Eighth Graders Learn about Careers and Life

It was an important day for our 8th graders, that almost didn’t happen because of COVID-19. The Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, with great dedication and effort overcame the challenge the virus presented and safely held the 27th Annual 8th Grade Luncheon on March 11th at the Mountain Lodge, Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

The event is important to 8th Grade students for several reasons. It is an opportunity for them to get perhaps their first glimpse of the business world that their teachers have been preparing them for since their first day at Pre-K. It presents them with a chance to hear directly from successful business people who work in the tourism industry and to learn about that industry. Lastly, it provides them with their first chance to mingle as a group with all the other eight grade students from opposite ends of the county, with whom they will be united for the next four years as fellow members of the Class of 2025 at Pocahontas County High School.

The day is so much more then just a luncheon. It began at 10:00 a.m. when the entire group gathered in the Ballroom and received a greeting from Cara Rose, the Executive Director of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau who talked about the importance of the tourism industry to the county. She explained that it took a great partnership between the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Snowshoe Mountain Resort and the Board of Education to put on this event. Cara was followed by Coby Brown, who is the Director of Human Resources for Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Brown told the students they were about to reach a stage in their education where they will be deciding on their future careers, and she said there were a multitude of career opportunities at Snowshoe available to them.

The students then attended break-out sessions. These included one given by Shawn Cassell, the Digital Marketing and PR Manager at Snowshoe. Cassell talked about all of the management positions within the marketing division at the resort.

In another session, Lauren Bennett, the Director of the Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation talked about careers in recreation, saying they offered opportunities to have fun while you worked, but said that you still had to work hard to be successful in that field.  Bennett offered up good advice to the students, telling them they should put down their phones and talk to and learn from real people. She said the favorite part of her job is to try new things and meet new people.

The next breakout session was titled “We are the Forest Service.” Amy Lovell, an Ecologist and Botanist for the National Park Service talked about her work in the Monongahela National Forest involves invasive species, ecological restoration and pollinators. She said the Mon Forest covers portions of 10 counties in West Virginia and occupies just under 1 million acres of land.  Tiffany Verlander talked about her job in the Mon Forest as a Cartographic Technician. Brianna Gibson talked about her job as a Wildlife Technician in which she does wildlife surveys in the Mon Forest as well as works to protect threatened and endangered species there.  Julia Derringer, an AmeriCorps worker in the Mon Forest described her work there establishing an Appalachian National Heritage area.

Each of the presenters gave the students their educational and work backgrounds.

At noon the groups reassembled in the Ballroom where attending business leaders were introduced and a great lunch was served, followed by the keynote talk by Kenneth Gaitor, the Vice President of Operations at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Gaiter told his story in which at one time in his life he was penniless but worked hard in low paying jobs at several ski resorts before landing at Snowshoe and through hard work he rose from operating a ski lift to becoming VP of Operations.

The students left not only with a better understanding of the opportunities available to them in their future careers, but also with a lot of tips about what they need to do to get and be successful in those good jobs.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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