For high schoolers, a career in the baking and snack industry may be one of the best-kept secrets out there, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s because there are innovative programs like the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS), which was developed by the Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, Kan. Here, juniors and seniors take specially designed classes that allow them to explore potential careers while working with industry professionals on real-world problems and projects.

Founded in 2009, the CAPS Network consists of 69 programs in 125 school districts spread across 19 states and three countries. In this network that spans across the nation, students may sign up for courses ranging from science, engineering and mathematics to other disciplines. One course focuses on the Future of Food where mentors open the doors to the food industry for students to see.

“It mirrors what industry is really like,” Joe Whalen, the course’s instructor, told Baking & Snack for its November issue. “It’s part science. It’s part business, and it’s understanding society’s relationship with food.”

The first semester of the multidisciplinary course immerses students in the entire breadth of the food industry. The second semester allows students to take a deep dive into a topic of interest.

“What makes the ‘Future of Food’ class unique is that instead of being specialized to one area, you’re getting a broad, sweeping overview of an entire industry where you see all of these different specialties that are involved in this particular industry,” Mr. Whalen said.

It’s no secret: CAPS is definitely opening the eyes of students to the food industry.