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Walk-A-Bouts allow kids to explore career choices

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
June 29, 2012
— After welcoming children from the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville to the westside Janesville Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Michael Hotchkiss led them into an examination room.

"Who can tell me why an animal may have to come to the vet?" he asked the group of 6- to 11-year-olds.


As he waited for an answer, he explained that pets can't tell their owners when they're sick.


"That's why regular checkups are so important," he said.


Hotchkiss showed them the machines used to run blood tests, the X-ray and surgery rooms and the recovery area.


The kids were participating in their weekly Walk-A-Bout. The summer program was first offered last year to expose members of the Boys & Girls Club to a variety of careers.


"We have chosen to expand out into the community and visit businesses that aren't just downtown like we did last summer," said Becky Buchanan, director of program operations at the club.


The week before, club members visited The Gazette. Upcoming trips include Diamond Ted's Tattoo, the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport and the Janesville Performing Arts Center.


"We also plan on doing the police department and fire department, Local Vision, a restaurant, a salon and spa and a body shop," Buchanan said.


Last year, Walk-A-Bout toured similar businesses but only those within walking distance of the downtown club.


"We started this program as a walking tour of businesses and companies that were in our local downtown area where Boys & Girls Club members could explore different career choices and be aware of a variety of career paths that are available," Buchanan said.


"The businesses talk about what their company does, how they became involved in working there and what schooling is needed, if any," she said.


Hotchkiss said he was willing to participate because he enjoys working with different age groups.


"I love my job and like to get people interested in it. It's fun to see people excited about being a vet," he said.


Lilly Pfister, 7, was exactly that.


"I want to be a vet and decided that when I was 4," she said after the tour. "I have two cats, and I just love taking care of animals."


Brandon Heisz, 11, participated in the Walk-A-Bouts last year, too.


"I think it's interesting going to different businesses, learning about what they do and how they do it. Plus it's a fun experience," he said.


"I might like to be a police officer," Brandon said. "It's about protecting everybody and helping keep people safe."


Janesville police officer Chad Sullivan, who led a Walk-A-Bout tour last year, is happy to hear that.


"Once they see an officer is not a big, scary person, they can see what police work is all about. We don't just arrest people and take them to jail. We're helping people out in any situation," Sullivan said.


Through Walk-A-Bout, Buchanan said: "The kids can learn about different jobs and something that might spark their interest in something they're going to pursue."



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