OHIO VALLEY — A program which began eight years ago continues to teach today’s youth the ins-and-outs of running a business, as well as finance, banking and leadership.
Since the 2009-10 school year, Farmers Bank has hosted a Junior Board of Directors program for students from area high schools. The students meet monthly to cover various topics associated with running a business, as well as taking a field trip to the Ohio Statehouse, with a stop by Rocky Brands, Inc.
The mission of the Farmers Bank’s Junior Board of Directors is to, develop communication with the leaders of the future; Foster a stronger understanding of the finance, banking and economic issues affecting our community, as well as our nation; Provide an opportunity for students to gain exposure to a corporate board environment; and Encourage students to develop outreach programs that can better unite the company and its community.
Farmers Bank President Paul Reed explained the program is also a way to show the students on the Junior Board the importance of small business, as well as learning about finances and items such as balancing a check book.
Throughout the course of the school year, students meet monthly with bank employees who serve as their consultants, covering the process of starting the business. Meigs County Economic Development Director Perry Varnadoe provides valuable experience and advice to the students as part of the program, as well as.
Meetings include, the Organizational Meeting where the board determines the type of company, as well as covering shareholder investment and articles of incorporation; Financial statements, including accounting equation, income statements and balance sheets; Choosing employees, as well as benefit packages and staffing strategies; Product specifics and marketing, covering what and how to market the product; Site selection, with topics of site selection criteria, whether to lease or buy and tax incentives; Field trip to visit the statehouse and Rocky Brands Inc.; and Whether to sell or expand the company.
Reed explained that as the board works through forming the corporation they serve as the Board of Directors for that company, with officers for the company selected each month. The selection of new officers each month allows for the students to learn several different roles.
One of the highlights each year is the trip to Columbus to visit the Ohio Statehouse where they have the opportunity to learn how laws effect businesses. During this year’s trip, students met with State Sen. Frank Hoagland, State Rep. Jay Edwards, as well as Jason Wilson from the Governor’s Office of Appalachia. They were able to tour the Governor’s ceremonial office and sit at the cabinet table.
The group also stopped by the Rocky Brands corporate office in Nelsonville and the distribution center in Logan as part of the trip, something particularly interesting as the students had formed a shoe manufacturing company this year.
Seeing a major corporation in their own backyard also helps for the students to see that businesses such as Rocky Brands can make it in the area they live in.
Erin Krawsczyn of Farmers Bank explained that each year the bank reaches out to the principals of the area schools to select students to participate in the program. In order to be part of the program, students must have a 3.0 GPA, and write an essay on why they want to take part in the program. They are then selected by the principals of the school.
Krawsczyn said that trip aligned with the message that it does not matter where you come from as to what you can accomplish and that it is important to give back to where you came from.
While the basics of the program remain the same each year, the students drive where it leads, with each group putting their own touch on things.
Reed explained that there are others in other areas of the state who have inquired about starting a program such as the one Farmers Bank has for students in their respective areas.
Outside of the monthly “board room” meetings, the Junior Board of Directors assists with events such as Crawl for Cash and other community projects through the bank.
While the program may only last one school year, the experience, friendships and connections continue for years to come.
Krawsczyn explained that there is almost an “alumni connection” with former junior board participants. Additionally, some of the junior board members have went on to intern with the bank and make other connections that have followed them into college and beyond.
Junior Board of Directors participants for 2016-17 include,
Eastern: Elayna Bissell, Sidney Cook, Mattison Finlaw, Kaitlyn Hawk, Naomi Hoffman and Madison Kuhn.
Meigs: Hope Diehl, Carmen Doherty, Cole Hoffman, Sydney Kennedy, Rachel Kesterson and Bradley Logan.
Southern: Sydney Cleland, Hannah Evans, Miranda Greenlee, Kendra White and Nikita Wood.
Wahama: Lauren Fields, Baylee Hoffman, Cass Kimes, Kaleigh Stewart, Pia Tomanek, Madison VanMeter and Mikenzie Warth.
Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews.