Woman holding fish

Parents, guardians and adults, think back to your days in elementary school. As early as the third grade you were already getting asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a daunting question for anyone - even for adults - to answer, but for a third grader, it can be quite overwhelming. South Harrison Community School Corporation strives to provide as many opportunities as it can, starting as early as possible, for students to explore unique, creative, fun and rewarding careers not typically found in Harrison County. At the high school level, students participate in job shadowing, work-based learning, internships and pathway programs. In junior high, students focus on career exploration through field trips and classroom guests. In elementary school, students are introduced to careers based on their passions. 

Third-grade Corydon Elementary teacher Kacie Withers has built an entire research project for her class around this very concept. In a year-long unit called “Passion Project”, Mrs. Withers helps students uncover their passions and find careers where they can do what they love every day. Once students have identified a career they want to learn more about, Mrs. Withers uses the power of social media and word of mouth to connect each child in her class with individuals of each respective industry. Using Google Meet, students then prepare interview questions to ask their career experts to learn more about their passion career firsthand. 

Emma was the latest student to do her Passion Project interview. Passionate about fish, wildlife, nature and animals, Mrs. Withers connected Emma with Ashley Oliver, who is the Reef Fish Communications Fellow for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Ashley spends her day managing offshore species such as snapper, grouper, and mahi mahi from North Carolina to Florida. This means she’s constantly in the lab, out on the boat or in the water tracking fish movements and patterns and ideal living conditions for these species. Emma and her classmates learned a lot from Ashley, including her important work with a new technology called a descending device. Ashley explained to the students how these devices help deepwater living fish to return to their needed depth for survival after catch and release.

Ashely is a 2016 graduate of Corydon Central High School and shared she learned she wanted to work on the ocean in third grade herself after her teacher had them do a very similar project.