First Class Petty Officer Thomas Brandt hasn't lived in Catawba County for long, but he knows its a place where he wants to live and work after his deployment.
Brandt, 30, lives in Conover, but will soon be deployed with the U.S. Navy. He doesn't know where he'll be, and he doesn't know what he'll be doing.
But he does know one thing: He's exactly where he should be.
"I wanted an adventure," said the native New Yorker, who moved to Catawba County in September. "I always wanted to do something really significant with my life."
Fewer people are living in Catawba in 2010 than were living in the town 10 years ago.
Catawba residents number 603, based on 2010 census data. That number decreased from 698 in 2000, when the last census was taken.
The 13.6 percent estimated population decrease means Catawba isn't growing at the rate officials predicted.
"We didn't quite meet the state's estimated growth rate," Catawba Town Manager Brian Barnett told residents and council members March 7 during his manager's report at council's monthly meeting.
A private pilot. A graphic designer. A dog groomer.
They are all employed in Catawba County, and they all came to Tuttle Elementary School's annual career day.
Representatives from about 20 different local careers arrived in Maiden on Friday to educate students about the skills, education and character it takes to be part of the workforce.