Workforce Development in the Western Chapter
Friday, January 26, 2018
Posted by: Matt Mostellar
Where do you start to tackle the daunting task of finding, recruiting and developing future surveyors? I’m not even sure I can answer that question. When I ran my first meeting as Western Chapter President, I asked the members present what their expectations of me were. One person spoke up. You guessed it – Steve Douty! Mr. Douty expressed that he felt most times he had the opportunity to lead an endeavor, he did not “take the bull by the horns” and went on to regret it. At the time of that meeting, the VAS had already adopted the Workforce Development initiative earlier in 2016. It wasn’t until the fall of that year that I made a conscious effort to at least make an attempt at taking the bull by the horns. All chapter presidents were encouraged to send the template letter to our local workforce boards and I decided to do so.
My letter (via email) got a response the next day. What transpired after that seems more like the scene from the movie “Wild Hogs” when they slapped the bull on its hindquarters. This enormous creature that is Workforce Development is now chasing me! I was contacted by the director of the New River-Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Board, Ms. Marty Holliday. I setup a meeting with her and was accompanied by Steve Douty and my supervisor and surveying mentor, Ralph Clements. One of the other attendees at that meeting was Rick Weaver, Career and Technical Education (CTE) director for Montgomery County Public Schools, which happens to be the county where I live and work. Mr. Weaver has been instrumental in giving our chapter opportunities to participate in events at Montgomery County schools.
In January, 2017, Western Chapter members were invited to be a part of Curriculum Night at the 4 Montgomery County high schools. This is where eighth graders and their parents are able to look at the various course electives they can choose from as they enter into their high school years. There are several tables/booths setup and manned by their respective teachers. Surveying was the only profession represented there. We borrowed the VAS banners and set them up, along with a total station, some other equipment and had lots of brochures from NSPS and ETSU to hand out. While there were lots of students and parents looking around, there is not a huge interest in what we do for a living. I will say, though, each time we participate in one of these events, there is always at least one student or parent that shows a genuine interest. Is that enough? No. But it’s better than none at all.
A few months later, chapter members Eric Gentry, Ralph Clements and I made presentations to 7th and 8th grade classes at Auburn Middle School. Steve Douty and I also met with the CTE directors from the greater Roanoke region. This group was also very receptive to our cause and basically told us that anytime we want to present in their respective schools, we are welcome to. Our chapter has since purchased our own banners to use for Workforce Development events. One of the other outcomes from our initial meeting with our local workforce board was that they would help us coordinate and fund a presentation to area workforce personnel, guidance and career counselors, community college representatives, etc. This is my responsibility to get moving and I admit I have fallen short of making this happen yet.
Our chapter was once again invited to participate at Academic and Career Night (formerly Curriculum Night) at the Montgomery County high schools in January, 2018. Armed with our new banners, survey equipment and brochures, we had participation at all four schools again this year; two of which were on the same night. I would like to give a special thanks to my dedicated chapter members Eric Gentry, Chuck Forbes, Sonny Patton, Ralph Clements, Jessica Nash and Steve Douty. I got to see it from a parent’s perspective this year at Christiansburg High School, as my son is a rising freshman.
We are making an effort, but it’s not enough. Not nearly enough. When you consider how challenging the Workforce Development Initiative is, it feels like you are shooting a BB gun at an aircraft carrier! In my opinion, Workforce Development is the most important endeavor we can undertake in order to preserve and promote the profession we all love. This is our opportunity to grab that bull by the horns and not just slap it. Steve Douty has stepped aside as Chairman of the VAS Workforce Development Committee, but will remain a vital member of this committee. I have been appointed as a co-chair of this committee, along with Region II Director, Stephen Letchford and Region III Director, Rob Mann. It took 3 people to replace Steve! I’m honored to be considered for this position and am looking forward to growing the seeds that Steve has planted.