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Students explore nontraditional careers at Extreme Tech

After two years with the Minnesota Conservation Corps, Kate Kvale of Bemidji is pursuing a career that matches her love for the outdoors.

The Northwest Technical College student, who is studying forest technology, helped introduce her future career to female high school students last week at Extreme Tech.

The annual event drew 120 area high school students to the college Friday to explore career choices in nontraditional fields. Male students explored careers in young child care, dental assisting and medical practices office management, and female students learned about auto service technology, model making, fire service and forestry careers.

"Extreme Tech, I think, is a marvelous opportunity," said Pam Stowe, instructor of child care and education and young child education at NTC. "This is such a gift to get the women into the nontraditional and the men into the nontraditional."

Stowe presented a session for male students on young child care that introduced them to hands-on math activities designed for early childhood.

"We need men in the field so badly," said Stowe, noting that many children don't have a positive male role model in their lives. "It's a very dominantly female field."

Down the hall, NTC forestry instructor Mark Jensen led a session on forestry for female students. After giving them an overview of forestry, he had them do an activity that involved identifying tree species.

"This is great," he said. "It looks like they're having fun."

"I think it's great to see girls getting into these kinds of fields," added Kvale, who assisted with the session.

Twila MacDonald, a sophomore at Voyageurs Expeditionary High School, said Extreme Tech provided her with insight into her interests.

"It's giving me a glimpse of what I like and don't like," she said, noting that she enjoyed the model making and fire service sessions.

VEHS sophomore Jenna Roy attended the fire service session as well.

"We learned that women can also be firefighters," she said.

Sebeka High School sophomore Sam Eckman said the careers he learned about at Extreme Tech are ones he wouldn't normally consider. But, he said, they were fun.

Kathy Ferrin, a retired Red Lake High School career education instructor, accompanied the school's female students to sessions at Extreme Tech.

"We're just seeing wonderful things," she said. "They were checking oil and tire pressure. Then they went to the fire services program and learned what it would be like to be a firefighter (as) a woman. It's just exciting to see the students have hands-on experiences."

Ferrin said she hopes students will consider nontraditional careers.

"There's no barriers anymore," she said.