Do what you love

What do you want to be when you grow up? With plenty of time left to decide, sixth grade students at Webster City Middle School had a chance to peer into the working lives of several community members on Monday morning.

The school’s career day lets students ask local professionals about their careers and see demonstrations from their workplaces. Jeff Lyons’ class first heard from Andy Sowle and Jeremy Estlund of the Webster City Fire Department.

The firefighters showed students some of their equipment, from their hoods to their helmets and tools to break down drywall and keep track of fellow firefighters in the midst of a fire. Sowle said firefighters have to be ready to go at any point during their 24-hour shifts even if they’re fast asleep.

“When we get a fire call, no matter where we’re at in the fire station, we are dressed, in the truck and out the door in under two minutes,” Sowle said. “Could you guys do that in the morning when you wake up?”

To demonstrate, Estlund laid out his outfit and put it all on in just 31 seconds. However, firefighting is more than equipment and fast reactions. Sowle said there’s a lot to learn for students who want to become a career firefighter. He said most departments will look for applicants with a two-year fire science degree, which Iowa Central Community College offers.

Both Sowle and Estlund got involved with the fire department in their 20’s. Before Estlund became a volunteer firefighters, he was chasing fire trucks out of interest.

“When I was 12 or 13 years old in Duncombe, every time that whistle blew for the fire trucks to go off in town, I was on my bike or my moped and I was trying to find them just to see what was going on,” Estlund said. “I knew way back then that I wanted to be a firefighter.”

This year, the Webster City Fire Department has responded to 83 calls, according to Estlund. He said the department usually sees between 80 and 100 calls each year.

The sixth grade class also met with Tammy Greenfield, Assistant Director of Nursing at Crestview Nursing and Rehabilitation. She demonstrated one way that she might medically assist a resident.

With a student, she walked through a “neuro” exam that a nurse would perform multiple times through the day if a resident fell and hit their head. Greenfield said she began her career path by taking a nurse’s aid class in high school. Then, she went to ICCC to become a licensed practical nurse and then a registered nurse. She worked during that time at Crestview.

Now that Greenfield oversees the many nurses that work at Crestview, she said she looks for people who are compassionate and kind in addition to having the required schooling. She said her favorite part of her job is meeting new people and hearing their stories.

Another presenter was Tina Poland, who owns the pHairytails salon in Webster City. In addition to her cosmetology skills and many years of experience, she told students that math skills are important when running a business. She also said other skills, such as Spanish fluency, can help a business owner reach out to various parts of the community. She also recommended a business degree for those aspiring to open their own salon.

Other career day speakers were Kurt Veldhuizen and Sarah Kopriva.