Mid-State Agribusiness Instructor Teri Raatz prepares to log into the Cougar Connections virtual platform, where area high school students recently engaged with Mid-State instructors and local business partners to learn about Mid-State’s hands-on programs and career opportunities.

Mid-State hosts ‘Cougar Connections’ virtual program showcase for area high school students

March 23, 2021

With typical career exploration experiences like job shadowing and attending on-campus college events suspended this year, Mid-State Technical College partnered with Stevens Point Area High School (SPASH) to formulate a new option for career exploration, hosting its first ever virtual program showcase on March 9. Called “Cougar Connections,” the innovative online event drew 208 area high school students to register for the opportunity to connect with over 50 Mid-State faculty and employer partners. 

In its new online format, the long-standing on-campus program showcase event allowed area 9–12 grade students to jump into virtual sessions and explore program opportunities throughout the day as well as learn of program details and job opportunities from local employers after completing a career program at Mid-State. Session topics included conversations about employer backgrounds, career options in a related field and insight into companies here in central Wisconsin.

“I enjoyed learning about all the different classes that are available to take at Mid-State, especially the Entrepreneurship classes, because I want to start my own business for photography,” said Aubriana Hojnacki, a 10th grade student at SPASH. “It’s great just learning about the different opportunities out there and how you can succeed to get to that point, and the teachers were so wonderful and helpful.”

“Doing our presentation virtually gave me a great opportunity to show the students our new Ag Lab and our life-size calf birthing simulator, Mid-State Millie, to all the students,” said Teri Raatz, Mid-State agribusiness instructor. “I also had an employer live with me in the classroom, so we were able to have a conversation about all the jobs available to our students with Mid-State agriculture degree.”

”We’ve hosted many new virtual events since the onset of the pandemic, but it’s not the virtual format that enhanced this event—it’s the employer connections,” said Mid-State’s Manager of K–12 & Adult Recruitment Jackie Esselman. “Students often attend job shadows and employer tours during their high school careers, and this year those activities were put on hold. Through the Cougar Connections event, students were able to not only learn about program options but also see the full education-to-career path to help shape their decisions after high school graduation.”

Learn more about Mid-State’s degree programs at mstc.edu/programs.