Madison County High School student Gavin Heath lives in a subdivision in Hull, but he's learning to be a farmer as he cares for pigs "Tom and Jerry" at the MCHS ag barn. 

The freshman loves the camaraderie with other students at the facility who also care for show animals. 

"It's a family we've created at the barn," said Heath. "It's an awesome work environment. They're great kids to hang out with, and it's a great agricultural community." 

Heath's group of ag-minded friends at the barn will soon double thanks to a $50,000 grant from HireSmart Cares, a Madison County-based nonprofit focused on supporting career development opportunities for local youth. The money will be used to expand and renovate the barn before the start of the next school year. 

A call to action: HireSmart Cares aims to help youth realize their potential    

"This renovation will allow us to double the amount of students we're serving and double the amount of livestock projects that we can hold here (the barn)," said MCHS ag teacher Cindy Jones, who said the barn currently serves 12-to-15 students. "And it's just touching more lives and changing more lives." 

Heath said he's eager to see more students who don't live on farms be able to raise livestock. 

"This is an opportunity for kids like me who don't live out on land and live in a neighborhood," he said. "This is giving us an opportunity to truly grow our agricultural experiences." 

Heath’s mom, Jenny, said her family wasn't involved in agriculture until her son, Ian, decided he wanted to show livestock. Thanks to the MCHS ag barn, Ian had a place to learn how to care for animals. The freshman at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) is now the president of the Georgia Future Farmers of America (FFA). 

"If we didn't have the barn, my kids would not have done this," said Jenny about Ian and Gavin. "They would not have had these opportunities, period. So, with that being said, the more families we can pull in who are like us, then the more kids will have the same opportunities that my kids did and be able to grow in the same ways that they've grown." 

HireSmart U.S. Agricultural Assistance — Kaylee's Story 

Jones said the barn renovations will improve animal conditions by providing more space and cover at the structure built in 2015 as a teaching facility, which was later modified for livestock housing. 

"We realized our students needed an on-campus housing facility for their livestock projects," she said. "So we've modified, we've rigged, and we're making due with the facility we have here for our students." 

Jenny Heath, who assists at the ag barn, along with other parents, said the renovations will include a number of small, but significant upgrades. 

"We've been in the barn for five years now, and we've made it work, but just the things that are going to be done — the extra pavement that's going to be laid, the bigger pins, oh my gosh, if there's a wash pin, huge things that don't seem like a big deal, but they are," she said. 

Jones has seen livestock projects' impact on students, calling it "life-changing." 

"It gives them a sense of responsibility," she said. "They learn every day about the nature of livestock care. They learn good practices. They learn to be responsible. They learn to take care of things. It's just such a good lesson for students to learn. There are a lot of different pathways to success for students, but a livestock project, in my mind, is one of the best." 

Anne Lackey, co-CEO of HireSmart Cares with her husband, Mark, said helping young people find success is the purpose of their nonprofit organization and the reason for the donation. 

"You have to invest in our youth," said Anne Lackey. "And the more youth we can impact, the richer our community will be. That's really what it comes down to." 

HireSmart Cares U.S. Career Assistance — Construction Class Story 

Mark Lackey said funding the ag barn expansion makes sense financially because HireSmart aims to get the most bang for the buck in terms of impact. Many grants assist a single recipient, but funding a facility expansion will benefit youth for years. He said he sees exponential returns for the community on the money invested. 

   

"This isn't about the dollars; it's about the number of kids we can impact," he said. "We're glad to be able to help a number of kids over the years." 

Plans for a Madison County Ag Center and a livestock show facility have been in the works for years. Madison County is moving forward with the larger structure, the multi-purpose ag center, which will serve the community in a variety of ways, not all related to agriculture. A large livestock housing facility is a few years down the road. 

But the HireSmart donation means the high school can address livestock housing needs with renovations before the 2024-25 school year. 

Madison County District 2 Commissioner Terry Chandler, a farmer and a long-time leader in the push for a county ag center, said, "All of us involved in the local 'ag' community are thrilled" with the commitment from HireSmart to expand the student animal housing facilities at the high school. 

