SEDA-COG Requests Input For Travel Needs Survey

SEDA-COG wants to hear from you.  How are you affected by transportation services in the central Pennsylvania region?  How could services better help you, your family, or your business in Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties?

Let us know by participating in a brief online survey.

The survey, available through Oct. 29, is being conducted by the SEDA-COG and Williamsport Metropolitan Planning Organizations, as they update the Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan in coming months. They especially want to know what you think about gaps in transportation services affecting seniors, minorities, low-income individuals, and people with disabilities or with limited English language skills.

If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Steve Herman by email or phone at 570-524-4491. In Lycoming County, feel free to also contact Mark Murawski by email or 570-320-2138.  SEDA-COG and Williamsport Metropolitan Planning both thank you for your time.


From GEDs to Penn State degrees

Photos provided to Penn State World Campus

From Penn State World Campus
(see original article)

Note: The Columbia Montour Chamber’s partnership with the Penn State World Campus allows employees of all Chamber members, their spouses and dependents a 5% discount off tuition through the Penn State World Campus, the online delivery unit of Penn State. For more information on this partnership and discount, please visit the special webpage for this partnership.  

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Serena Carlson and Kevin Doupe both dropped out of high school at 17. But last month, they graduated with degrees from Penn State.

“I had a very traumatic childhood,” said Carlson, 39, who lives near Seattle. “I never thought a university was in my future – ever.”

Carlson and Doupe both turned their lives around, and they shared their personal journeys with their fellow adult learners at a special event last month for Penn State World Campus graduates prior to commencement. More than 100 students and their families attended the World Campus Graduation Celebration.

Carlson said her father was an alcoholic, her parents divorced when she was a teenager and she left to live on her own. She was always a good student, but college wasn’t possible.

It wasn’t until 2014 that she changed her future. She got her GED and enrolled in a class at a local community college. An A- while juggling a full-time job and raising three children spurred her on to complete an associate’s degree. And with a strong GPA, she applied to Penn State for her bachelor’s degree.

In 2016, Carlson began her studies online in health policy and administration, determined to maximize her experience. She traveled to Costa Rica and Sweden to compare the countries’ health systems with the U.S. system, and she participated on a student panel at a conference for online instructors at the University Park campus.

“Never in a million years did I expect to be part of such a world-class university,” she said.

Eventually, Carlson would like to complete her doctorate.

Doupe also had a difficult childhood. He ran away from home at 15 and dropped out of school at 17. He married and divorced by his mid-20s, and he found himself as a single dad of two teenagers. However, the key to overcoming these challenges was to not let his past define him, he said, likening it to driving a car.

“You need to have a rear-view mirror because you need to know where you’ve been,” said Doupe, 42, who lives in Towanda, Pa. “But you can’t drive while looking in that direction. Life is happening in front of you, and that is more important than what’s behind you. It’s also the only thing you have some level of control over.”

Doupe has taken control: He will graduate with a master’s degree in human resources and employment relations and a 3.9 grade-point average. At work, he is a human resources manager for a national home-improvement chain.

He also was appointed to serve two years on the World Campus’ student advisory board, a group that advocates for students. He said the rewarding experience gave him the chance to visit University Park twice and offer feedback on behalf of his fellow students.

Doupe and Carlson, too, both returned to campus with their families for graduation, for good reason.

“Nothing makes me prouder than knowing that my kids are proud of me,” Carlson said.

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information about learning online.

Bloomsburg University Students Seek to Engage With Businesses and the Community

Even before the fall semester began at Bloomsburg University, members of the football team were helping local residents clean up from the recent flooding. With the semester now underway, there are many opportunities to engage with students for volunteer efforts and professional development. Businesses and non-profit organizations are invited to connect.

The Big Event is recognized for organizing thousands of students for community service projects on a Saturday each spring. However, student groups volunteer in the community throughout the year. The Center for Leadership & Engagement on campus can help connect non-profits and other groups with students for events or other efforts. Contact Keith Spencer at 570-389-3864 or email.

