Many people work well past retirement age, and often they serve as mentors, leaders and sources of knowledge and wisdom for their younger co-workers.

MERS/Goodwill is seeking these workers to be nominated for the 26th annual Outstanding Older Worker of Missouri contest.

Whether they are employed at their local community center or library, engineering the latest consumer products, providing medical care at a major hospital, or bagging groceries at a local supermarket, employers are encouraged to recognize and honor their older workers.

In conjunction with National Older Americans Month in May, this year’s theme is “Blaze a Trail,” which recognizes trailblazers who achieved their dreams late in life and highlights how much older Americans are advocating for themselves, their peers, and their communities.­

Each year, the annual Outstanding Older Worker of Missouri contest honors Missouri residents who are at least 60 years old, gainfully employed at a Missouri job site, and working an average of 20 or more hours per week.

The event recognizes 10 regional winners from across the state of Missouri.

MERS/Goodwill is coordinating the event in the St. Louis area, as well as St. Charles, Jefferson, and Franklin counties.

“MERS/Goodwill is proud to celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions of Missouri’s dedicated senior employees,” said David Kutchback, president and CEO of MERS/Goodwill. “By recognizing the talent and drive of these workers, we hope to inspire older adults to continue to be actively involved within their communities.”

Nomination forms are available through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ website.

Nominees must meet the listed requirements and submit information about job duties, outstanding characteristics, special accomplishments and service to the community.

Nomination forms are due by Wednesday, July 6.

The selection committees will review each qualified candidate and designate a winner from each region.

The 10 regional winners will be invited to a two-day award ceremony in Jefferson City, including luncheons, tours and an award banquet, scheduled for Sept. 20-21.

The event is sponsored by the Missouri Senior Employment Coordinating Committee, consisting of Experience Works; Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph; MERS/Missouri Goodwill Industries; the Department of Economic Development/Division of Workforce Development; and the Department of Health & Senior Services/Division of Senior and Disability Services.