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Families

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Photo Courtesy of midwestliving.com

Katherine Hartner
CONTRIBUTOR

On March 18 around 900 people attended Fontenelle Forest’s Fairy Faire, a program specifically aimed at families with young children.

Families turned out to build fairy houses, some so small and well-camouflaged as to be nearly invisible, others large and ornate buildings worthy of being called mansions.

Jamie Vann, the Teen Naturalist volunteer coordinator who managed the Faire, said that Lacey Pucinski, a staff member at Fontenelle Forest, had heard of Fairy Faires and thought it would be a good way to get kids interested in the STEM fields. Vann said that around 550 people had pre-registered for the Faire, but that more people actually showed up, giving an estimate that was supported by the staffers at the front desk of around 900 people.

Elizabeth Chalen, Fontenelle Forest’s Volunteer coordinator, gave some insights on what goes into planning for an event like this.

“The hardest part is preparing all the materials and making sure that there’s enough of everything,” Chalen said, adding that there are always people who just turn up, making it difficult to prepare.

“We actually ran out of coconut oil about halfway through,” Vann said, laughing. “We didn’t expect the popcorn machine to take so much.”

“My favorite thing is seeing the people, what they’ve done and how creative they are, just having a good time,” Vann said. “Sometimes it’s just stuff shoved everywhere, and sometimes it’s these big beautiful houses. Whatever kids want to do.”

“I enjoy seeing the families out in the forest building fairy houses together, spending time together,” Chalen said.

“Any way we can, we try to incorporate learning into activities,” Chalen said. “With the tokens, they’re learning math. You can’t just buy everything in the store.”

The attraction isn’t just for kids, however. Vann mentioned that a pair of adults registered as well, and parents get very involved.

The first Fontenelle Forest Fairy Faire was held in 2010.

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Photo Courtesy of insperity.com
Photo Courtesy of insperity.com

Jessica Wade
OPINION EDITOR

There’s a rumor going around the workplaces of America that Millennials are lazy, praise-needing employees who lack communication skills. Admittedly, a few of those stereotypes may be justi-fied, but it was the Baby Boomers who handed over the participation medals. Like them or not, millennials are coming to, and staying in, Omaha.

The children of Baby Boomers, Millennials are between 18 and 34 years old, who grew up amid the age of technology and in a some-what economically unsound society. They are ambitious, confident go-getters changing the American workforce.

Omaha was ranked sixth among the top 50 U.S. cities with a significant increase in millennial inhabitants, according to data from the census and the American Community Survey, with an increase of 14.3 percent to be exact.

The sudden influx of millennials setting up careers and families in Omaha makes sense. Typically new to the workforce, these workers look for a stable economy, relatively cheap real-estate and low costs of living, all of which Omaha has. Throw in the decent night life and appeal of midtown and downtown—boom, Omaha becomes a beacon for millennials.

Omaha isn’t alone. Millennials will soon become the most represented generation in the workforce, sorry Generation X.

Currently representing one-third of American workers, many businesses are meeting this large demographic half way by making changes that are “Millennial-friendly.” Among the evolving businesses is General Electric, a company traditionally known for something many Millennials re-spond negatively to: categorizing employees as numbers.

GE has long been known for its system of ranking employees and firing the bottom 10 percent. Recently switching to a more qualitative performance report, GE is following in the footsteps of many companies by acknowledging the Millennials’ need for constant feedback. The age of video games may be to blame for this need for instant gratification. More than anything else, technology has shaped how Millennials work.

Growing up alongside the Internet and smart phones, this generation has had nearly unlimited access to information and communication. As a result, they have discovered that work can be done almost anywhere and at any time, causing the boundary between working and living their lives to become skewed.

As performance specialist and author Bonnie D. Delesandri put it: “Although Gen Xers brought work-life balance to light, the idea doesn’t make sense to Millennials. It’s not two different planes to them. Work doesn’t shut down at 5 p.m., and life events happen throughout the day.”

Another accredited trait of Millennials is their aim for work that will impact their community and environment in a positive way. These people don’t just want a job that will pay the bills; they want a career that will make them feel they are making a difference in the world.

A survey by Deloitte’s found that 75 percent of Millennial employees believe that businesses are more focused on its own agenda than on improving society, something that this generation takes very seriously.

Millennials are also extremely tolerant, a trait that may have to do with the fact that they are the most diverse generation in the United States. Fifteen percent were born outside the United States and one-fourth speaks a language other than English, according to the Millennial Generation Research Review.

Whether or not Millennials are good for the workplace is a matter of opinion. However the unavoidable truth is that, for better or worse, this tech savvy, socially conscious generation will someday soon be in charge of not just the American workforce. Nebraska’s Legislature has the largest number of Millennial senators in the United States, proving that this generation will soon become leaders in politics as well as the workforce. Look out Omaha, Millennials are coming.

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