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Organization produces entrepreneurs

I think that each entrepreneur has a duty to spread the word that entrepreneurship is a wonderful and rewarding occupation. So many times at Florida State, students wander into my office and are surprised that there is a major in entrepreneurship. They simply did not realize that this field existed.

For the last seven years at the Jim Moran Institute, we have provided the resources and volunteers to bring Junior Achievement into Leon County high schools. Junior Achievement is a wonderful national and international organization that provides support for entrepreneurship education in the school systems.

Every year I attend Junior Achievement’s end of the school year luncheon, and year after year, I am impressed by the far-reaching effects of the program led by Betty Presnell. Volunteers (other entrepreneurs) talk about how much they have gained from the experience, and teachers talk about how much the kids learn from volunteers. I continually run into students who thank us for bringing the program to their school and profess how much they learned about business as a result.

About a year ago, Florida Commerce Credit Union gave us some extra funds to hire a Junior Achievement coordinator, Wanda Brafford. However, they wanted Junior Achievement to be taught in Leon County’s elementary schools.

After sending out a request to only four elementary schools, we had more than 50 teachers who wanted the program in their classroom. This was a surprising and unexpected response, and we were short volunteer teachers. To meet the demand, the entire team at Florida Commerce Credit Union and Jim Moran Institute jumped into teaching these classes.

I just finished teaching the Junior Achievement curriculum to Mrs. Whitaker’s fifth grade class at Gilchrist Elementary, and I was so impressed by the students. They were smart and very attentive and really grasped the notion of what an entrepreneur does and how important they are to the community, as well as nationally and internationally.

In one of our final exercises, the students stood in a circle, and each was given a card that held the name of a car part and its country of origin.

As I called out a product, the student said where the product was from and then passed a string to the next person. As we did this, the string formed a large web illustrating the interconnectedness of our world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience as it showed me just how effectively Junior Achievement teaches entrepreneurship and that children are never too young to learn about it. However, we need your help. If you are an entrepreneur that would like to volunteer, please write Wanda Brafford at wbrafford@fsu.edu for more information. There is no pay for this service but you are gaining the knowledge that you are helping to educate students about the importance and relevance of entrepreneurship.

Jerry Osteryoung, the director of outreach of the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University, the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship and professor of finance, was the founding executive director of the Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. He can be reached by e-mail at jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com or by phone at (850) 644-3372.

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