Tourism brings millions of people a year to the Augusta area.
"We've got to take care of those visitors," said Peggy Seigler, of the Augusta Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Columbia County's Pro Start students might be the ones to do it.
Seigler was speaking to an audience of about 200 Harlem and Evans high school students Wednesday during the first Pro Start Career Day at Evans High School. Pro Start offers intensive culinary training, job matching and a seamless entry into Augusta Technical College for those interested in culinary or tourism-related fields.
"These are ninth-, 10th- and 11th-graders, and we are trying to show them what the CSRA has to offer," said Laotha Carswell, the Pro Start instructor at Evans. "They don't know they have a variety of choices locally. They don't have to go off to Atlanta or Charleston."
Linda Sliger, the program manager of the CSRA School to Work Partnership - a grant program administered through Augusta Tech - helped arrange the 10 speakers for the day.
"We have several areas we're working on, and one of those is career-resource awareness. We are trying to make students more aware of the jobs that are out there for them, and one way to do that is through job fairs," she said.
The morning session started off with chef Heinz Sowinski from La Maison on Telfair and ended with Calvin Green of Hot Foods by Calvin. Representatives of the tourism industry talked to students during the second session.
In a highlight of the event, Kathleen Frevan of Augusta Technical College used a chain saw to carve an ice sculpture of a swan.
Krist Buck, an Evans senior, said she talked to some students who were interested in the Pro Start program during the event.
"It's a fun class, and we get a lot of work experience, which will help when we get out into the workplace," she said. "I was going to be a chef, but now I think I'm going to be a foods teacher. I think I'll take Ms. Carswell's place."
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