Bedford ONE: offering experiences from classroom to career.
In Bedford County, we offer the Bedford ONE Program in which high school students are offered a chance to tour a local industry or educational facility and talk to professionals about career pathways.
The Bedford One Program links high school students with local businesses based on their career interests. It is a partnership between the Bedford County Office of Economic Development, Bedford County Public Schools and area businesses. An advisory committee (made up of representatives from the county’s business industries, the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development) guides the program.
To date, more than 4,000 students have visited more than 50 businesses, and success is measured through surveys that are distributed to the students and businesses immediately following a tour. Survey results show 90% of the students feel the tours are informative and reinforce their ideas about their career choices. Also, 92% of the students surveyed said they are more likely to work or return to work in Bedford County as a result of what they learned on their tour. Since this program was implemented in 2009, high school internships have increased to nearly 250 a year, and numerous apprenticeships (as well as actual full-time jobs) have been offered to student participants.
“Participating in the Bedford ONE program allows Blue Ridge Optics to introduce local students to an important and rapidly growing industry. Students experience first-hand how optics are manufactured for some of the most exotic and exciting applications in the world, ranging from Defense, Aerospace, Research and Medicine, to items they recognize and use every day. By doing so, we hope to wake their interest in our field and steer them towards related educational and career opportunities. We also hope that some of the participants may one day take advantage of our internship program or perhaps even permanently join our team.” Justin Siehen, General Manager, Business Development at Blue Ridge Optics