Chandler said students actively involved with individual livestock projects "have traditionally been the most well-balanced, best prepared, and most sought-after products of the MC Ag program."   

"When you witness the daily responsibility that is required, the family involvement, all the necessary husbandry skills that must be mastered — certainly including financial responsibility — team building, and exposure to the best students from all over Georgia and the Southeastern U.S., those end results are no surprise," he said.   

Beyond Words: Turning Your Company’s Core Values into Daily Actions   

Chandler said students with livestock showing experience enter the workforce equipped with practical tools, knowledge, skills, and "work ethic at a level that places them head-and-shoulders above and well ahead of the crowd."   

"They are thoroughly primed for success!" he said. "Selfishly, those of us involved in agriculture benefit by having an entirely new population of community members with a better understanding of the demands of production agriculture. Hopefully, many of these students will desire to add their skills and insight to careers focused on meeting the demands of feeding, clothing, and fueling a growing world." 

Chandler said students involved in ag programs also "get exposure to an entirely new list of career opportunities and industry contacts."   

"Their world gets a lot bigger and more exciting!" he said. "Thanks again to Mr. and Mrs. Lackey for their vision and gift. When this is coupled with the direction of a dedicated team of Vo-Ag instructors, committed students and parents, and a supportive community, the benefits to us all at many levels become immeasurable. This is a great start as we move closer to the reality of our ag center that will expand those opportunities even further." 

Jenny Heath said she pulls up to the barn and sees students enjoying themselves beyond the work, such as having Nerf-gun wars and other entertainment. 

"It's such a positive place for them to spend their time," she said. "And the group of kids is just a great group. They're all there with a common goal of taking care of their animals, doing the best they can at that next show the next weekend. Something's pretty special there." 

Gavin Heath said he and fellow students learn leadership skills and the importance of work ethic. 

"You really have to plan ahead on what you're going to work on," he said. "And you set goals you want to accomplish for the next show. And you have to work for it. You gain leadership through the other kids being there, and if there's anyone new who decides to show, you kind of lead them along and teach them what it is and what it's all about." 

HireSmart Filipino Scholarships: Shannen's Story 

To learn more about HireSmart Cares, visit hiresmartcares.org. To share an idea on how to advance U.S. workforce development, email info@hiresmartcares.org

Ava Willoughby recently got a taste of being a veterinarian when she had to care for her sick goat, Lupe, through the night. 

“We had to give her medicine throughout the night, every four hours,” said the eighth grader, who watched Lupe recover and regain her appetite. 

Ava loves the feeling of helping animals and plans to make that her career. 

“I like being around animals, and I feel like that’s what makes me happy,” she said of her desire to be a veterinarian for both big and small animals. 

HireSmart Cares wants Ava to thrive in that role. So HireSmart steps in with support for Ava and many other youth aiming to gain skills now for a brighter tomorrow. 

For instance, the nonprofit is covering the cost of an ag barn expansion in Madison County, Georgia so kids who don’t live on a farm can learn to care for livestock. HireSmart also funds ag-related scholarships and a variety of grants for youth interested in ag careers. 

Ava was able to travel to Indianapolis, Indiana, for the National FFA Convention in October with financial assistance from HireSmart for lodging, travel, and fees. 

She said she enjoyed the trip and had a chance to hear from a variety of people about their agricultural backgrounds. 

“It was fun, definitely really cold,” said Ava about the convention. “We had a lot of entertainment. We went to the zoo and then we had our sessions where we went and listened to people talk about their experiences.” 

The daughter of Josh and Brandi and the third of four children is in her first year showing goats with FFA. Ava has two goats, Peaches and Lupe, and will soon add a third, Ginga. 

“A few of my friends show, and I thought it would be really fun, and since goats aren’t the hardest to show for your first year,” she said. “The cows take a lot of work, probably double the time you spend with a goat.” 

Still, Ava said she will probably show cows during high school. 

“I’ve thought about having a cow,” she said. “I don’t feel like I want to do it right now, but I definitely want to when I’m in high school.” 

Ava participates on the middle school livestock judging team, learning to perform market evaluations. 

