Summer Manufacturing Campers in Jackson County visited and toured many local manufacturing facilities. One of many stops was SunRush Water Bottling Company. SunRush Water owner Michael Blum is shown talking with the students about his business. (Telegram Photo by Jeremiah Shaver)
Summer Manufacturing Campers in Jackson County visited and toured many local manufacturing facilities. One of many stops was SunRush Water Bottling Company. SunRush Water owner Michael Blum is shown talking with the students about his business. (Telegram Photo by Jeremiah Shaver)

A Summer Manufacturing Camp that is geared toward helping Jackson County students learn about manufacturing, teamwork, and local production facilities in the area was held recently.

The camp was held over the course of three days (June 1-3) with a total of 34 students participating. The office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped organize the camp. The home base for the camp this year was the Rio Grande University Center in Jackson.

This year, the students traveled to Buckeye Hills Career Center, where they got the opportunity to learn about trades, as well as take tours at Bellisio Foods, Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, General Mills, and SunRush Water Bottling Company.

Sharissa A. Cooper, who is a Business Services Consultant at the Jackson County Department of Job & Family Services and OhioMeansJobs Center in Jackson oversaw the program locally. Cooper told The Telegram that students who just completed grades 5th-7th were invited to attend.

“Jackson County is very unique because we are able to provide this camp at no cost to any of the students,” explained Cooper. “The students are taken care of, and they enjoy the camp thoroughly.”

Cooper said, “We are very passionate about establishing the idea of careers, not just jobs. We like to promote what we have right here in Jackson County. Of course, we want people to see the world but also want our kids to understand there are a lot of great opportunities right here in the county.”

The theme of the camp was “we are the future” which the students sported on the front of their camp t-shirts this year. The camp was a learning opportunity, and they got the chance to learn about careers in their community, tour local manufacturing facilities, and learn from experts. Students watched and learned how products are made locally. The students received breakfast and lunch each day during this free camp.

The following students participated in the camp: Addison Hickey, Aiden Fowler, Atlanta Gibson, Brycen Kerr, Brynlee Smalley, Carson Hill, Carson Orton, Carter Rhea, Cooper Rhea, Colt Hughes, Corbyn Smalley, Deegan Evans, Devon Adams, Dorian Hill, Hannah Plants, Hope Goins, Isaiah White, Ivan Conley, Jacob Sherman, Jacob Stecklein, Jonah Armstrong, Joseph Milliken, Kaiden Adams, Landon Rapp, Layla Hendershott, Liam Wisecup, Lucas Cook, Madison Stollings, Micaela Gibson, Thomas Shay, Waylon Delong, Jayden Riegel, Jordan Swackhammer, and Hannah Ray.

Brown’s office started organizing Summer Manufacturing Camps in 2013, and since then, the number of camps throughout the state has grown every year. In 2015, Jackson County joined and started having Summer Manufacturing Camps. This year, Brown’s office helped organize at least 25 camps in 17 counties including Jackson County.

Community partners included OhioMeansJobs of Jackson County, Rio Grande Jackson Center, Wellston Mayor Charlie Hudson, Jackson County Economic Development Partnership, Jackson County Banking Center, Ohio Valley Bank, Atomic Credit Union, Buckeye Hills Career Center, Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Fluor-BWXT, Bellisio Foods, General Mills, SunRush Bottling Company, Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Geiger Brothers, Jackson City Schools, Wellston City Schools, and Oak Hill Union Local Schools.

On the final day of the camp, Beth Clodfelter, a regional representative with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s Office, passed out certificates of commendation to the students for completing the camp. The students also got to watch a short video from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown who gave remarks.

“Ohioans are proud of our state’s long manufacturing history,” stated Brown. “To keep up that tradition, we must get a new generation interested in our changing manufacturing sector… That’s what these camps are all about.”

There were even a few students who were returning campers.