Holding a key to the future
Second graders at the Blooming Prairie Elementary School may hold a key to the future of new business ventures in Blooming Prairie.
Do you want to become a junior entrepreneur? That question was asked of 60 second graders as they participated in a Blooming Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce Junior Entrepreneur program.
What is an entrepreneur anyway? This question was posed the first of five days of class this past week at the BP Elementary School.
The dictionary says an entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to conduct business.
Students of Diane Pfiefer, Kim Lea and Denise Hadrath studied entrepreneurship for about 45 minutes Monday through Friday of last week.
Teaching the entrepreneur class were volunteers from the chamber: Linda Klemmensen, Rachel Klemmensen, Nola Wradislavsky and Amanda Schumacher. The second grade teachers assisted them.
Linda Klemmensen, owner of Sportstitch, has been involved in the Junior Entrepreneur program for more than 20 years. Her daughter Rachel joined her team this year.
This writer sat in on the final classroom session one day last week and followed the paths of a decision leading to bringing a new business to Blooming Prairie.
On the first day of the Junior Entrepreneur class, second graders learned about businesses on Main Street in Blooming Prairie.
On the second day, students made paper cookies.
The third day featured a walking field trip to the Blooming Prairie City Center to learn more about city government. While at the city center, students learned how taxes provide money to provide the following services: police protection, fire protection and ambulatory care.
City Administrator Mike Jones spoke about taxes while Police Chief Greg Skillestad, firefighter Lee Holtzberg and Emergency Medical Services (EMT) volunteer Linda Klemmensen discussed emergency services.
On the fourth day, students were involved in decision making with the purpose of bringing a new business to Blooming Prairie.
On the final day, students learned more about the banking process leading to becoming an entrepreneur.
"Thank you for letting me come to your classroom," said business owner Linda Klemmensen.
"Let's bring a new business to Blooming Prairie," Klemmensen challenged Pfiefer's class. She provided students with a map of downtown and indicated that two empty buildings existed and were potential sites for a new business.
Before a business can be recruited, Klemmensen said it was essential to study the pros (good) and cons (bad) of bringing a certain business to town.
"Let's brainstorm," Klemmensen suggested. Asked to define brainstorm, one student nailed it by saying "think."
Klemmensen then led the students through discussion, studying these words: trade-off, majority, ballot, vote and finally, a decision.
Klemmensen provided three business possibilities: Ralph's Roller Rink, Polly's Pet Store and Al and Amy's Arcade.
Discussing Ralph's Roller Rink as a possibility, students offered pros and cons. Pros included: having fun, birthday parties, good exercise, special family occasions, learning to skate and something to do inside. Cons included falling and getting hurt, losing equipment, cost and supervision. Getting hurt was mentioned by many of the kids. "No more getting hurt," Pfiefer told the students.
Polly's Pet Store had these pros: buy a pet, look at pets, buy things for animals, create jobs, take care of the animals and pet them. Cons mentioned included getting hurt by animals, animals could escape, noise, expense, allergies and potential for fire.
Al and Amy's Arcade was next on the docket. Pros included playing games, having fun, snack bar, win tickets, play inside, getting family together. Cons mentioned were getting hurt, fire, no electricity, etc.
The next step was to decide which business to recruit. Ballots were to be distributed to all students. Guess what? Linda Klemmensen forgot the ballots. "We can improvise," a student suggested. Yes, that happened with Klemmensen and Pfiefer making new ballots.
"You have to be private and secretive," Pfiefer told her students.
The ballots were collected and tallied by Pfiefer. "Drum roll please," she said. Polly's Pet Store was selected with 11 votes. Al and Amy's Arcade was next with six votes and Ralph's finished with two votes.
"You will have to talk to the mayor about getting a pet store in town," Pfiefer told her students.
As class concluded, Linda Klemmensen gave the students three things to take home: a work sheet, a colorful balloon and a certificate.
"You are the greatest teacher," one student told Klemmensen. "Come downtown and visit our businesses," Klemmensen encouraged.
Fifth graders will also participate in this program next February.