June 17, 2022--Some of them thought they would spend the week sitting and listening to grown-ups talk about careers in manufacturing.
“We got to build stuff,” said Brooklin Cope, a Junior High School student from Westside Consolidated Schools.
And that’s the idea behind TekStarz, Jonesboro’s Summer Manufacturing Camp. Throughout the week, the TekStarz campers visit various Jonesboro industries, taking tours and doing projects and experiments. Jonesboro Unlimited and the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce launched the four-day camp nine years ago.
“It is unique. It’s the only camp like this for students who are interested in STEM, who are interested in manufacturing, or like to know how things work,” said Shelle Randall, Director of Talent and Workforce Development for Jonesboro Unlimited.
“There are so many careers the kids wouldn’t hear about without an experience like this,” Randall told KAIT-TV.
The campers got a behind-the-scenes look at Nice-Pak, Frito-Lay, Unilever, Nabholz, Ritter Communications, Best Manufacturing, Post, and Hytrol. They also visited Arkansas State University-Newport and the Garage and Tinkering Studio at Arkansas State University. Be Pro-Be Proud helped cap off the week by bringing their Mobile Workshop to Hytrol for the students to get some virtual “hands-on” work.
Reed Harris, who will be in 8th grade at Westside in the fall, said he wants to work with his hands. The camp allowed him to see what kind of careers could fill that need.
“It’s just something about taking stuff apart and making it again is fascinating to me. That’s why I want to get into this when I am older,” he said.
The overall purpose of TekStarz is to show the students that working in manufacturing doesn’t only mean working on a production line, repeating the same process multiple times a day. There are careers in computers, engineering, science, and human resources, to name a few.
For Randall, making the students aware of these possible future careers at this point in their schooling makes perfect sense.
“They are old enough to understand what they are learning and young enough to just be really enthusiastic and excited about some of the opportunities,” she said.
And let’s not forget the social aspect of the camp.
“You get to make a lot of friends you don’t know and get to hang out with them for four days,” said Jenna Boatman, an 8th grader from Riverside.
Fun and learning at the same time. That’s the goal of TekStarz. Tori McKinney from Nettleton Junior High summed it up with a huge grin by saying she would tell her friends, “You get to do fun things. See how things are made. And do a lot of engineering things.”
Fun, new friends, and ideas about what careers they may want to pursue someday. A week well-spent.