What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? Johnsonburg Mill Helps Students Find Out

In many Domtar mill communities, like Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, we are the area’s largest employer, offering careers that sustain families across the region and across generations. We are committed to nurturing young people’s interest in manufacturing, our industry and our company. That’s why our Johnsonburg Mill recently sponsored local students as they created a video for a contest that highlights manufacturing.

Johnsonburg Mill What's So Cool About Manufacturing?
Teacher Matthew Myers (rear) accompanied students (left to right) Shana Polaski, Alexa Mahoney and Sarah Love on their tour to Johnsonburg Mill.

The “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” contest is organized by Workforce Solutions for North Central PA. It invites entries from students across the region. Students are paired with a local business sponsor and provided video equipment, editing software and professional guidance as they work to script, record and edit their submissions.

Eighth-graders Shana Polaski, Sarah Love and Alexa Mahoney visited the Johnsonburg Mill, along with Matthew Myers, an art instructor at Johnsonburg Area High School. They conducted interviews, learned about our operations and recorded footage for their video.

Polaski’s father works in maintenance at the mill. As a result, Polaski and the other students knew a little about what the mill does. During their visit, they learned new things about Domtar and papermaking, like how many bestsellers are printed on paper made at the Johnsonburg Mill.

“We want young people in our area to understand what we do and what we offer,” says Greg Linscott, general manager of Johnsonburg Mill. “We are proud of our record on safety and sustainability and the jobs that we provide. The population in this area has been declining, and many of the college-bound students don’t return home to live and work after graduation. They may have misconceptions about manufacturing, and we’re working with schools and others in the community to change that and perhaps spark an interest in a career in our industry.”

Jackie Lundy, an administrative assistant at Johnsonburg Mill, worked with the students during their visit. She believes that with more knowledge about the mill and its operations, more young people would consider returning after college to pursue a career in their hometown.

Johnsonburg Mill Educates Students and Teachers

In addition to sponsoring the video contest, the mill invited more than 100 educators from the Ridgway and Johnsonburg school districts to an “Educator in the Workplace” day, where they can learn about the many positions at the mill and the skills that students need for those jobs. Gina Jones, Johnsonburg Mill’s human resources manager, and her team are making sure that every teacher and administrator in the districts will have the opportunity to participate.

Lundy, along with Process Engineer Benn Baxter and Reliability Engineer Mike Porter, also participated in a “career slam” event with other employers. The Community Education Center’s Business and Education Connect Program sponsored the event. Panelists from local businesses answered questions from parents and high school students about jobs in the region.

Johnsonburg Mill employees love their community and have invested in making it a great place to live and work. In 2017, colleagues spearheaded an effort to revitalize the Johnsonburg Community Center that has been at the heart of town life for nearly a century.

John O’Rourke, who grew up in Johnsonburg and returned as an adult to work at the mill and volunteer in the community, says, “We have a great town filled with good people, and a great opportunity to work for a good company. I’d like to see more people come back and stay.”

What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?

Projects like “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” give students a taste of careers that are available in their own hometown. As a result of their visit to Johnsonburg Mill and the video they made, each student who participated mentioned a career opportunity at the mill that they might consider: Love is interested in becoming an IT specialist; Mahoney, a pulp and power process engineer; and Polaski, an environmental engineer.

Myers, their teacher, says he was proud of the students’ professionalism and enthusiasm as they learned about local manufacturing and video production. You can view the finished video on the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? website.

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