Not many teenagers can say they’ve had the experience of speaking in front of an audience half the size of their town, but three students from Nakusp Secondary School (NSS), Carmen Larder, Rhys McLeod, and Cameron Olson did just that. The students took part in Enterprise Week in Pasco, Washington from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.
Enterprise Week is a week where senior year students from the three high schools in Pasco learn how to develop a business from the bottom up. They learn how to start a business, develop ideas, run simulations, how to do trade shows, and get to really develop an idea of what the business world is like.
The students, who are part of the Outdoor Education Program, first heard about Enterprise Week when Mayumi van der Pol, a member of the Rotary Club of Nakusp, asked if any of the students would be interested in going.
Because Larder, McLeod, and Olson plan on going into business related careers, the three thought it would be a good opportunity.
Once it was decided who would be going, Rotary paid for trip and organized homestays with Rotary members in the area.
Arriving at the TRAC Centre, where the event took place, the students were divided into groups, 54 in total. Each group created its own company.
“In the company we have a CEO, an administrative assistant, a project manager, a finance team, marketing team, production team, and we have a company advisor, which is an adult who knows about business ideas and how to do all that,” said McLeod.
Along with being the only students not from the Pasco district, the NSS students were the only ones to have experience in running a business. Students in the Outdoor Education Program sell both fishing flashers and portable fire starter kits.
“We don’t simulate this,” said Olson. “We do it with our own money, and we developed a self-sustaining course and program.”
Adding to the students’ experience was their presentation.
Originally, they were just coming down to take part in the event, but when associates learned of what they were doing with the Outdoor Education Program, they were asked to be keynote speakers as well.
Larder, McLeod, and Olson did a 30 minute presentation in front of 850 students, discussing the program and its entrepreneurial aspect, wowing their audience with their experiences.
“I think it blew them away that we were doing this,” said Olson. “The message that we brought to them is ‘If a small school like this can do it, why can’t you guys? You have all of these resources and all this potential to do something great at such a young age, and you could easily do it.’”
Along with making new friends and potential business connection in the future, the experience has given all three students a new sense of confidence.
“I feel really fortunate to have had that experience, because I feel a lot more comfortable with public speaking,” said Larder. “I don’t see myself having an opportunity to speak in front of that many people here in our small town, so I’m really glad that I had that experience.”
When asked if they would do this again if given the opportunity, without any hesitation all three students said yes.
The Outdoor Education students would like give a big thank you out to all their hosts and everyone who made this possible, including Kees and Mayumi van der Pol, Peter Gajda and Dorian Boswell.