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Poland Career Exploration Day features 30-plus speakers

March 8, 2019




Marc Barraco from Governor Cuomo's office speaks in front of stands full of students at Poland


Marc Barraco, the Mohawk Valley regional representative for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaks to students during the Poland Central School District Career Exploration Day on Friday, March 8. For more photos, visit www.facebook.com/polandcsd.





POLAND – Poland Central School District students recently learned about various career options as they heard from some of the more than 30 local professionals who visited the school.

One keynote speaker was Marc Barraco, the Mohawk Valley regional representative for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and a student asked what he does most often during his job.

“The first answer is: a lot,” Barraco said. “And the second answer is: It can change at any time.”

Barraco went on to explain details of his job including helping people with grants, visiting schools, meeting with businesses and addressing topics ranging from the state budget and school funding to the legalization of marijuana. He also talked about working on issues such as the hospital being planned for downtown Utica, recent flooding in Whitesboro and discolored water in Ilion.

“It’s kind of anything and everything,” he said. “We’re really trying to do everything we can to make this region a better place.”

Poland guidance counselors, administrators and teachers teamed up with the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School to Careers program to develop the Poland Career Exploration Day, which took place for kindergarten through 12th grade on Friday, March 8, at the school.

Students had different schedules and speakers depending on grade level. Another keynote speaker for grades 7-12 was Jose Miguel Longo, director of career services at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and he provided students advice about preparing for college, going to college and advancing to a career.

“You’re going to get out of college what you put into it,” he said.

Longo spoke about the importance of planning, internship and more. He said that at college, there is nobody there telling you when to go to class and when to study.

“Time management is very, very critical for a college student,” he said.

Timothy Thomas, Mohawk Valley Community College associate dean of physical sciences, engineering and applied technologies, was the keynote speaker for grades 4-6. He talked about the impacts of robots on the manufacturing and agriculture industries.

“Your humanness will gain in importance as artificial intelligence advances,” he said.

Robots might be faster at bolts, but humans still have advantages as well, Thomas said.

“Robots don’t have the ability to form relationships with people,” he said. “People have the ability to form relationships with people.”

Samantha Brown, recycling coordinator for the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority, spoke to kindergarteners and first-graders.

“We handle everything that you get rid of – whether it be garbage or recyclables,” she said.

Brown said most people stop thinking about their garbage and recyclables after the items are picked up from their house, but the next steps are what make up many of the jobs at the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority.

She also covered other topics – such as telling students about the recycling process and discussing the dos and don’ts of recycling.

Father and son writing duo Gary and Justin VanRiper, authors of “The Adirondack Kids” series of books, spoke to students in kindergarten through sixth grade. They talked about how they started writing books together and provided what they consider to be the No. 1 writer’s tip.

“There’s no chance you’ll ever be an author unless you are first a reader,” Gary VanRiper said. “You must be a reader. Read, read, read.”




Jose Miguel Longo speaking to Poland students


Jose Miguel Longo, director of career services at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, speaks to students during the Poland Central School District Career Exploration Day on Friday, March 8.





Poland students listening to authors Gary and Justin VanRiper


Gary and Justin VanRiper, authors of “The Adirondack Kids” series of books, speak to students during the Poland Central School District Career Exploration Day on Friday, March 8.





Timothy Thomas from MVCC speaking in front of Poland students


Timothy Thomas, Mohawk Valley Community College associate dean of physical sciences, engineering and applied technologies, speaks to students during the Poland Central School District Career Exploration Day on Friday, March 8.






Poland students in elementary library listen to Samantha Brown from Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority


Samantha Brown, recycling coordinator for the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority, speaks to students during the Poland Central School District Career Exploration Day on Friday, March 8.