Volunteers from the staff of the FireLodge Youth Program and other CPN enterprises and departments recently participated in Junior Achievement Day at Shawnee Public Schools in an effort to promote positive practices by youth in their personal and financial decisions. Program Coordinator BJ Trousdale and CPN Community Resource Officer Kandi Cumbie spoke with 7th and 8th grade students at Shawnee Middle School along with other FireLodge Youth Program staff Michael Logan, Kyle Miller and Kyle Gipp. Also participating were Kathy Barrett of FireLake Diabetes Program, Tina Pollard of the CPN Community Development Corporation, Michelle Duncan of CPN Realty, Allana Gay of FireLake Resort and Darren Green from the Grand Hotel and Casino.
“Our lessons focused on various economic issues impacting every American. It begins with helping students develop self-knowledge about things they are both interested in and skilled at,” explained Trousdale.
Once establishing the interests of the students, the instruction continues on to show what career paths are available to them and what educational requirements are necessary to achieve those goals.
“We also focus on what to do with an income once you’ve set out on a career path in terms of promoting positive budgeting, saving and credit skills,” said Trousdale. “We explain that while they have income, there are things like credit scores that come into play and important issues like insurance that need to be taken care of as well.”
Junior Achievement is collaboration between volunteers from the local business community, civic organizations and educators to connect youth with relevant learning experiences. The goal is to show the positive aspects for local youth to pursue further education following their graduation in high school by showing basic knowledge about personal finances. Ultimately, the program’s success will reflect in the local community that boasts a highly trained workforce that will hopefully, draw further investment into the communities surrounding the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
CPN Community Resource Officer Kandi Cumbie, who works closely with local youth, also participated in the event and described the program’s impact in her day-to-day work.
“Teens who participate in events like this tend to be more confident, are willing to accept responsibility,” said Cumbie.
“This program gets teens ready for the real world. They realize the hard work their parents put in each day to give them things they need and want. I saw this in the class when they learned about the difference between gross and net income. One student asked their teacher, ‘How do you make it on this salary?’”
FireLodge Youth currently serves tribal youth from 12-17 years old, including seniors in high school. Members of FireLodge Youth Council meet once a month to take part in business meetings, fundraising and community service. The P.L.A.C.E. is an afterschool program that serves Native youth with tutoring, supervision and other activities aimed at promoting positive life choices. If you would like to learn more about these services, please contact BJ Trousdale (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Michael Logan (Michael.Logan@potawatomi.org).