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“Having these other options are able to give me more choices to what I want to do,” 8th grader Amber Knight says.

Knight got to spend the day learning about different job opportunities like using an excavator.

“It just combines so much stuff together that you have to drive.,” Knight explains about the simulation. “Then you have so many pedals to do and then you have three different levers to pull and then you have to go in and out. So it's very hard.”

Students got a look at different types of skilled trade jobs on the Be Pro Be Proud truck, which parked outside of Furman Middle School where Operdella Choice-Miller works.

“It's just about giving the kids knowledge and options to know what's out there for them,” Choice-Miller explains.

This comes at a crucial time, she says, as 8th graders are expected to have an idea of what career they might be interested in before they head on to high school.

“Starting them early just makes them aware of what's out there because their interests are going to change. It's not to say that they're going to be plumbers or electricians, but it's just to know what's out there. By the time they get to high school, maybe they'll say ‘That's not for me,’ and that's okay. But the most important thing is that they would have been exposed to all the career options there are for us to give to them,” Choice-Miller says. “Just knowing their options whether they're college bound, whether they're going in the military, or whether they're going to take one of these highly skilled technical careers and go into the workforce and be certified, it's just about giving the kids knowledge and options to know what's out there for them.”

“We're just out here showing the kids what's available to them, because not everybody's gonna go to college,” Be Pro Be Proud Tour Ambassador Justin Dull adds. “People might not want to go the military. So you need to have options and that's what we're here for. We're showing kids what's out there, where they can go to school, scholarships, apprenticeships, jobs, etc."

Dull tells me showing kids what jobs are out there not only helps them realize future career paths, but it is also trying to fill a need.

“People are retiring. They're not doing these jobs anymore. These jobs, people are moving on from these jobs. They're getting their 60s 70s and they're moving on to other things. Well, the younger generation, they're not stepping up to take these jobs,” Dull details. “There's a huge gap, a very large gap where people are leaving and nobody's coming in and taking those spots.”

“I think the value of having programs like this is enhanced students learning, having them do stuff like this, touching with their hands and all that to get a feel of it,” 8th grader Joseph Ridgeway says.

It’s an element of the program that Choice-Miller thinks is particularly helpful for engaging students.

“This is a technological age. So anything game simulated: VR goggles, any of those things like that, they are totally up for it,” Choice-Miller smiles.

See the full story by WLTX's Sam Perez with video here: Workforce development truck visits Sumter middle school |