PEORIA Ill. (WMBD) — Thousands of high school and college students visited the Peoria Civic Center Friday afternoon for the Skills-USA conference. It’s a hands-on competition in skills ranging in hundreds of career fields.

Students that qualified for the conference had to take a regional exam and be in the class of the desired careers. Executive director Eric Hill said getting kids to think about their future is essential to success.

“These students really get a chance to step outside the walls of their classroom and really dive into what the career field they are interested in is gonna look like. So it’s the cheapest investment into their future they could ever make,” said Hill.

The conference featured more than 130 different careers.