Graduating Youth Hesitate to Stay Local

By MiKayla Kemp
With high school or college graduation comes the inevitable question for today’s youth: What am I going to do with the rest of my life?

For many of the graduates of Fulton and surrounding areas, the answer comes hand in hand with relocation.

More and more young adults are moving out of the Fulton area, and often times even out of New York State, after graduating.

Why isn’t there a pull to stay local? What attracts these young people to other places?

College graduate Willie Hordge attributes his desire to leave to lack of career opportunities.

“Basically, I want to leave this area because of the lack of career in my field,” he told Oswego County Today.

After graduating from Cazenovia College, Hordge actively searched for employment within his degree of criminal justice in the Fulton area. After nine months with no successful job leads, Hordge joined with FemaCorps and was able to travel the country and help those affected by natural disasters.

Hordge said traveling was able to show him that there are many areas throughout the country that are better able to provide him with the career he is looking for as a juvenile probation/parole officer.

After months of persistent job searching locally, Hordge had no success but said he’s already found ample opportunities in his career field while traveling and submitting applications and his resume.

For this reason, he is preparing to leave Fulton area and pursue his career in either California, Texas or South Carolina.

“I have recently had my resume accepted as a juvenile correctional officer as well as probation officer in California, which led to me traveling in order to take the civil service test,” he said.

Long-time Fulton residents have seen the steady decline of business in their city.

Once large, thriving businesses have since shut their doors and ended many opportunities for employment.

Some of the larger, most memorable business losses in Fulton include Nestles, Miller Brewery and Birdseye.

While Fulton has not seen replacements yet for all of these losses, K&N Foods has since taken over the former Birdseye facility and the city is relatively rich in entry-level jobs in areas such as retail or fast food.

But how does this fair for young adults looking for careers for stable, long-term success?

Local businesses like Huhtamaki, Michaud Residential Health Services and Interface Solutions Inc. still flourish in the city of Fulton.

Current G. Ray Bodley High School senior Shelby Drake has plans to relocate to Florida after graduation.

Drake plans to work through the summer, as he does now, at his two local jobs, Dunkin’ Donuts and Lakeview Lanes Ice Cream Stand. This will give him time to save more money for his move in August to Clearwater, Fla.

Drake hopes to work as a CNA and bartender/server for a year while in Florida, and then attend college at USF for nursing.

Although CNA jobs are available locally, Drake seeks to leave Fulton for a multitude of reasons.

“The jobs are limited, people are small minded, and the weather is awful. Florida has so many opportunities. Every place I walked into while I was there on spring break was hiring. The people are so nice there, they all have open minds,” he said.

The weather seems to be a common denominator in all those who choose to relocate to warmer climates.

“The weather is a huge factor on why I would want to leave,” Hordge explained.

Former Fulton resident Gary Kemp now lives in South Carolina.

“The weather is awful in Fulton,” he said.

Now Kemp finds himself on the beach after work almost every day and finds it to be “a much more relaxing atmosphere.”