MACON, Ga. — "It's not all about students going to college. It's about being able to, when you get out of college, to get a job, to become the employer, to be a gainful employee to make our country better," Bibb County Superintendent Curtis Jones said.
He delivers a message about career options after high school to students like James Jordan.
"Just coming up, in my grades and everything, I didn't know what I wanted to do. By the time I was a senior, I didn't know what I wanted to do," Jordan said.
Now, through a dual enrollment program with Bibb Schools and Central Georgia Technical College, he's made up his mind.
The Georgia Farm Bureau says agriculture contributes over $73 billion annually to the state's economy.
Georgia's the top producer in the nation for broilers or chicken that's specifically bred for meat production, making jobs for places like Perdue Farms here in high demand.
"Perdue Farms stepped in and became a partner with the Bibb County School system by allowing these kids to go to the next level and work at their facility as a maintenance technician," CGTC instructor Tony Shelley said.
"To be able to keep the talent and keep people in this part of Georgia and not have to leave our community to find jobs is very rewarding for all of us. I think it's a win-win for everybody involved in this," Perry Plant Operational Director Craig Pugh said.
"Those students will be greasing bearings, doing PMs, which is preventative maintenance, making sure the equipment is going to operate the way it's supposed to with minimal downtime," Shelley said.
"I can do something that some people in my family have never done, which is further my education and go get a high-paying career which I can do for the rest of my life and enjoy doing it," Jordan said.
Pugh says students who complete the Industrial Systems degree are guaranteed an interview with Perdue Farms.
Their entry-level maintenance positions start at $20 an hour.