Jon Blake and Teddy Strand, both Pequot Lakes ninth-graders, conceded they were a little nervous as they began their day Monday following veterinarian Matt Eberts at Lakeland Veterinary Hospital in Baxter.
But the students were no more nervous than the nearby cats who were awaiting surgery to be declawed and spayed. The teens were excited to be able to watch the surgeries as part of their job shadowing experience at the veterinary hospital.
About 58 Pequot Lakes High School students, including Blake and Strand, were excused from school Monday to spend the day tagging along with DNR conservation officers, area veterinarians, hair stylists, teachers and morning radio hosts, among other professionals. Even Dispatch photographers had a shadow.
It was Groundhog Job Shadow Day Monday, where Pequot students were given the opportunity to spend a day exploring various careers. About 38 other eighth- through 12th-grade students are scheduled to job shadow throughout the Brainerd lakes area during the month.
The program is sponsored locally by the Pequot Lakes School-To-Work program and the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce. It is also an initiative co-sponsored nationally by Monster.com and News Corp., the U.S. Department of Labor, America's Promise and Junior Achievement.
This is the seventh year of the national program and the first time Pequot Lakes students participated in the job shadow program, said Arloa Ellertson, School-To-Work coordinator at Pequot Lakes High School.
While students in two of Ellertson's classes are given the chance to job shadow during the school year, it wasn't something that was offered to all students until now.
"We wanted more students to have the opportunity to explore career interest areas," Ellertson explained. "Students picked their interest areas and then we started linking people together."
Blake and Strand spent Monday at Lakeland Veterinary Hospital in Baxter, watching routine animal check-ups and surgeries. The teens followed Eberts through his rounds at the veterinary hospital, which included watching an X-ray performed on a 3-month-old Shih-tzu who broke his leg after he fell down the stairs. Blake and Strand said they were both interested in becoming veterinarians.
"I just like animals," said Blake.
Dick Piepgras, Lakeland Veterinary Hospital veterinarian and owner, said he has had many job shadow students who have spent a day with him and his staff over the years. One student job shadowed at the veterinary hospital when she was in ninth grade and is now in college studying to become a veterinary technician, he said.
"I think it's a very good experience for them and it's good for us," said Piepgras. "It's an eye-opener. You get to learn something."
Last year more than one million high school students were job shadows at more than 100,000 workplaces throughout the country, according to the Job Shadow Coalition.
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