Most tweens and teens might be focused on the rides, prizes, food and each other at the N.C. State Fair, but a new exhibit could help them think a bit about their future too.
Cultivate a Career focuses on the wide variety of career paths in the agriculture industry - everything from meat packers to biological scientists to computer specialists and more.
"There's more than just driving a tractor," exhibit manager Chris Droessler tells me.
Visitors can go on an interactive career personality scavenger hunt, starting with a career assessment. They'll learn whether they're a "doer" or a "thinker," "a "creator" or a "helper" or a combination of one of these and other interests. They'll also learn about the different pathways such as "agribusiness systems" or "natural resource systems."
From there, they can learn more about the various careers through videos and other exhibits. Signs across the exhibit include the educational requirements, salary and demand for a variety of jobs.
Droessler said exhibit planners expected it would draw middle schoolers and high schoolers as they map out their future. But the exhibit also has seen many older adults, who are seeking new careers.
"I feel like I'm really making a difference in people's lives here," he told me.
The exhibit includes representatives from the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, high school career development counselors, N.C. State University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the Biofuels Center of North Carolina and more. Students involved in FFA greet visitors at the door.
Kids in middle school and up will take away the most from this exhibit. During my visit through the exhibit, I saw a number of teens taking the time to fill out the career assessment. If you have younger children, I'd highly recommend the Field of Dreams exhibit next to Dorton Arena where they can learn how food gets from the farm to the dinner table.
Cultivate a Career is located near Gate 11 off Blue Ridge Road and open daily from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Watch the video to hear more from Droessler and to see some scenes of the exhibit, which is free with fair admission.
If you can't make it to the fair, there are online resources too. Click here for more information.
The N.C. State Fair in Raleigh is open through Sunday. See the box above for more tips if you're headed to the fair with kids.