As students seek to develop employability skills, Professional U connects students with alumni, employers, and opportunities integrating the academic experience with professional experience in “real world” settings. Through the exploration of professional development topics and experiential learning, students build skills and confidence which prepare them for personal and professional success upon graduation. Opportunities include on campus engagement, internships, and workplace observations. Additional information with contacts can be found on this sheet.

Free Toolkit to Help Hire Veterans, Guard and Reserve

Chamber members are welcome to utilize a new free Veteran Hiring Resources Toolkit to help find and hire veterans, National Guard members and Reservists. The free Toolkit helps employers in four ways: 

  • 3-minute video briefing on the latest Federal Tax Credits for hiring veterans;
  • Recorded webinar providing many helpful recruiting insights that can be used immediately;
  • Guide to Organizations Helping Pennsylvania Employers Hire Veterans, Reservists and National Guard Members; and,
  • Submission of your job postings directly to employment transition counselors in all branches of the military.

The free Toolkit is published by Center for America, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is in a pro bono alliance with the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., and many trade associations across the U.S.  It encourages all employers to take advantage of this free Toolkit to get help hiring veterans, Guard members and Reservists. More than 200,000 active duty military service members leave the military every year and National Guard and Reserve Members are all expected to have full-time civilian employment.  These veterans and service members will bring discipline, leadership and advanced skills to help build organizations.

Owners, Managers and Human Resource Professionals Hear About Recruiting and Retaining Millennials

An engaged and active audience of over 40 Chamber members and other professional from around the greater Columbia/Montour region heard a presentation on recruiting and retaining millennials from Tina Welch of Welch Performance Consulting on Thursday morning, Aug. 23, at LCBC Church. The breakfast seminar, sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities and put on by the Chamber and PA CareerLink Columbia/Montour Counties, provided a forum for local leaders to gather and hear from a local business consultant and former human resources professional about some of the best practices for recruiting and retaining millennials, as well as some underlying facts and generalizations about the various different generations currently in the workplace. The seminar was catered by That Kitchen Witch, with coffee from one of the Chamber’s newest members, Profile Coffee and Roasters

The presentation began with some basic facts and statistics, including a table with some general identifying characteristics about the various generations currently in the workplace, including baby boomers, Gen X and Gen Y (millennials), as well as the startling fact (for some) that millennials on average only stay in their jobs for 2.6 years. Obviously, this has created turnover and recruiting problems for several organizations, both of which can cost money. On average, turnover can cost an organization five times the position’s salary. Attendees were asked what someone that stays in a job on average 2.6 years has been called – to which the group unanimously answered “job hoppers.” While that may have been the case in the past, the audience was advised to stop thinking that way, and that is now called career progression. 

It then went into what millennials generally want in a job, keeping in mind that as with all generalizations, it won’t apply to everyone, as there is always a bell curve, but if organizations want to be able to successfully recruit and retain millennials, they need to adjust to what they are looking for. For example, millennials generally want to know that they have opportunities for advancement and want to know what they need to do to get there. They also want constant feedback – both positive and negative – about how they’re doing at work and what, if anything, needs to change in order for them to be successful. Young professionals also want to know that they’re making a difference with their work, and what they’re doing is part of a bigger purpose, not just within the organization, but beyond as well. They also require job flexibility. With the advent of modern technology, having the freedom to complete their work outside of the traditional 9-5 workday, if appropriate, is something they value and work/life balance is also important. 

In the end, being able to successful recruit and retain millennials, as well as the next generation (called Generation ‘Z’ – those born in approximately 2000 and later), isn’t something that will happen overnight. It is in incremental shift in the hiring and operational practices of each employer, made to adjust to the evolving different generations in the workplace. Those organizations that are able to change when needed and those that get out in front of this issue and are proactive rather than reactive, will be the organizations that are the most successful. 

The entire seminar can be viewed below.