“If you’re judging your market animals for the meat, you want them to be bigger, and you don’t want them to be fat,” she said. “You want them to be bigger and muscular. And then for the breeding, you want them to have a good structure so they can hold up when carrying (offspring).” 

She’s also a middle school FFA officer this year, serving as the parliamentarian. 

“We’ll do a slideshow of how agriculture relates to what we’re talking about in that meeting,” said Ava. “The last meeting we did basketball. We stayed for the middle school basketball game, and I did a slideshow over how that related to agriculture.” 

She talked with fellow FFA members about how the basketball flooring is hardwood, the ball is made from cowhide, and the first-ever basketball goals were peach baskets. 

Ava smiles when talking about animals, including her dogs, Ivy and Banjo, and she’s looking forward to a future looking out for all creatures big and small as a veterinarian. 

HireSmart aims to help Ava and her peers take those steps to success, making the future brighter for all. 

Ava’s mom, Brandi, said she’s grateful for the support. 

“Being able to attend the National FFA Convention was definitely a privilege, said Brandi. “Ava was able to gain a larger perspective of the FFA organization and the opportunities it can provide. We are grateful that HireSmart Cares was willing to help provide Ava with an opportunity to expand her knowledge and build upon her success with FFA and her future endeavors.” 

If you’re interested in helping HireSmart support youth like Ava through a wide variety of workforce development initiatives, click here to contribute. 

Humans need four walls and a roof, food, running water, electricity, and furniture. 

Each generation must meet the hands-on demands of supplying such things, and HireSmart Cares wants today’s kids to have the tools and teaching they need to be self-sufficient in meeting society’s basic needs in the future. 

That’s why HireSmart funds U.S. agricultural initiatives, helping the next wave of farmers who will put food on our plates with scholarships, grants, program funding, and more. 

HireSmart also supports U.S. workforce development in the same way: putting quality boots on the feet of high school graduates entering the workforce, providing scholarships for students going into trades programs, backing young entrepreneurs with seed money for their business plans, and more. It’s all part of the “leave-it-better-than-you-found-it” approach to the world that underpins HireSmart’s core values. 

The nonprofit also supports local construction teachers with funding to supplement their classes with construction materials, tools, and funding for travel so students can broaden their perspectives on their options. 

A call to action: HireSmart Cares aims to help youth realize their potential  

Madison County High School construction teacher Zach Carithers and Jackson County College & Career Center construction teacher Cody Dyer were both presented with $2,000 checks from HireSmart to help their students this school year. 

Students in Carithers’ and Dyer’s classes participate in Skills USA competitions, where they get a chance to shine, show what they’ve learned in construction class, and gain confidence that they can venture into adulthood with solid, hands-on skills, such as plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, welding, and more.  

Both teachers expressed gratitude to HireSmart for the grants they're using to cover membership costs, entry fees, and lodging for students participating in regional, state, and national Skills USA competitions. 

Some students come from tough situations, and the skills they learn can be a ticket out of financial hardship. The boost from HireSmart helps such kids make that connection between learning and living a good life. Dyer recalled one financially challenged student walking to the school in the early morning darkness to meet the group that assembled pre-dawn for a Skills USA event. Dyer was struck by his commitment to be a part of the program, even without transportation.  

“He was the first kid there; he was waiting on us when we got there,” he said.  

Dyer said there’s a mix of talent levels in his classes.  

“You have a wide range, and we have some kids who never use a hammer and some kids who have used power tools on their dad’s farm for forever,” he said.  

Construction is taught in three levels, with students learning the basics in “Construction 1." 

Carithers said he holds “Math Mondays” with beginning students, who learn about measuring principles and see how math is fundamental to all building. Students also use hand tools to build birdhouses.  

“Now we’re doing power tools,” he said. “They (the students) had 1’-by-1’ sheets of plywood, and they cut them into a jigsaw puzzle.”  

Carithers said his intermediate students are working on home construction.  

“We built mini houses, 4’-by-3’ tall walls on a platform floor and then gable roofs,” he said. “But I gave each one of them a pitch, so they all had to figure out the pitch of the roof to figure out how to cut the rafters.”  

He said his “Construction 3” class works on more challenging projects.  

