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FBLA & OTC Team Up for another Entrepreneurship Camp
Teaching Innovative Thinking

Last August thirteen Brantley County FBLA middle school students participated in the fourth annual Okefenokee Technical College E-Camp, a project-oriented program designed to inspire, connect, inform, mentor and engage the next generation of Brantley County entrepreneurs.

Judy Hesters, Okefenokee Technical College’s director of continuing education, developed and coordinated the program in partnership with Jeanie Boland of the Brantley County Development Authority and Ruby Ann Sawyer, Brantley County Middle School FBLA advisor. Hesters created and organized the curriculum in such a way to expose FBLA participants to the possibilities that exist within their own communities to plan, create, and establish new businesses.Photo 1

For four hours each day over a five-day period, these bright, enthusiastic seventh and eighth grade students were asked to participate in activities that encouraged entrepreneurial thinking.  They were asked to develop a business concept, write a business plan, and develop financial management skills.  They also designed business cards, Web pages, learned about other marketing strategies, and took part in numerous innovative learning opportunities.

Local entrepreneurs, educators, community leaders, and business owners supported the camp with their time and resources. E-Camp students enjoyed presentations by several knowledgeable speakers, including Al Davis, who inspired students with his story. Davis explained how he came to be a business owner by delivering pizza while he was in the military. Now, as we all know, he owns several pizza franchises.

Larry Wainright, Vice President of Southeastern Bank, spoke to campers, as well, and shared valuable information about money management and the importance of good credit. In addition, educators from the OTC Economic Development Division cleared their calendars one morning to spend time helping the young entrepreneurs with their business and marketing plans. In turn, E-Campers traveled to Waycross on August 4 and toured Okefenokee Technical College, where they learned how the college can be a vital resource for aspiring entrepreneurs. Photo 2

At the conclusion of the training, students celebrated their accomplishments with a luncheon and awards ceremony. E-Camp coordinators would like to thank Southeastern Bank and Brantley County Family Connections for their financial support. E-Camp is a worthwhile, cooperative effort by local organizations, OTC, and Brantley County residents that benefits the community as it challenges young people to be innovative thinkers and to be persistent and adaptable in entrepreneurial endeavors.

Photo 1:  Brantley County Middle School FBLA members who participated in an entrepreneurship camp in August 2009 learned about the power of free enterprise and their potential as self-starters and entrepreneurs. Andy Brannen (left), Okefenokee Technical College (OTC) vice president for economic development; Judy Hesters (second from left), OTC director of continuing education; and Ruby Ann Sawyer, Brantley County Middle School FBLA advisor;  enjoyed working with E-Campers during the week-long program.

Photo 2: E-Campers showed off their entrepreneur “Be Your Own Boss” t-shirts at Okefenokee Technical College when they toured the campus as part of the program. E-Camp participants were (Front, L to R) Nicole Beavers, Melissa Boland, Erin Lartz, Nic Rehberg, CJ Cannon, Katrina Anderson; (Back row L to R) Shelby Wells, Lily Eunice, Shelby Johns, Lindsay Steedley, Nathaniel Rehberg, Wayne Gainey, and Benjamin Sawyer.


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