UNI teaches students to be their own boss

To become a successful businessperson, it is important to develop entrepreneurial skills at a young age. According to the Kauffman Foundation Research Series, "it is clear that new and young companies and the entrepreneurs that create them are the engines of job creation and eventual economic recovery."

To help youth understand the importance of entrepreneurial skills, the University of Northern Iowa hosted a summer camp, "Be Your Own Boss: Youth Entrepreneur Camp" June 14-18 in the Business and Community Services Building. The camp was for students entering grades four, five and six.

The camp focused on entrepreneurship education, company tours and small business development.

"Students learn the process of business evaluation and creation, which will benefit them now and in the future," said Katherine Cota-Uyar, associate director of the UNI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

Campers participated in a wide array of business-related activities while attending the camp. During a tour of Wayne Engineering in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park, each camper climbed into the cab of a garbage truck and operated the lift arm to raise and dump cans. Campers also conducted market research with various UNI staff and potential customers using interview techniques they had just been taught.

"They learned some of the terminology of business such as opportunity and profit," Cota-Uyar said. "They learned some of the activities of business such as the four Ps of marketing, financial sheet terminology and much more."

The campers visited the Center for Energy and Environmental Education to learn about solar energy, and built and raced solar cars.

They visited the UNI Museum Marshall Center School and learned about how children from the 1920s learned, and toured the UNI Tallgrass Prairie Center and learned about seed types and mixing.students learn about seed types

They also received advice from Farmer's State Bank executive vice president and business development officer Ryan Risetter and financial advisor Jordan Alborn.

On the final day of the camp, the students presented their own business plans to parents and invited quests. They also held a business fair where they promoted their products and services. Each booth at the fair displayed the campers' posters, flyers, business cards and products.

Olivia Brown of Cedar Falls presented her non-profit organization, Seals, which offered swimming lessons for students unable to afford them.  Andrew Haan of Parkersburg presented his snow cone business. Kaleb Kinskey of Dike presented his lawn mowing and snow shoveling business. Seth Layton of Cedar Falls presented his lawn mowing business. Noah Mauer of Waterloo presented his music lessons business. Paloma Marshall of San Antonio presented her concept for a restaurant. Katie Rygh of Cedar Falls presented her scrapbooking business. Julian Wind of Waterloo presented his yard work business.

"Each of (the students) left the camp a more knowledgeable entrepreneur -- now and in the future," Cota-Uyar said.