“We’re going to build three 8-foot walls, one with a door, one with a window, and one with a partition,” said Carithers. “And then we’re going to sheath one of them- can’t afford to sheath them all- and put siding on that one wall and shingles on that one part.”  

The construction teacher said his class is working with Madison County’s JROTC program to put up a 14’-by-14’ foot shed for the JROTC.  

“We’ll put the footings in, build the flooring, put walls up, tin the roof, everything,” he said. “So that’s a huge opportunity. Our kids get to practice. It will take us two weeks.”  

Dyer said he loves seeing students have fun in his class and learn new skills.  

“We worked with a table saw today, and we’re going to build a star,” said Dyer. “We’ll take a miter saw and cut it at certain angles, then put it together, and it makes a star. It’s pretty cool. You can hang it on the wall.”  

Carithers and Dyer envision their students taking their skills beyond high school toward productive lives, providing four walls and a roof, food, running water, electricity, and furniture for themselves, their loved ones, and our society. HireSmart Cares pictures this, too, and is dedicated to helping kids help themselves, hoping those students will also strive to leave the world better than they found it.  

If you have an idea about how HireSmart Cares can support the next generation, email us at info@hiresmartcares.com. See more about us at hiresmartcares.org.  

T-minus 10, 9, 8, 7…Madison County High School's drone program is about to lift off with help from HireSmart Cares.  

High school students will see the town of Danielsville from above the treetops in months and years to come as a new JROTC drone program opens their eyes to the latest in aerial technology and its applications in the employment world.  

"I'm excited for them (the students)," said JROTC First Sergeant Francisco Ramey, who oversees the MCHS program with Col. Robert Stuart. "I know it's going to take off. It's going to be awesome."  

Ramey and the cadets accepted a $4,000 check from HireSmart Cares after the MCHS Veterans Day program Nov. 9 for the new drone program. The 25-year military man and 10-year JROTC instructor in his third year at MCHS said the grant will make a big difference for local students.  

"It (the grant) means support," said Ramey. "It means individuals out there really want to support our dreams and goals for our future. I've been to several different educational institutions, and it was the opposite. But support is outstanding here in Madison County. Everybody says, 'What can we do to help? What do you need?'"  

The instructor thanked first-year MCHS principal Christy Epps for supporting JROTC and its newest endeavor. JROTC students chanted, "Dr. Epps! Dr. Epps!" at the check presentation ceremony and also roared when HireSmart co-CEO Mark Lackey, accompanied by his co-CEO wife, Anne, announced the $4,000 award from the nonprofit, which focuses on providing the next generation with an array of workforce development opportunities, such as learning about aerial technology.  

"I talked with First Sergeant and said we'd be happy to support the drone program, and so I'm presenting First Sergeant with a check for $4,000, and it's for every one of you to learn a skill, whether it's in the military or private industry," said Lackey. "Drone operators are in big, big demand. You can create a whole career out of what you'll learn here and have fun doing it."  

Ramey said 90 of the 139 cadets in the JROTC program and about 40 students who are not in JROTC have expressed an interest in participating in the drone program.  

"If it (the drone program) excites them about coming to school, if it excites them about being in class if it excites them about possibly looking at another avenue of employment upon graduating high school, then we're just going to have keep pushing this thing," said Ramey, who envisions expanding the program to the middle and elementary school level in years to come.  

An experienced drone operator, Ramey said he's consulting with existing JROTC drone programs to learn from them so "it can be a little more seamless for us." Epps secured a charter grant through the school system to purchase drones for the program. MCHS will use three levels of drones: beginner, intermediate, and professional, and start with 17 initial drones.  

Students will learn a wide range of drone skills. They'll work as teams to run missions, using coordinates to photograph specific items. They'll pick up and deliver packages. They'll learn how to utilize grid coordinates, mapping, and programming. They'll see how math applies to drone operations.  

"We want to teach them how to set up command centers and how to set up relays," he said. "It's going to be great."  

A number of public safety services are using drones to quickly scout emergency situations to determine what response is needed. The First Sergeant added that potential jobs in drone operations are vast and growing. He spoke of aeronautical first responders, aviation applications, recreational opportunities, construction, real estate, photography, cinematography, firefighting, and information technology uses.  

