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Otter Tail County area students had the opportunity to learn from Hilltop Lumber employees as part of a unique youth workforce navigation program.

More than 250 students from around Otter Tail County had the opportunity to explore future careers in high-demand industries this school year. 

The Otter Tail County Youth Workforce Navigation Program organized field trips to 18 employers representing the agriculture, automotive, healthcare, manufacturing, government, business and non-profit management, and trades industries between September and April. Students from Battle Lake, Fergus Falls, New York Mills, Parkers Prairie, Pelican Rapids, Perham, Underwood, Frazee-Vergas and Ashby high schools attended the field trips to learn more about career pathways in these industries.

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Otter Tail County area students stopped by the Cultural Center in New York Mills to see some of the career opportunities available to them in the area.

  The goal of the field trips was to show students interested in these industries that there are several pathways to choose from they may not know about yet, and these opportunities are available in Otter Tail County. For example, the healthcare field trip showed students pathways in mental and behavioral health, dental, home healthcare, and emergency services. The trades field trip showed students pathways in plumbing, heating, landscaping, electric, drafting, architecture and construction. 

The field trips were offered to students ages 16 and up and were made possible in part by the Youth Skills Training Grant, which Otter Tail County received from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.

  Otter Tail County Community Development Agency (CDA) Board Member and Executive Director of the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, Betsy Roder hosted a business management field trip. 

“It’s so important to give high school students these opportunities and experiences. Relationships matter, and if students can build relationships with employers now, they are more likely to pursue careers in Otter Tail County after graduation,” said Roder. “They are not so far away from entering the workforce, so it’s awesome that they can see where they could be in the next few years.”

  The Youth Workforce Navigation Program is building the future workforce of Otter Tail County and bridging relationships between schools and businesses. Businesses interested in engaging with students through business tours, classroom presentations, or internships can register on the K12 Navigator online tool. Schools throughout Otter Tail County are using the K12 Navigator tool to find businesses willing to offer career exploration experiences for their students.

Otter Tail County encourages employers of all sizes and industries to register their company on the K12 Navigator at 

For more information about the Youth Workforce Navigation Program, visit