Samantha Bowens, a junior at Farmington High School, loves the idea of getting an adrenaline rush from working in medical services. So she spent a few minutes talking with the Hastings Fire Department about its EMS service at a career fair on Thursday, Feb. 28, at Hastings High School.

"I came on my own to look at the kind of different options for medical services," she said. "It was my first chance to do it."

Bowens and hundreds of other high school students from Hastings and surrounding communities had the opportunity to meet with a variety of exhibitors. Tables sprawled throughout the gymnasium featuring representatives from metalwork companies to cosmetology schools to U.S. Marines and more.

For Lauren Leifeld, a HHS senior, her interest is in pursuing art. So she talked to a representative from the Minnesota College of Art and Design and was pleased to find the information simplified for her.

"I'm unsure about my future right now and I'm just seeing what is out there," Leifeld said. "I want to go to an art school and it doesn't matter where, I just have a passion for art."

It's the fifth year that the career fair has showcased other post-secondary options for high school students, said Eric Van Brocklin, assistant principal with Intermediate School District 917.

ISD 917 runs the event and Van Brocklin said that the fair has grown from having about 80 tables to around 120 this year.

The fair gives students and employers opportunities to explore options, with some companies ready to hire immediately and others just looking to make an impression on their potential future employees, he said.

"A lot of times you'll get college fairs only and hiring career fairs only," Van Brocklin said. "We feel this is one of the few that we know of that intermingles the two."