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Youth Invasion Inspires Career Options
by Kristi Wilson, Youth Invasion Organizer
After five years, it’s now a Hillsboro tradition. Each year, City of Hillsboro employees and Youth Advisory Council (YAC) members welcome more than 250 high school students and educators from Hillsboro schools for Youth Invasion – a day of career exploration and getting familiar with how local government works.
You can stand in the Civic Center lobby at 9 am each year and watch droves of students depart from the school buses and climb the stairs to the building’s entrance. Each year, they attack the breakfast snack table like bees to a hive – and leave nothing behind. And each year, it reminds me of why I love my job.
Youth Invasion day is one of my favorite days of the year because we get to talk to kids about what we do at the City, and why we love our work. We get to engage with students who are interested in learning about the details of what we do every day, and we get to provide a creative space for them to picture themselves in our shoes someday. The Civic Center transforms into what is essentially a high school learning center and City staff become teachers.
There is a lot of prep work that goes into Youth Invasion, but it pays off when I get to see Building Department employees tour Downtown with a group of students, providing a clear visual of how their work directly impacts the safety of buildings and infrastructure. I love that students have the opportunity to meet and learn from them and the rest of our talented staff.
If this is the first time these students have been to the Civic Center, they see it is a space where they can learn and have fun.
Youth Invasion is the one day that students can learn about the jobs that bring us safe drinking water, keep our parks beautiful, manage our finances, and plan for the future – all at the same time. Our goal is to inspire a few of them to pick a career path in public service that they may have never considered.
Kristi Wilson is the lead coordinator for Youth Invasion and other City of Hillsboro youth development programs, which are listed at Hillsboro-Oregon.gov/GenerationHillsboro.