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Students in East County dress to impress area businesses in hopes of landing jobs after graduation

Busloads of students entered the HCC John R. Trinkle Center in Plant City dressed to impress area businesses on April 26.

This one-day career expo, named the Career Academy Future Fair, provided Durant, Plant City and Simmons high school seniors the opportunity to interact and connect with employers. Students brought their resumes and used great eye-contact when learning about jobs available to them after graduation, just a few weeks away.

After a motivating and warm welcome from Plant City Mayor Rick Lott, a message of inspiration came from Nikki Foster, drector of Public Affairs at Mosaic, one of the event’s key major sponsors. She encouraged each student to take the time to speak to each business and learn about its history and mission. 

School Board Chair Sally Harris shared a personal story of how a career fair got her to where she is today. Adam Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, spoke candidly about people looking for and competing for jobs. He reminded them that they are the lucky ones, with the community of Plant City putting multiple employers in one room to help make them successful, because they believe in each and every student.

Superintendent Jeff Eakins spoke about how proud he is of the partnerships in the area, and the hard work that staff and students put forth into increasing graduation rates, with all Plant City area schools surpassing 90 percent.

After the welcome and words of encouragement, students rotated through the career room where dozens of companies set up tables to discuss their company’s culture, openings and benefits, including Baycare, Mosaic, Stingray Chevrolet and Suncoast Credit Union. While another group of students listened to a panel of experts on the topic of real life examples of success. Business owners took time to share person stories of struggles and triumphs as students took turns asking each panelist questions.

"This has been an amazing day, students have been preparing all year long for this day. There are so many great jobs right down the street from where these students live. So today we connected these students with businesses, and showed each student how important they are to our community and for our future,” said Yvonne Fry, who played a major role in developing the Future Fair.

Anibal Santaolaya, a graduate of Strawberry Crest High School and now a parts representative at Stingray Chevrolet, attended the fair alongside his co-workers to let students know he was in their boat a few years ago, when he attended the Fair and first met his current employer.

Future Fair Day was made possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Plant City Economic Development Corporation, Plant City Chamber of Commerce, Yvonne Fry, Fryed Egg Productions, Safe & Sound Hillsborough, PCHS Raider Champions, Plant City High School Business Advisory Board and the Parent Teacher Student Association. Gold Sponsors for the event were Fryed Egg Productions, Hillsborough Education Foundation and Mosaic. To see a full list of sponsors visit:

The goal is for more career fairs like these to be held in other parts of the county.

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