"This is not going anywhere," he said of the need for drone operators.  

The HireSmart grant will allow JROTC to purchase replacement parts and drones when needed and fund travel for the cadets to learn about drone technology. Ramey spoke of a trip JROTC will take in June to the Florida Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.  

"I'm trying to let them understand how the dots are connected in the aeronautical and aviation field," he said.  

Ramey said the drone program fits into the bigger vision for JROTC, which he said is helping today's youth better themselves, feel pride in a job well done, and learn about all the opportunities they have to succeed while improving the world around them. JROTC teaches students about leadership, and Ramey said he's proud to see programs, such as the Nov. 9 Veterans Day ceremony, directed by JROTC students, not the instructors.  

Ramey envisions a job placement program at the high school. He loves to see students learn new skills and return to Madison County to teach the next generation, and he anticipates that happening with the drone program.  

"Let's get out of the mindset of the JROTC just being a military program," he said. "We're trying to teach life skills and help them find what they really want to do. We want to give them viable options."  

The First Sergeant said the drone program melds in-class learning with the opportunity to get outside and view the world from new angles.  

"I'm a hands-on learner, and I see that with these kids, too," he said. "That's why I always believe in, 'Hey, let's go outside. You should see this!" 

Our food doesn't grow in grocery stores.             

That's one of the first agricultural lessons a child should learn in life, the fact that a lot of hard work is involved before any bite we take, from milking cows to planting and harvesting crops to transporting food from farms to stores.

The farm-to-table journey is a web of human collaboration, know-how, and daily effort.

HireSmart Cares, a 501c3, supports its local farming community and wants to see the next generation of farmers succeed. That's why HireSmart supports the ag community from every angle, whether it's providing scholarships for students pursuing ag-related degrees or committing to 25 percent of livestock housing costs at the soon-to-be constructed ag center so students who don't live on farms can take on the responsibilities of animal care and perhaps venture into an ag career.

HireSmart U.S. Agricultural Assistance — Kaylee's Story

HireSmart is always asking, "How can we help?" So, it provides aid in various ways, such as awarding a grant to a local teenage soap maker to purchase a milk machine to use with her cows that supply the milk for her soap.

The nonprofit provided a grant for Madison County's October Pioneer Harvest Festival for children's "Farm Fun Zone," which was used to purchase miniature tractors so kids could feel the thrill of being a "farmer" while waving at mom and dad.

HireSmart Cares has a simple mission: "helping kids." We're always eager to support the next generation with tools, technology, time, and teaching. We're always searching for children and teens who aim to better themselves and be tomorrow's leaders. We want to give those young people that extra boost to succeed.  

Our nonprofit supports the next generation in two areas of giving:

  1. Supporting young farmers
  2. Supporting U.S. careers through workforce development programs, scholarships, and grants

HireSmart U.S. Career Assistance — Jeremiah's Story

"I have witnessed the impact of Hiresmart Cares from an educational and industry standpoint, and the contributions made by them are life-changing for students starting their careers," said Jake Slusher, former construction teacher and current Field Training Director for E.R. Snell Contractor Inc. "Hiresmart Cares helps students overcome unforeseen expenses that general scholarships do not cover. They have helped students entering trades buy tools, purchase boots to keep them comfortable at work, uniforms/work attire, and provide funds for transportation. Many scholarships require students to go to college or enter a certain field, but Hiresmart Cares puts the student's dreams first by helping them in many different industries, including healthcare, construction, manufacturing, and business entrepreneurship."

Help us help kids. Do you have an idea of how HireSmart can support the next generation? If so, contact us at Info@HireSmartCares.org.

Jeremiah Weaver marched across the graduation stage in May and took his high school diploma in hand. Soon, he had a sizable paycheck in his possession, too. 

The 18-year-old Madison County High School graduate is working nights at Caterpillar, the world's largest manufacturer of construction equipment.  

"I like it," he said. "It's something new. We build upper frames for the 308 excavators." 

Jeremiah got a financial boost before he started his Caterpillar career with a "Workforce Development Grant" from HireSmart Cares that provided funds for quality work boots.  

"They're good boots," he said. "I wear them eight hours a day, every day." 

