Three young adults from Wyoming are getting set to go on a road trip of a lifetime, touring the state in a large green RV to learn about career opportunities – and their own futures.
This April, they are participating in a three-week adventure with Roadtrip Nation, an organization that helps career seekers learn how to make a life doing what they love.
Driving around the state from April 12-26 and living in an RV, the Wyoming road trippers will stop in a variety of cities and towns to interview business owners and leaders about their career path.
“What I hope this brings to light is we have some really cool things in Wyoming,” said Ilaine Brown, Career and Technical Education education consultant with the Wyoming Department of Education. “What we’re trying to do is make sure everybody sees how much business and industry we have here.”
Brown said often Wyoming students receive CTE training in high school, go on to get post-secondary certification and then leave the state to get a job. She said she hopes this road trip program will showcase just how many diverse and interesting career opportunities there actually are in the state.
Brown worked with Roadtrip Nation to organize the Wyoming trip, and she noted the Department of Education partnered with the Daniels Fund, Strada Education Network and the Wyoming Workforce Development Council to make the trip possible.
She explained that her department doesn’t decide where the road trippers will go, but people from Roadtrip Nation take care of finding interesting people and businesses the road trippers can choose to visit.
Wyoming residents between the ages of 18 and 24 had the opportunity to apply for the road trip. Of those applicants, Roadtrip Nation selected three people to go on the trip. According to bios provided to the Department of Education, all three are interested in finding out what Wyoming has to offer.
Josh Fitzsimmons is a computer engineering senior at the University of Wyoming and has an interest in renewable energy but is uncertain about what career opportunities are available in the state.
Rachel Purdy of Pine Bluffs has a bachelor’s degree in economics and agriculture business from UW and a master’s in agricultural economics from Purdue University. After taking the first job offer she received after college, she is interested in looking for something more fulfilling.
Cheyenne’s Richard Resler Mutter graduated from high school in the middle of a pandemic and knew he wasn’t ready to go to college right away. He is currently working at a factory as an assembler, but is looking forward to hearing from people around Wyoming about their experiences.
All three will get to talk with people who have found their career here.
Their journey will be captured on video and will then be made into a show available to watch on PBS stations and on the Roadtrip Nation website in September. Brown said she hopes to host a red carpet event in Cheyenne where people can meet the three Wyoming travelers when the video is ready for viewing.
The Roadtrip Nation website, roadtripnation.com, is available to any career seeker. Anyone – whether they are lucky enough to be selected to travel the country in an RV interviewing people about their work or not – can take advantage of the tools available to career seekers on the website.
Brown explained the website has opportunities for career seekers of any age to learn more about how their interests can evolve into jobs they love. She said it isn’t just for youth – it is for anyone. By answering a few questions about personal interests and skills, visitors to the website can explore career fields related to those interests.
The site features videos of previous road trips and interviews with career leaders in a wide variety of fields. There are career exploration tools, as well, such as online courses. One area of the site is a place for people to share their own career story for others to learn from.
Brown said she encourages anyone who is interested in telling their career story to share it online at wyoming.shareyourroad.com. She said she truly believes every person’s story is different and can inspire others.
“It’s about inspiration,” Brown said. “It’s about how we are all unique.”
She noted one Wyomingite who has been passionate about the work of Roadtrip Nation is Ron Wild, a member of the WWDC. Wild is a regional business manager for Rocky Mountain Power, and his work takes him all around the state, where he encourages other people to share their story.
“Raodtrip Nation is an opportunity to modify the future of people that you will never have the opportunity to meet, make them believe in themselves and have the courage to try new things,” Wild said. “The purpose behind Roadtrip Nation is to try to provide the youth of today – and not just the youth – with some idea of what it takes to achieve certain goals.”
Wild said everyone has a story worth sharing about their experiences, and Roadtrip Nation gives people an opportunity to hear those stories – whether it is through the people the road trippers meet on their RV trip, or whether it is through the website.
“For every story that you can possibly think of, there is somebody out there who has lived it or is living it,” Wild said. “Oftentimes people always feel like they are in a bubble, and it’s just them. Roadtrip Nation is an attempt to try to provide the people with some idea of what it takes to get where they are and what it is that has led to their success.”