Future Ready Spotlight (March): Amber Heckart, IJAG Professional, Ottumwa Community School District

Laura Williams, 21C Consultant, & Amanda Brink, Instructional Technology & Future Ready Consultant


This month’s Future Ready Spotlight, lands on Amber Heckart, an IJAG professional for Ottumwa Community School District. 


Pictured above: Ottumwa iJag students showcasing the donations from the Winter Wonderful Festival, a project their program spearheaded and held for the community.


This January, the Ottumwa iJag students held their first Winter Wonderful Festival. Students worked with local community organizations to plan a festival to enhance the holiday spirit for those with housing insecurities. Opportunities in which families participated included games, cookie decorating, coloring, hot chocolate, and a visit with Santa. Not only did this festival bring cheer to community members but also provided a means for the community to give back to local organizations that are in need. Overall, 75 guests attended and 347 items were donated that went to Whatsoever You Do, Good Samaritan, and Heartland Humane Society. 


There are five main areas in which iJag projects are categorized. Listed below are each area and projects OHS iJag students have worked on this year:


  1. Service Learning
    1. United Way Day of Caring, AHFA Daycare assist with breakfast and lunch
  2. Civic Awareness 
    1. Winter Wonderful Festival, Shark Tank commercial on housing insecurities and mental health, Donations to local organizations
  3. Social Awareness
    1. iJag Newsletter and Recruiting, iJag shirt contest, Thank you cards
  4. Career Development 
    1. College visits, Mock interviews, Business tours/speakers, Resume writing
  5. Leadership Development
    1. Campaigns, Iowa Workforce Youth Committee, Capitol visit with the Education Appropriations Committee

So what is IJAG?

IJAG or “Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates unlocks student potential. We help kids build the skills they need to be successful in the classroom, on the job, and in life. It’s the gift of self-sufficiency and it pays dividends to individuals, schools, employers, and communities. Programming is delivered in partnership with schools and is offered during the school day, for elective credit. iJAG provides trained specialists to implement the model, and schools provide physical space, materials, and seamless integration into the school day.” (Source:https://www.ijag.org/program-models


Learn more about IJAG and how to get a program at your school from the Department of Ed page or visit https://www.ijag.org/


Contact Amber at amber.heckart@ijag.org to learn more! 


Want to hear more about IJAG from Amber and her students? Join us for our annual statewide Iowa Authentic Learning Network Virtual Student Expo on April 26th where students from Amber’s class will be sharing out! Join live or register to have access to on-demand sessions and project showcases. Check out the tentative agenda here. Register here. 


If you are interested in license renewal for participating (either the same day OR at your own pace i.e self-paced learning), please register here. This is a great way to learn more about other future-ready programs and projects across the state! 

Want to share your future-ready story? Connect with Laura Williams at laura.williams@gpaea.org or Amanda Brink at amanda.brink@gpaea.org.