Hobbton High School students interested in engineering and environmental science had the opportunity to hear from local experts in the field Thursday morning when staff from the Clinton-Sampson Planning Department visited the school to share their knowledge, tell about their experiences, and give students a glimpse of how the things they are learning in their classes are applied and used in the workings of the local community.
Planning director Mary Rose and senior planner Lyle Moore spoke to Hobbton High’s Engineering Design class and its Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science class, sharing with students information about the work they do with planning and zoning, the environmental issues they have to address, how they use Global Information Systems (GIS) in their work, and about possible career options.
“I’ve been in planning for 18 years and I was brought into it through a community development block grant,” said Rose, explaining to students that those grants help to renovate houses in low-income areas. “I started out as an office assistant then worked my way up to planning specialist then to planner and now to planning director…so don’t count out the small things because they can lead to bigger opportunities.”
Rose then gave students a glimpse into the planning department’s day-to-day work.
“We explained to the students the fact that the planning staff manages several areas of city and county government. Planning staff serves as administrator of zoning, subdivision, and floodplain regulations, enforces city and county development ordinances and nuisance codes, as well as serves as staff for the city and county planning boards, the Clinton Historic Preservation Commission, and the Clinton Main Street Program,” said Rose.
To help the Hobbton students make connections between what they see and the work the planning department does, Rose pointed out to them that the planning department was involved in many aspects of downtown Clinton’s revitalization project including the placement of the millstone artwork, putting the power-lines underground, and installing brick pavers, new lamps, and decorative stoplights in the downtown area around the courthouse, changes that were made to develop and promote Clinton’s downtown.
Rose and Moore also talked with students about the current projects going on in the community in which the planning department is involved.
“Staff is currently working with citizen steering committees to develop a Sampson County Comprehensive Transportation Plan, Clinton Bicycle Plan, and Clinton Comprehensive Plan,” Rose said. “Each of these plans analyze where Clinton and Sampson County are now with regard to these topics, where we want to be 20 years from now and how we get there.”
“To me planning is like a big puzzle,” Rose told students. “We start with a plan and make sure that it all fits with the rules and regulations we have to abide by.”
Hobbton technology teacher Brandon Thompson is glad that his students get the chance to hear from local experts, people who spend their days working to put these kinds of puzzles together for the community.
“It allows them to get the expertise of the people who do this day-to-day,” said Thompson. “It also gives them exposure to these kinds of fields and helps them see what it’s like in the real world. It helps them understand the real-life application of what they’re learning.”
After Rose and Moore’s presentation, the students noted that they enjoyed having them visit the class and that they learned a lot.
“The fact that you have to get permits, even for just building on a porch and or putting a building in the backyard,” said senior Cynthia Ortiz of what she found most interesting in the presentation.
“I think it’s great for them (Rose and Moore) to take the time to come to our school and share their knowledge with us,” fellow senior Aldair Feliciano added.
Rose also sees her and Moore’s visit to Hobbton — their first one to a county school — as a good opportunity not only for the students but also for the planning department as well, noting that she “was very pleased when Mrs. Katie Vann (Hobbton’s career development coordinator) contacted my office to request we come to Hobbton to speak to two of their classes.”
Making such visits to local schools is something that Rose hopes to do more of as it helps them accomplish two of their main goals. “Planning staff is currently developing plans to better communicate with and educate our citizens concerning planning, zoning and the permitting and development process. We hope these efforts will assist our citizens and save them time, energy, and expense by providing them with good information and customer service.”
“I hope our time with the students provided them information they may use when working on special projects and learning about engineering and environmental science” added Rose, “as well as spark interest in possible careers in the field of planning, whether it be land use, transportation, environmental or any other planning related field.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.