Plattsburgh State’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter highlighted opportunities in nonprofit organizations during its fourth annual Mullet event Tuesday.

The Mullet event — given its name to reflect “business in the front, party in the back” — is a gathering of students looking to network and gain career advice and information from professionals.

Each year, PRSSA members at PSUC choose a theme for their next Mullet event. This year’s centerpiece was working in nonprofits.

“Nonprofits is definitely a field that interests students … because it’s giving back to the community,” PRSSA president Flora Veitch said. “There’s a purpose. There’s a mission statement behind it. So, it’s different compared to working in corporate, or working in health, or working in fashion, or sports. It has its own individual characteristics.”

A keynote speech was delivered by CEO of Planned Parenthood of the North Country Tess Barker, who gave students an idea of what it would be like to work in a nonprofit environment.

“Working for a nonprofit is like living in a small town,” she said during her speech.

Planned Parenthood has a record of stirring up controversy. Barker acknowledges this and said that reaching out to college students is great because they’re more willing to listen with an open mind.

“Even at a high school level, I think some of those teens are still under the influence of … values that their parents have brought to them, which is totally great,” Barker said. “I can’t teach anybody what they should believe, but I can give you facts, and I think when you get to a college level, (students) really just have so much more of an open mind. (The students) don’t have to agree with me, but (they) listen, and I think if we can get more people to listen, then that’s half the battle,” Barker said.

There are more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. Nonprofits contributed $905.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013.

In 2014, the total charitable giving from individuals and organizations reached $358.38 billion, rising for the fifth consecutive year, according to Giving USA.

“I see our generation is more of the caring type … we want to do something with purpose,” public relations major Nicole Vera said. “Nonprofits really kind of speaks to that and speaks to a lot of people in our organization because a lot of us do want to do nonprofit.”

Jo Ann Nelson, vice president of client services at Pierce Communications and board member of PRSSA’s national committee, thought this year’s theme was good for students because it showed them there are options.

She explained that her largest client is a nonprofit, and it pays its employees well.

“I think people have a misunderstanding of what nonprofits can be,” she said. “Nonprofits can be anywhere from an organization that has one or two or three employees to someone who has hundreds of employees.”

Nelson, who also sits on the board of PRSSA’s parent group, Public Relations Society of America, said she and her colleagues spend a lot of time at board meetings talking about the students.

“They’re the future of our industry,” she said.

Veitch, who played a crucial role in planning this year’s event, praised its turnout.

“We had a lot of people, more than just our members,” she said. “We had people from Greek life and different organizations on campus: Colleges Against Cancer, Up ‘til Dawn. We had a really great turnout of guys and girls, so that was awesome.”

Email Manny Vivas at manny.vivas@cardinalpointsonline.com

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