One of my favorite distractions from my day-job is to speak or present at a school. Over the years, I have had many opportunities to present and talk to students in middle-school, high school, and college about the credit world, collections, work-readiness, and business services in general. I open my presentation basically the same way, by asking the students; “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and then listening to the various answers. After taking several comments, I like to ask one more question; “What do all of these jobs and careers have in common?” No one has answered correctly yet! The answer is: money! Everyone will have to handle or deal with money in some capacity in life. And yet our school systems’ view of financial education is so pathetic in Oregon you didn’t even need any credits in personal finance to graduate for over 10 years! And now, you merely need a 1-semester class that can be considered “optional” in some schools. No wonder I am not worried about being out of work.
That’s where Junior Achievement comes in. As a Board member for the Southern Oregon JA, I see first-hand the need and reward of investing financial literacy with our students. And in 2013, Southern Oregon Credit Service has the privilege as the title sponsor for a brand new venture for Junior Achievement – “JA Finanace Park!”
JA Finance Park is a traveling financial literacy project that will make it’s inaugural trip around Oregon this spring, stopping in Medford at the Expo Park on April 16 and 17. We expect about 200 students from Scenic and Ruch Middle Schools to participate at the Park. After receiving 12 hours of education and prep leading up to the event, the students will be handed a tablet with a financial profile, and then they will need to negotiate their way through a day in the life at the park! This is real-life teaching and experience brought by the private sector in cooperation with these schools. These professional kiosks include banks, real estate, utilities, and other stores and expenses we all experience in life. The traveling Park was created and financed through donations and grants from many businesses in Oregon, with individual events having local sponsorships.
Junior Achievement is a great organization bringing necessary and valuable knowledge and experiences to our students through volunteers and private sector donations and action. The core missions are financial literacy, work-rediness, and entrepreneurship. We are looking toward a great event in 2013 and seeing many more schools and students participate in the years to come! Our future needs and will require people who know how to handle money!
For more information about JA in southern Oregon: http://jaorswwa.org/