All posts tagged young professionals

How Has FLEX Shaped You? Members Share Testimonials


FLEX is devoted to providing a setting where young people can build relationships and develop themselves professionally. Here are some testimonials from FLEX members who truly believe in the FLEX mission and have seen the effects in their own lives.

One of my top goals in joining FLEX was to get more involved in my community. Through volunteer, social, and professional development events, I have achieved that goal. Being a part of leadership has also helped me expand my skill set in planning and organizing events and networking. Plus, I’ve made a lot of new friends and it’s really fun!

Kat Thompson

FLEX has broadened my knowledge of Venango County and the opportunities in the area. We’ve hiked Two Mile, attended shows at the Barrow, and participated in a guided informational tour of Franklin. Through personal connections made at socials, I have been able to get involved with organizations and give back to my community through volunteering.

Laura Ordaz

Joining FLEX has introduced me to new people, different activities and events, and places I may not have explored. The members are extremely inviting and helpful. A recent FLEX event gave me the opportunity to speak with other professionals and led me to my first job interview since moving here! It’s a great way to get your name out there and open new doors.

Deborah Thompson

FLEX gave me the opportunity to create a social circle and flourish in Venango County, and when I decided I wanted to thrive elsewhere, it helped me, too. My employers at the job I landed were impressed with the marketing and leadership skills I learned through FLEX and asked that I utilize those talents at work.

Marissa Dechant

Since my participation in FLEX as a college intern at the Chamber, I have seen the group grow tremendously as I have also grown in my career. The personal connections and leadership experience I’ve gained have shaped me into the professional I am today.

Ashley Cowles

These are just some of the ways FLEX has had an impact in the lives of young professionals in our region. We encourage you to attend an upcoming event or reach out to a FLEX member to learn more about opportunities the group brings.

Learn more about FLEX at venangoflex.org

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) September 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

September 2019 Young Professional Profiles: Deborah Thompson & Randy Arnold


Deborah Thompson recently moved to the area with her family and is excited to find a career and get more involved here. She is from New Hampshire and loves where she grew up, but has always been drawn to Pennsylvania, as her parents grew up in Hydetown and Oil City.

Deb attended Edinboro University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Sport and Recreation Administration and graduated summa cum laude. She has also completed courses through the Life Office Management Association (LOMA).

For her career, Deb most recently worked as a Claims Associate for Loyal Christian Benefit Association (LCBA), a life insurance company. She is currently looking for a job in our area and would like something with structure and a predictable work schedule. She is open to many different career paths but hopes to use her strengths in communication, interpersonal skills, and leadership, and she has also been described as friendly, dedicated, and a versatile worker.

With her husband Eric (who was featured in our June FYI), Deb is raising two children—Carter (7) and Peyton (4). She also spends time exercising, participating in sports and lawn games, playing board games, and listening to music. In our area, some of her favorite amenities include the trails along the Allegheny River, Wanango, Clarks Donuts, and Hasson Pool.

“In the next 5 to 10 years, I hope to be in a place that my family and I can vacation yearly, the kids are in sports and whatever activity they desire and I have a stable career which I enjoy,” Deb told us.

We look forward to getting to know Deb more and to help her become connected in our region!

Although he lives just outside Venango County in Grove City, Randy Arnold works here and has become involved in our community.

At Pioneer Energy Products (PEPRO), located on Colbert Avenue in Oil City, Randy is employed as Senior Mechanical Engineer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Grove City College and is a Licensed Professional Engineer.

Randy grew up in Bradford County, but stayed in Western Pennsylvania after accepting a job at Joy Mining right out of college. He has had the opportunity to travel the world, in which he spent a semester in France and traveled nationally and internationally since college, including Australia, India, China, England, Zambia, Canada, and all around the continental U.S.

Randy is a graduate of the 2019 graduating class of Leadership Venango, where he spent nine months learning about our region and gaining leadership skills. Looking towards the future, he told us he would like to “see the products built in Western PA thrive by creating value in places all over the United States.” He appreciates the business opportunities in Venango County, which have provided his source of income for over 10 years and he believes our area is “primed very well for business.”

In any free time he has, Randy focuses on family—his wife, Joy, and two children, Hailey and Blake. He enjoys camping and going to local fairs with them, and occasional dates with Joy.

“I have always found great people to work with in Venango County,” he told us. “You can count on people to be down to earth, wholesome, and hard working.”

Thanks for your commitment to our region, Randy!

These articles were published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) September 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

Young Professionals in the Community


We very much appreciate the help of young professionals through FLEX committees and events, including the Bike ‘n Brew and Ice Cream Social during Oil Heritage Festival. We also love seeing our members out in the community involved with other organizations!

