More than 1,200 sophomores from 14 schools had a a hands-on experience with several area career opportunities Friday as part of the Ingite Your Future job fair at Ridgewater College.

More than 100 volunteers and 150 business organized Ignite, and helped operate the event. Mary Hodson, Hutchinson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism president, went in with high hopes, and had them exceeded.

“Businesses, educators, chaperones, student and planners all talked to me as they were leaving or at the end of the day about how much they loved it,” she said. “The hands-on piece was really important for kids. They really got their hands on the equipment, the tools that gave them a real sense of what that job or industry would be like.”

Hodson spoke to students who were surprised to find they liked something unexpected, such as one who appreciated the creativity of hair styling.

“It was really gratifying,” Hodson said.

Ignite was organized around six career pathways identified by the state of Minnesota — agriculture, food and natural resources; arts, communications and information systems; engineering, manufacturing and technology; health science technology; human services; and business management and administration. Organizers hoped to give students a chance to learn about careers before they start paying for college.

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