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Helmut Schmidt, Published October 11 2012

Madison students get basics of entrepreneurship

FARGO – Austin Reid and Mason Gustafson figure they’ve got this marketing thing down pat.

The Madison Elementary School fifth-graders are ready to sell investors on their carnival ride concept, the “Amazing New Drop of Doom.”

It’s a ride that will not only give riders a belly-twisting vertical drop, but comes with microphones and speakers to broadcast riders’ screams, the pair said.

All that “for $10 a family,” said Reid, who says that if selling the thrill of a possibly messy midway death doesn’t work out, he’d like to be a veterinarian.

Reid and Gustafson were pumped after getting some lessons in entrepreneurship from area business people Thursday.

Participants in the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo program, in collaboration with Junior Achievement, spent the morning tutoring Madison students on topics ranging from earning and saving for kindergarteners, to reading blueprints and urban planning for third graders, and resource management and manufacturing for fifth-graders.

It didn’t hurt that it was also Career Day at Madison, with many students dressed as doctors, lawyers, astronauts, rock stars and construction workers.

“It’s a pretty cool deal. It’s a great experience for our kids,” Principal Bobby Olson said. “I hope they (the students) see the connection between the hard work they do in reading and math and the jobs they want to do in the future.”

Nancy Eckman, program coordinator for Junior Achievement in the region, said the event was “a great way to move the business community into the classroom.

“What’s nice about this is they’re (the business people) from all over. It’s good because students see people with different job skills,” Eckman said.

Kristin Anderson, an accountant with John Deere Electronic Solutions, and Brein Olmstead, who works in admissions and teaches at Rasmussen Business College, talked with kindergarteners in Barb Michelson’s class about money, coins, earning and saving.

After reading a story, Anderson checked to see what the children were picking up.

“Does anyone here know what it means to earn something?” Anderson asked. “What does it mean to save something?”

Calie Larkin, who normally spends her days analyzing business loans at Bell State Bank and Trust, worked with the fifth-graders in Guy Vannote’s class

“The volunteer work is amazing,” Larkin said. “The kids have great ideas to share.”

Vannote said his students learned concepts that will come in handy for future entrepreneurship projects, such as “Marketplace for Kids.”

“It (the Chamber leadership program) is really nice. There’s a lot of hands-on activity,” Vannote said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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