Piedra Vista High School senior Alejandro Contreras checks the blood pressure of Hillary Datton, an emergency medical technician, on Tuesday during a
Piedra Vista High School senior Alejandro Contreras checks the blood pressure of Hillary Datton, an emergency medical technician, on Tuesday during a career fair at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington. (Megan Farmer / The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista High School students explored what it takes to become, among other things, a nurse, an insurance agent and a photographer during the school's first career fair on Tuesday.

About 1,300 students checked out booths in the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse and learned about various careers and professions. More than 40 businesses and organizations from around San Juan County participated in the fair, said Natalie Stark, the high school's Financial Aid College Entrance counselor.

"It's something we've wanted to do for a while to help our students," Stark said.

Stark said she was pleased with the turnout for the fair's first year and hopes to grow the event in the future.

Sophomores and seniors attended the fair before freshmen and juniors were rotated in, allowing all of the students to interact with professionals.

Representatives from businesses and organizations, including San Juan Regional Medical Center, Dramatic Imagining, Navajo Mesa Farms and the Farmington Police Department, shared information about their jobs.

Jenice Jim, a veterinarian at Animal Haven Clinic, said she answered a lot of questions from students interested in her profession.

"We got to engage in a lot of conversations with kids," she said. "We've actually had some kids that were really interested in veterinary medicine, and that's our goal — to get them at least thinking about it at this stage."

Sophomore Doug Frost said he wants to be a football coach, but, on Tuesday, he also discussed career options with A-1 Machine, Inc. and the U.S. Marines Corps.

Frost said the fair could help those undecided about a career learn more about fields they haven't explored.

"We could find out about these career fields and maybe it sparks an idea in our minds," Frost said.

Another student, sophomore Tyra Garcia, said she learned more about a career as a makeup artist or a nurse.

Piedra Vista High School senior Jolleen Duran looks at photos on Tuesday at Four Corners Orthodontics and Dental’s booth during a career fair at the
Piedra Vista High School senior Jolleen Duran looks at photos on Tuesday at Four Corners Orthodontics and Dental's booth during a career fair at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington. (Megan Farmer /The Daily Times)

"It gives us more choices," Garcia said. "It opened my view."

Cari Drake is the operations manager at Air Star, a Bloomfield company that provides products and services for the oil and gas industry. She spoke to students about how the company offers jobs beyond those in oil and gas.

"There's so much they can do that's not just the technical aspect. I just think it lets them know they have options," Drake said of the career fair.

Drake said career fairs provide students information on professions that involve attending technical school or earning an associate degree.

"I think that's one of the things that's lacking. Kids don't realize there are shorter degrees," Drake said. "Programs like this showcase you don't necessarily have to have a traditional education."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.