Jeremiah says each shift starts with a safety meeting.  

"And then you go set up your area, and you build your part, which is your upper frame, and weld everything together, and then you push it through a robot," he said. "There's a post where you build the part and tack everything together, and you take the part that you tacked together and put it in the robot, and the robot does the full welds onto the part." 

The recent graduate, who was introduced to welding at Madison County High School by ag teacher Joshua Daniels, says Caterpillar provides a lot of opportunities for him, but he's planning to start his own welding company in a few years.  

"There are a lot of ways you can move up at Caterpillar," he said. "But I'm going to start my own welding company. I want to go to Athens Tech to get my business degree. It will probably be about five years before I can (start my business) because I want to do it right and have enough money to start it the way I want to." 

Jeremiah, who likes to hunt and fish, said it feels great to earn a living right out of high school.  

"It’s a good paycheck, too,” he said. “The last one was $1,400 for two weeks.” 

Jeremiah’s story is exactly what HireSmart Cares hopes to see: a young person introduced to a career skill in grade school and then making the most of that knowledge with a good-paying job after graduation. HireSmart funds numerous workforce development programs, grants, and scholarships to support young people in their quest to better themselves and their communities. 

Mark Lackey, co-founder of HireSmart Companies was the speaker at Rotary to share the vision of HireSmart Cares.

Troy Hanson's family doesn't need Starbucks. No, they have a coffee whiz under their own roof. And Hanson, a rising high school sophomore, aims to make a career out of the coffee business. 

"Ever since I was young, I just like making coffee and food, and I have my own little store that I have in my house," he said. "I started doing that when I was about maybe 12. My family would order something out, and I'd make it. They would order lattes, hot chocolate, cappuccinos, frappuccinos, all sorts of stuff." 

Hanson, the son of Richard and Christy Hanson, plans to open his own coffee shop in a few years, and he got a big boost from HireSmart Cares recently, a $2,500 scholarship to help him get the business off the ground.  

"I will use the money for probably equipment," he said. "That takes a lot of the budget. I will probably need a larger espresso machine as well as a register." 

Hanson earned the scholarship by winning first place in the 2023 Madico Makers contest put on annually by the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Young entrepreneurs in the county make a "Shark Tank" business pitch to a panel of judges. HireSmart awarded the second and third-place winners $1,000 and $500. 

This year's winner presented his plans for "Anchors Café."  

"I thought of Anchors because it is in the Bible meaning 'hope,'" he said. "I talked about how I would open up and who I would ask for coffee beans, who I would purchase from, and where I would set my shop up when I do." 

Hanson initially plans to set up his coffee business within HomeGrown Market in Colbert, Georgia, which offers a variety of homemade items from Madison County and the State of Georgia.  

"They need a person to sell sandwiches and beverages," he said. "Once it (Anchors Café) gets larger, I would think about opening up in a different building and hiring." 

Hanson, who plans to study business and cooking in college, voiced his appreciation to Mark and Anne Lackey and HireSmart Cares for the scholarship.  

"I would say thank you so much for this opportunity," he said. "It's greatly appreciated that you helped me as a young person to become independent and make my business a business." 

HireSmart Cares actively promotes young entrepreneurship, job skills development in grade school, and financial literacy so that youth can be prepared to enter the workforce and perhaps start their own businesses directly out of high school. The organization discourages students from saddling themselves with significant college debt without a clear path to pay it off. 

Hanson, who has five siblings, said his most popular item is "mainly my frappuccinos," but he said that's not what he typically drinks.  

"My favorite is a flat white," he said. "A flat white is where it's mainly just espresso, and milk has barely gotten any foam." 

There are many threats in the digital world, and it takes technical savvy to safeguard today's economy from malicious actors. 

Remington Gurley, a 2023 high school graduate, wants to be on the front lines of that battle, and he's getting support from HireSmart Cares to prepare him for that role, receiving a $1,000 scholarship to attend the University of North Georgia, where he will major in cyber security.   

Remington said a friend introduced him to the possibility of a career in digital safety. 

