and asked questions about various programs offered. 

After enjoying lunch at Panda Express, students were offered a wonderful presentation at Washington State University Spokane that included an admissions overview, breakout sessions with the nursing,
athletic trainer, and speech and language pathology programs, a student panel, and a hands-on look at what students in the nursing program do.  Students were divided into groups to hear from professors as well as students in the three programs.  Seniors were allowed to go into the nursing lab that housed many dummies.  They met Thelma, a patient, controlled by another person behind a window.  Thelma was as close to a human being as possible it seemed!  She breathed, had an identifiable pulse, blinked her eyes, talked, coughed, and even made guttural noises that could be heard with a stethoscope.  Students were invited to listen to her lungs and stomach with stethoscopes, check for her pulse, and even practice CPR when she stopped breathing!  The program WSU Spokane put together for the students went above and beyond to not only let the students hear about general information, but see and practice what it truly feels like to be a student there.

After an exciting, hands-on visit to WSU Spokane, students again boarded the bus, this time heading to Whitworth University.  At Whitworth, students learned what life at Whitworth might be like if they were attending Jan-term.  Snow covered the ground as we toured the campus learning about the option to attend a Jan-term class, which lasted 3 hours daily or to attend a Jan-term study abroad experience.  Upon completion of our tour around campus, students received further admissions information from a Whitworth alumnus, CJ Perry, who enjoyed his experience as a student so much that he now works for the university as an admissions counselor.  After eating dinner at Red Robin, which some students had never been to, we checked into the Ramada Inn at 8pm leaving the students 2 hours to enjoy the indoor swimming facilities at the hotel before lights out. 

On Saturday, after breakfast at the hotel, we ventured to Eastern Washington University (EWU) where we spent several hours not only learning about what EWU has to offer, but also general college selection information.  Randy Corradine, Diversity Outreach Coordinator at EWU, shared his family history, what it was like being the first in his family to attend college, as well as some of the things he learned from his mentor about choosing the right college.  Students were engaged as they were able to hear from someone whose experience they might be able to relate to or learn from.  Before leaving for the campus tour, Randy challenged the students to define “university.”  While the students came up with wonderful definitions, they were not quite what Randy was looking for, but he acknowledged the validity and power the students possessed in being able to come up with clear definitions in their groups.  After the campus tour, students ate lunch in Baldy’s Food Court among actual college students.  Figuring out how to discard their trays, plates, and trash proved to be a learning experience for the students—one that they were able to accomplish.  KiBe seniors then returned to the classroom to learn about how to best determine college fit using EWU’s VOCAL acronym (Value, Opportunity, Community, Academics, Location).  Randy emphasized that the students need to find the school that works best for them as individuals.  Randy also wanted the students to focus in on their dreams as he gave them a handout to identify their dream career along with 3 action steps they need to take in order to achieve that dream.  Following Randy’s presentation, Site Manager, Alyse Pivovarnik, and College and Career Planning Specialist, Ashley Myers worked with the students on how to navigate choosing classes at any college or university to ensure they are meeting the requirements to complete their degree.  After a quick pit-stop for dinner at the Pita Pit in Pasco, students were excited to be home.  Students reported that this trip opened their eyes to greater possibilities.  One student said she is now considering continuing her education beyond cosmetology school after having attended this trip while another said he is now more interested in EWU.   

KiBe GEAR UP would like to give a big thank you to Becki Meehan at WSU Spokane, Randy Corradine at EWU, Ramona Barhorst at Spokane Community College, CJ Perry at Whitworth University and KiBe GEAR UP’s own Ashley Myers for putting together a wonderful visit for the students!  

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