We often hear “we need more young people involved,” which can be frustrating, because we see young professionals out and about all the time. Some organizations where FLEX members volunteer and serve as board members include the Oil City Arts Council, Barrow-Civic Theatre, Venango County Humane Society, Oil City Main Street Program, United Way of Venango County, and the Oil City and Franklin Rotary Clubs.

As longtime volunteers begin to retire and move out of their positions, there are many opportunities for young people to fill their shoes and take leadership roles. While it can be hard work and sometimes intimidating, it just takes a willingness to step up and help organizations continue to run and serve our community.

Community involvement is a learning process and new volunteers aren’t expected to know everything immediately. It takes time to learn how meetings are run, events are planned, and volunteers work together, but don’t let that keep you from playing a part.

Are you a young professional looking to get more involved in the community? Or are you a seasoned professional interested in having more young people participate in your organization? Join us at the FLEX Mixer on August 22, where all professionals are invited to network with FLEX members (see more information). If you’d like to get more involved with FLEX, don’t hesitate to reach out to any of our officers and committee chairs.

Thanks again to all the young professionals who volunteered at our recent events! See more photos on the back of the newsletter.

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) August 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

August 2019 Young Professional Profiles: Joseph Aylesworth & Mikayla Markle


Joseph Aylesworth works at Eckert Chiropractic in Oil City. After getting a double bachelors in science from Clarion University Joseph worked for his doctorate in chiropractics prior to receiving a position at Eckert Chiropractics.

He grew up in Oil City and is happy to be working in the area after graduation. A major goal for his work is to be able to help as many people as possible through chiropractics. Working in Venango County gives him the opportunity to meet many good people and work toward helping them feel their best. Eckert Chiropractic is one way he serves the community and helps others.

When he is not working, Joseph enjoys playing inline and ice hockey. He playing the guitar and records music as well. He also likes trying new foods and exploring the area by hiking the many wooded trails Venango County has to offer.

The beautiful hiking trails are one reason he likes living in the area. The local concerts are yet another reason he likes living in the area. Joseph also frequents unique shops and restaurants, like Taco Shack and Core Goods, which are other aspects of the Venango County life he enjoys. Joseph finds Venango County to be more than just where he lives but also where he works and plays. Join us in welcoming one of our newest FLEX members!

Mikayla Markle is a Chiropractic Assistant and Yoga Instructor at Eckert Chiropractic. She grew up outside of Emlenton on a farm and in 2018 moved to Franklin with her husband. After high school, Mikayla’s goal was to find something she is passionate about and turn it into a career. She began working as a chiropractic assistant and found this to be a career she fits into well. Chiropractics and Yoga have quickly become career she is passionate about. With a background in gymnastics, cheerleading, and pilates, teaching yoga is less work and more enjoyment.

Working with Dr. Kate Eckert enabled Mikayla to work towards a certification to teach yoga, which is one of the next steps in her professional career. She loves working and living in the area because of the proximity to her work, shopping areas, and home.

The forestry and local produce in Venango County are other reason she loves living and working in here. She says, “I also really love how much agriculture is still in the area. Being able to drive home from work and pick up fresh, local produce from a farm stand is really wonderful.”

During her free time Mikayla loves spending time outside. She likes to combine her passion for yoga and pilates with nature by doing them outside. She also frequents the many bike trails in the area and enjoys shopping local and cooking with local products. Mikayla spends time watching concerts in Bandstand Park in Franklin and visiting Whitehall Camp and Conference Center in Emlenton. Thanks for sharing your passion through your work and in our community, Mikayla!

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) August 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

June 2019 Young Professional Profile: Eric Thompson


Eric Thompson recently became a Venango County community member! Eric grew up in wine country in North East, PA, but he became the new General Manager at Wanango Country Club in March, bringing him to this area.

Eric earned his degree from Edinboro University in Comprehensive Business Administration. His two greatest achievements are his wonderful children, Carter (age 7) and Peyton (age 4). Also, finding happiness and being successful in a career that he truly loves and enjoys working in.

Eric’s short term goal is to finish his Class A golf professional certification for his PGA membership. His long term goal is to attain a Master Professional Designation with a focus in golf operations/club management, which less than half a percent of PGA members achieve.

Eric is new to Venango County, but is looking forward to getting to know all there is to do here. He enjoys going on the bike trail with his wife, Deb. Eric also enjoys spending time with his family, including taking them to their family cabin in Allegheny National Forest. Some of his hobbies include hunting, fishing, and golfing.

Eric loves learning about the rich history of Wanago and Venango County. He finds it very inviting and welcoming, and stated that “the people here are very nice and down to earth.” Eric also noted that there are so many Steelers fans here which is a great change from when he worked as a golf professional in New England with many Patriot fans.

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) June 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.