"I knew I wanted to do something with computer science, but I didn't know what," he said. "And so my friend and somebody he knew were playing around with it one day. He said you want to join us, and I said, 'Sure." And it was super cool, the idea of ethical hacking." 

Remington, a kicker on his high school football team, as well as a soccer player, has many interests, including computers, mountain biking, music, and aviation. He wants to fly planes one day. 

But his faith is his central focus in life. Remington said he dedicated his life to Jesus Christ around the age of 8, and he's active at his church, Trinity Baptist, helping lead worship as a keyboardist. 

"I started playing piano at age 6," he said. "I practiced and stuck with it, and I guess it's been 12 years now I've been playing." 

He said playing in a praise band is different than performing alone, noting that in a band, you have to be aware of other players and not fill all the space, letting others shine musically. 

Remington said he's worked at the church the past couple of years providing compter-tech, musical, and lighting assistance. He said Trinity worship leader Jeff Branson is a role model to him. 

"These past couple of years, I've been hanging out with him and working with him a lot more," he said. "His impact has been huge on me. He's smart. It's very encouraging to see him lead other people. It's like, man, this is the guy I want to be like." 

Remington spent several weeks after graduating high school leading worship at Camp Maranatha, where kids attend a Christian summer camp. 

"To me, worship is one of the big ways you can connect and be in His presence," he said. "You feel you are with God, and I want them (the kids) to feel that feeling and to understand that the words we're seeing aren't just words on a screen. They're powerful and have meaning behind them." 

While cyber security is his college major, the recent graduate doesn't close the door to a career in the ministry. 

"I've had thoughts of graduating college and then maybe going into ministry somewhere," he said. "And that's one reason I enjoy leading camps and stuff in summer." 

As he looks ahead, Remington knows he has the support of his parents, Todd and Brandy Gurley, who also have a daughter, Journey, an accomplished pole vaulter at Virginia Tech. 

"Whatever I've wanted, my parents have always encouraged me, and their biggest thing is, 'Whatever you do, enjoy it, but also make sure you put that don't just halfway do it,'" he said. "Put 100% effort into whatever you do.'" 

Remington also has the support of HireSmart Cares, which funds numerous workforce initiatives and scholarships to propel U.S. youth to a bright, productive future. The college-bound teen said he wants to repay HireSmart's generosity by giving back to his community after graduation. 

"It's very encouraging and very helpful," he said of the scholarship. "College is expensive, and I hope they (HireSmart Cares) are going to be happy with what I do and happy with my success. And hopefully, after I come back, I can help in the community and give back what they gave me." 

Donate And Help Kids Here.

Tony White didn’t need college to get a foot forward in life. He got a good-paying job right out of high school with a construction company operating heavy equipment. And he got a welcome boost to start his career with a grant from HireSmart Cares. 

The graduate of Jackson County High School in Hoschton, Georgia studied construction under instructor Jake Slusher and learned about heavy equipment primarily on simulators. But he turned the experience into the real deal, working machinery for Snellville-based road construction company, E.R. Snell Contractor, Inc., which handles a high volume of road projects in north Georgia. 

“Mr. Slusher asked me if I’d like to do the heavy equipment class, and I was like, sure,” said White. “And after I started liking it and being good at it, he was like, ‘Would you like to work with ER Snell?’” 

Well, heck yeah! White jumped at the chance. Now, he’s operating a bulldozer on ER Snell road construction sites.  

“I’d like to work my way up in the company,” he said. “It (ER Snell) seems like a pretty darn good company.” 

He said it feels good to get a nice paycheck right out of school. And he said he hopes the money can help him develop another skill, blacksmithing. White said he plans to save up enough money to purchase tools. 

“I got to get a few paychecks first,” he said.  

The recent graduate expressed gratitude for the boost he received from HireSmart Cares, which provided “Workforce Development Grants” for White and 13 of his Jackson County classmates who entered the workforce or the military directly out of high school.  

“It will help me get a car,” said White.  


HireSmart Cares encourages youth to find a career path that doesn’t involve taking on massive college debt without a plan to pay it off. The nonprofit organization supports agricultural and vocational programs that help students find fiscally rewarding career opportunities right out of high school. If you would like to donate, we would appreciate your donation. DONATE NOW