Nearly 100 students got some job-site experience at the Pratt Disability Mentoring Day.

Eager students invaded businesses all over Pratt Tuesday, Oct. 24 as they looked for future job opportunities on Disability Mentoring Day.

The 97 students from 12 schools fanned out across Pratt and got on-the-job experience what it would be like to work at those 40 businesses. They asked questions and got some on-site experience with various operations.

Paola Luna of Pratt High School, Gina Patton of Kingman High School and America Fernandez of St. John chose the Main Street Small Animal Veterinarian Clinic for their business. Students got a tour of the facility, learned what happens in an examination, got to handle various animals and watched a snake eat a mouse.

Luna said she was interested in animal health and wanted to know more about caring for hurt animals. Patton likes all kinds of animals and said she learned a lot from the experience. Watching the snake eat the mouse impressed her the most.

Fernandez wants to become a veterinarian and enjoyed learning everything that veterinarians do. She really liked getting hands on with the animals.

Veterinarian Lu Ann Bergner said her small animal clinic offers a variety of services and they handle mostly cats and dogs but have also had ferrets, snakes, rats, gerbils, Guinea pigs and have even an ostrich, a prairie dog and she has done surgery on a fish.

Bergner has a big black and white cat that is up for adoption. This animal has a urinary tract issue and needs medication. This would make a good indoor lap animal for someone who is home most of the time, Bergner said.

A group of Skyline students visited various locations around Pratt. Hunter Egging visited the Pratt Regional Airport and wants to be a pilot. He was curious how the controls worked on a plane and learned how to read a pilots map. He also found out that most pilots admit to dozing or even falling asleep while flying.

Emily Allphin and Josh Nelson took in the Law Enforcement Center and leaned how the dispatch center worked. Allphin said she was impressed with the computers and how the dispatchers knew where to send people. Nelson wants to work in the sheriff's office because they cover more territory. He also likes their camaraderie.

Adrein McFarland likes clothes and headed for Maurices where she got to try on clothes and was impressed with the their team work and the business setup. She wants to go into fashion merchandising.

Julianne Bates went to the Pratt Area Humane Society shelter to learn more about taking care of the dogs and cats. She got to handle some of the animals at the shelter and is interested in volunteering.

Guest speaker for the event was Joe Steffy, owner of Poppin Joe's Kettle Korn. Steffy is autistic and has Down Syndrome. His presentation was prerecorded on a computer that he operated. The presentation showed the story of his life and how he overcame many obstacles, including establishing a flourishing business in spite of the many that said he could not succeed. The success of his business, he now does over $60,000 a year and lives on his own, is an amazing story of a man whose IQ was measured at 32 and how he has succeeded where many thought he had no chance of success.

Tasha Konrade, Prairie Independent Living service coordinator, said Disability Mentoring Day could only be possible though the generosity of the 40 participating business that welcomed students and gave them the chance to have a hands-on experience.

This on-site experience helps students find out if they really want to work in a particular profession and if they have the skills necessary to do the job, Konrade said.

Students with an individualized education program are eligible to participate in mentoring day. They list three choices of businesses they would like to visit. They are matched as close as possible with the business they want depending on the businesses have signed up to participate.

The event helps start relationships between students and businesses that has, in the past, resulted in students being hired.

Besides mentoring day, students can also make business contacts during a Job-A-Thon in April, Konrade said.

Schools participating in the event were Skyline, Pratt, Kingman, Norwich, Sharon, Chaparral, South Barber, St. John, Haskins, Cunningham, Macksville and Stafford.

This event could not take place without the support of many sponsors, Konrade said.

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