One of the goals of the Ponchatoula after-school program is to introduce its students to the many resources the city has to offer.
Recently, pupils and their leaders had only to cross the street to tour Elmer Corporation’s ultramodern facility with its space-age technology.
Greeted warmly by Director of Human Services Ellen K. Bies, SPHR, sHRBP, all sixteen visitors quickly became aware that to have top-quality candy, there must be top-quality cleanliness.
Leaving jewelry and upper pocket contents behind with Security, the group donned hairnets and lab coats or jumpsuits and began the journey where nothing is left to chance from beginning to end of the candy making process. Even one tiny foreign object finding its way into the mix means a whole day’s work would have to be “dumped”.
As everyone followed the leader single file staying within designated lines, the first stop was at special sinks for thorough handwashing before moving on to hand sanitizing. With all the white lab coats, it looked more like a hospital setting with medical personnel scrubbing before entering a sterile operating room.
In the visitor center, Director Bies’ interesting presentation covered details from Elmer history to current day procedures, describing the large range of job and education opportunities from basics to art, lab, and robotics.
From there, Bernd W. Weber, CTO, and VP of Process Technology took the group on tour of the plant where it continued to be “safety and sanitation” first, following the same care as employees: “Look, but don’t touch.”
Lisa Jones, who helped greatly in developing the after-school program, was as impressed and appreciative of the massive steel structures as the assembly lines, having come to work at City Hall after 22 years in Human Resources at Bradken Steel Foundry.
Following the candy-making procedure from mixing to packaging and shipping, each visitor concluded the fascinating journey with a gift box of assorted beautiful chocolates.
Participating in the Student Outreach community learning event were Program Director May Stilley and City Human Resources Director Lisa Jones; 7th and 8th grade teachers Alison Buzbee and Windy Haist; students Travis Brumfield, Aliana Dionisio, Mary Grace Ford, Ryan Ford, Cadence Holden, Nathan Michnel, Caleb Richard, Samuel Woodall; and 6th graders, Brinna Huizar, Kade Gill and Brayden Owens.