At 13 years old, Blaise Holden isn't ready to choose a career. But Holden welcomes any opportunity to learn more about the options that await him after high school.
Holden, a Steamboat Springs Middle School student, was one of about 100 eighth-graders who attended Tuesday's Boys2Men conference at Colorado Moun-tain College's Alpine Campus, where the students met local professionals representing a variety of career fields.
"It's been really cool," Holden said during a break in the conference schedule. "I know I haven't been thinking about what I want to do in the future. I've had some ideas, but now I get to see some other options."
The Boys2Men conference might even help him select classes in high school and narrow his college choices, Holden said. But more importantly, the all-day conference helped open his eyes to the wealth of career opportunities that exist.
"It's a really good thing to do in eighth grade," he said.
It's never too early for middle school boys to start thinking about their futures, said Karen Bomberg, one of the organizers of the Boys2Men conference. A main objective of the conference was to expose the young teenagers to some of the different things they potentially could do with their lives.
"There's so much out there," Bomberg said. "I think the key of this program is just to present different ideas and different directions for them to go in."
Middle school Assistant Principal Jerry Buelter said he hoped the students learned they can match their careers with their interests.
Last year's Boys2Men conference focused less on careers and more on personal attributes considered important to success in life. Those attributes included responsibility, perseverance, teamwork, compassion, service and honesty. Conference organizers wanted to return the focus to careers for this year's event, Bomberg said.
Some of the local professionals who volunteered their time to speak to small groups of students throughout the day included commercial pilot Rick Ehrick, Steamboat Springs police Sgt. Rich Brown, attorney David Nagel, general contractors Travis Holmquist and Jim Lorenz, chef Dominick Riggio, dentist Bill Schwartz, drama teacher Stuart Handloff, dance artist Kent Nightwalker and orthopedic surgeon Bryan Bomberg. Former Olympic ski racer and businessman Jim "Moose" Barrows delivered the conference's keynote address.
Buelter said the conference also allowed students to make personal connections with local adults and professionals who they might encounter during daily life in the Yampa Valley.
"Eighth grade is a difficult age for them to relate to adults," Buelter said.
The conference primarily was funded by donations from local businesses and service clubs. Colorado Mountain College provided the classroom space and lunch for the students.
"This is a good community program," Karen Bomberg said. "Lots of people chip in and volunteer."
-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org