LARWILL — Being a conservation officer is something that Blake Schroeder, a 7th grade student at Whitko Middle School, has wanted to be for as long as he could remember. Schroeder is the $100 grand prize winner of the Junior Achievement Schwab Essay Contest for seventh grade students.
This year, students were asked to submit an essay addressing the topic: My Dream Career. In his essay, Schroeder recalls spending quality time at his grandfather’s property and enjoying the wilderness, all while identifying that he wants to make the world a better place by becoming a conservation officer and “stopping people from doing things they’re not supposed to be doing…” Schroeder goes on to say that “If I can take the step of stopping illegal or dangerous action then I have accomplished that goal.”
Junior Achievement and Whitko Community Schools coordinate activities together as early as elementary school in grades first through fourth. Volunteers from the community come into the classroom and teach students curriculum that is directly connected to state standards.
Students in 5th grade classrooms visit the JA Fort Wayne location and discover the foundational concepts and principles behind economics in a small town whose citizens are comprised of their classmates. Students continue through their JA programs well into high school where they visit Finance Park, the personal finance component of the JA curriculum which culminates in a simulation supporting concepts students have learned in the classroom.
The Schwab Essay Contest is part of the Junior Achievement curriculum at Whitko Middle School and is hosted in 30 counties across Indiana. One winner in each county is rewarded with a $100 check by Schwab. “They are very supportive of Junior Achievement,” said Stacey Dumbacher, area coordinator and regional operations trainer for JA
“The community examples are incredibly important for students,” said Dumbacher, “because the next time they [students] go out into their community, they can make that real world connection to what they are learning in the classroom.” The JA programs are free to the schools because the board of directors work diligently to insure fundraising efforts are met to provide schools with this programming free of cost.
Business leaders help students understand the real life application of the curriculum as they transition from education to career. For seventh grade student Blake Schroeder, who is in the middle school years of his education at Whitko, this means becoming a conservation officer some day is possible thanks in part to programs like Junior Achievement.