On February 23, 2022, thirteen students from Wolverine schools attended a Michigan Works! Talent Tour at Chagnon Funeral Home in Onaway, MI.
The tour began in the viewing room where funeral director, Melissa Chagnon Sayers, discussed the day-to-day operations at the business and everything that goes into a successful funeral service. She touched on the business aspects, how a funeral is organized, as well as the emotional/compassion requirements needed when working with grieving families. After the viewing room, the students toured the “showroom” area where caskets and urns were on display. The process and differences between a burial and a cremation were discussed, as well as costs and considerations. The last area toured was the embalming room. Melissa explained the process, the tools and chemicals, the training requirements for the embalmer, the added steps needed when Covid deaths started coming through the home, and the timeline between a death and a burial/cremation.
Throughout the tour Melissa described the education and training requirements needed for the different staff that are employed at typical funeral home. She included information about the regional staffing needs and mentioned how funeral directors are in need. At the end of the tour, Michigan Works! Youth Career Advisor Jeanie Flory spoke with students about how to learn more about careers in Mortuary Sciences, as well as how to use the online Career Pathfinder tool.
Students really enjoyed the tour and had many questions, especially in the embalming room. In student surveys many said they were surprised to find out how much goes into the process of organizing a funeral and preparing a body, as well as how expensive a funeral can be. A few students even expressed interest in the Mortuary Sciences field as a career.