College and Career Fair offers Amboy students a chance to learn about different options available

AMBOY – Not everyone knows what they want for lunch.

Some people can’t decide their favorite color, their favorite vacation spot, what movie they want to watch on a Thursday night, or what sport to watch when professional baseball, basketball, and football are all being played at the same time.

And not everyone knows what they want to do next in life after high school is over.

Amboy High School may have some answers for junior high and high school students at 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m., on Sept 26 when it hosts its second annual College and Career Fair. 

 “We want our students to be able to see different jobs that are out there in our area because a lot of them only know the jobs that their close family members have,” said Amboy High School Principal Janet Crownhart. “They might not be interested in being an accountant or a lawyer. Maybe mom and dad have always worked minimum wage jobs and they don’t want to work a minimum wage job, but they don’t know what is available.

“Some of our goals are to show them what is available in our area, so they don’t have to leave. We know people are not sticking around northwestern Illinois and we’d like to keep them here. We want to show kids that there is something else out there besides colleges – I do want to bring in colleges for the college bound kids because I want them to know there are other options besides Sauk Valley Community College and Northern Illinois University – but for the other kids, I want them to know there are tech schools. 

“I want them to know that they can go into the work force and make a good amount of money. I just want them to know their options and to be able to talk to people in those career fields.”

The College and Career Fair offers more opportunities such as learning how to speak to employer representatives without being nervous and asking questions fitting the needs of their interests. 

Plus, a student can ask a teacher about roofing, welding, engineering, journalism, or any other career field, but they couldn’t tell you the day-to-day responsibilities or the lifestyle from a first-hand point of view like the speakers at the fair can.

“This fair helps us develop their schedules in the future. Yes, it’s in September, so we’re not going to change their current schedule for the fall if they decide all of a sudden that they want to be a welder. But I can change their second semester schedule,” Crownhart said. “It helps them figure out if they want to work with their hands all day. Or do they want to be around people all day? Do they want to go to college? Then we can talk about grades and what type of classes they’re going to need to take to have a leg up when they graduate.

“Nothing says they’re going to find their job as a sophomore and they’re going to stick with it, but some of it is being able to cross of possibilities also. I have zero interest working with animals, so I won’t take a veterinarian science class. But I’m interested in the human body and anatomy, so maybe I’ll take that instead. Just because I like the agriculture shop and I like the idea of being in Future Farmers of America, it doesn’t mean that I have to take an animal class if I really dislike animals.”

The opportunity to find out college and career information will be set up like a fair as every college, business, military branch – the Air Force is scheduled to be there – or other organization will have a booth.

The kids will walk around and talk to people with a sheet to fill out with to prove that they did what they were supposed to do in order to get credit.

They may have questions they need to answer, or it may be a scavenger hunt where the kids are looking for certain careers.  

The exact format hasn’t been selected yet, but Amy Garriott of Allied-Locke Industries, Inc. in Dixon and Rhonda DeWitte of Astec Industries in Sterling are excited to present students with opportunities at their companies.

Garriott has been the hiring specialist for Allied-Locke for the last year and is looking forward to Amboy students gravitating toward the manufacturer.

“We did go to it last year and I was super excited to see that they were having it again because it gives us a great chance for us to reach out to the middle school and high school kids,” Garriott said. “We’re always excited to bring Amboy graduates onboard with us. The president of our company, Jeff Shoemaker, is an Amboy grad and we have quite a few Amboy grads on staff.

“It’s very important for us to use this career fair because people don’t realize what positions we have in addition to having manufacturing jobs, we have office, customer service, engineering, accounting, and human resource jobs.

“We also need skilled people like welders and machine operators, but we also have entry level positions where we will train you and you don’t need any experience. The high school kids don’t realize there are a wide variety of jobs that you can come in and make a really great wage straight out of high school.”

DeWitte and Astec Industries are just as eager to speak to the Clippers.

The company has adapted to society’s changes in recent years to try to engage and connect with young possible employees. 

“We try to explain what we do because a lot of people don’t know what we make here. We used to be Astec Mobile Screens, Inc. but we went through a rebranding and now we’re Astec Industries. We make screening equipment for the aggregate and mining industry. There is very large pieces of equipment as we are not a small assembly place, by any means.

“We like to get our name out there and let people know what we do. At the same time, we’re trying to become the employer of choice in the area as so many are since we’re all fighting for the same employees. We’ve increased some of our wages. We have different shift premiums, where if you work a night shift, you’ll make more per hour. We have our benefits effective on day one, which came into effect about a year ago to entice people.”

The College and Career Fair is Sept. 26, but you can register to attend now at