What is the Careers Expo for Youth?

As one component of the United Way of Southwest Virginia Ignite Program, the Careers Expo for Youth is an annual event where students move through four zones filled with hands-on activities by regional employers in 16 different career paths. At this annual event, seventh grade students see first-hand what it’s like to participate in a chemistry experiment, climb a utility pole, practice CPR, or use a 3D printer – directly from industry professionals located in Southwest Virginia.

Starting in 2020, the Careers Expo for Youth will be held at two locations. Please see below for information on dates, times, and locations. Participating schools will be notified which location, date, and time they will be scheduled to attend the Careers Expo for Youth.


September 22-23, 2020

Abingdon, VA

Stay tuned for more info!

Abingdon Expo


October 6-7, 2020

Pulaski, VA

Stay tuned for more info!

Pulaski Expo

More information coming soon!

More information coming soon!


We need you!

An event as big as the Expo needs a lot of volunteers! Whether you participate individually or bring your whole team or organization, you’ll help make this year’s event a success. Lunch and t-shirts are provided for all volunteers!

We have lots of volunteer roles (described below) for you to choose from!  Click the button below to sign up by September 13, 2019. If you have questions about volunteering, email Taylor Rose: trose@unitedwayswva.org.


“Put Me Where You Need Me” Role
The Expo will require hundreds of volunteers with many different skill sets. If you are not sure where you might fit in, sign up as a general volunteer! We will find the perfect spot for you!

Set-Up and Break Down
Assist with initial layout and set-up and tear-down of Expo, unload and set-up tables and chairs, tape or rope off specific areas, hang piping and drapes, hang signage and other task as needed.

Runners and Relievers
Provide short term relief for business participants and volunteers who need a quick break.

Student Welcome Area
Help us welcome every one of the 4,000+ seventh grade students that walk through the door! Yes, every single one of them!

Maintenance isn’t the most glamorous of volunteer activities but without it, all could shut down!  Assure that all areas are kept clean and well stocked, including bathrooms, kitchen and dining areas, and pathways.

Parking Attendants
See to it that cars and buses are parked in the correct lot with easy access to buildings. Parking vest will be provided on-site the day of the event.

Vendor/Volunteer/School Registration
Be the first point of contact for volunteers, business partners and visitors. Registration volunteers will greet all guests and ensure that they are cleared to enter the premises.

Lunch Volunteers
Although lunches are not provided for school groups, some schools will be eating their bagged lunches on site. Student Lunch Volunteers will ensure that groups that eat on site enter and exit the designated lunch areas on time and in an orderly fashion.

Student Tour Guides
Be where the action is! Student Tour Guides will meet the buses, welcome the students with a simple orientation and guide and encourage the student groups through the Expo, all the while adhering to a stringent schedule. If you are outgoing, energetic and like to hang with seventh graders, this is the spot for you! (Individual shift will be adjusted based on arrival times of students.)

Zone Volunteers
Assist with the flow of students and helping the business vendors as needed in one of the four Expo zones. Work with the Student Tour Guides to engage students to make the Expo a learning adventure for those that attend.


Teachers, get your students excited for the event! Play these videos for your class before coming!

If you have questions about your school’s participation, email Crystal Breeding, Youth Success Coordinator at cbreeding@unitedwayswva.org.


Employers have a unique opportunity to engage students through conversation and demonstration. Students participate in five-minute hands-on activities at employers’ stations. As an employer that participates, you can show students what it’s like to be a chemical engineer, accountant, IT specialist, social worker, and more.

For example, past employers at the Expo have let students climb a utility pole, try on SWAT gear, practice CPR and giving shots, participate in a chemistry experiment, and use a 3-D printer to create a 3-D object.

If you have questions about participating in the Expo as an employer, please call Mary Anne Holbrook at 276.525.4075 or email mholbrook@unitedwayswva.org.

 Career Clusters

All Careers Expo for Youth activities fall within one of sixteen career clusters – groupings of occupations and industries based on the things they have in common. Our sixteen career clusters are nationally-recognized, and they are the same ones used by the Virginia Department of Education.

Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources

Architecture & Construction

Arts, A/V Technology, & Communications

Business Management & Administration

Education & Training


Government & Public Administration

Health Science

Hospitality & Tourism

Human Services

Information Technology

Law, Public Safety, Corrections, & Security



STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics)

Transportation, Distribution, & Logistics


Thank you, Sponsors!  We are grateful for the Sponsors who have demonstrated their commitment to preparing our youth for viable careers and a lifetime of learning!

If you have questions about supporting the Expo, please call Mary Anne Holbrook at 276.525.4075 or email mholbrook@unitedwayswva.org.