Modesto High School junior Yunah Kim got a firsthand look at what firefighters do Wednesday afternoon as part of the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s Leadership Academy.
The more than decade-old program was designed to expose talented young people to the rewarding jobs available here. The hope is they will come back to embark on their careers after getting their college degrees elsewhere and help stem the tide of talented young people leaving the county.
This year’s academy has 30 high school juniors and seniors from 17 private and public high schools from throughout the county. The program runs during the school year, and the students devote one day a month to the academy.
The students visit local businesses – such as E.&J. Gallo Winery and Hughson’s Duarte Nursery – to learn about private-sector careers. They also learn about the nonprofit sector. The students will take park in Non Profit Community Day on Oct. 3 with visits to Community Hospice and The Salvation Army’s homeless shelter. They also will visit health care facilities.
The program includes shadowing public-safety workers. The students learn about police work by spending time with Modesto officers or Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies. They learn about the work of firefighters by spending time with Modesto or Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District firefighters.
Yunah, 15, said she was surprised by how friendly and down-to-earth the firefighters were, and what they do is different from what she expected. She went on three calls with the firefighters in her first three hours, including one in which firefighters helped an obese woman who had fallen in her apartment and another involving an intoxicated man weaving in traffic on his bicycle.
“I think it’s really interesting and something a lot of people don’t get to experience,” she said. Yunah spent several hours with the firefighters at Modesto’s Station No. 5 near McHenry Village.
SCOE planning coordinator Jeri Trainor said the academy typically wraps up with Modesto entrepreneur Dan Costa talking with the students about his experiences.