Middle school students work with professionals to learn business ropes

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Students at Whitefish Middle School have been working with members of National Parks Realty as part of Junior Achievement's "It's My Business" program.

Some budding business students at Whitefish Middle School are already seeing their creative endeavors pay off.

Students in the Junior Achievement “It’s My Business” program recently pitched potential product ideas to members of National Parks Realty after working through a six-session business course.

Product ideas included interactive “Trakit Goggles,” a “Wifi Warden” application for Internet parental controls, “Clout Vision Goggles” that feature night vision, and a four-legged “Robo Dog.”

As a prize from National Parks Realty, the team behind “Robo Dog” won $100 to donate to a nonprofit of their choice. The North Valley Food Bank received that donation.

Kim Akey, office manager and real estate agent at National Parks Realty, said it was enjoyable getting involved with creative, business-oriented student projects.

“It was fun,” Akey said. “Once they understood what they needed to do, I think everyone had fun putting together a presentation for us.”

The “It’s My Business” program teaches entrepreneurship skills, giving students the opportunity to start a business from its ideation, innovation and market research phases through design and prototyping.

All of the Junior Achievement programming is implemented by local business professionals and community members.

“The curriculum itself is very structured to help them be creative,” Akey said. “It’s a combination of videos to see how others in real life have pursued their own projects, so they could see actual end results via watching a video series. So they could actually see what their goals were.”

Jeanne Brist, Business Teacher at the middle school, said having community members come in to teach the skills they use in their own careers has enormous benefit.

“I feel my students are spoiled, having extra adults coming in from the community to help teach them about entrepreneurship,” she said. “It really gives them a unique experience, combining our talents to walk them through the process of creating and presenting a pitch deck.”

Akey said National Parks Realty plans to teach another class in January.

“We will continue to try to be involved in the program and hopefully inspire others to volunteer,” she said.

To learn more about how to volunteer, please contact Carrie Pontzius by email at cpontzius@jaeasterniowa.org, or by phone at (319) 274-0760.

Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for the future, and make smart academic and economic choices. For more information, visit www.ja.org.

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