PRSD high school students taking on entrepreneurship
High school students in Prairie Rose School Division are taking part in a pilot project between PRSD and the Medicine Hat College Entrepreneur Development Centre (EDC) where they are learning about how to start and run their own businesses.
Christie Wilson, EDC project officer and Jen Kerslake, manager, fund development for the EDC, provided to trustees at their Nov. 6 meeting an overview of the project that involves the division's four high schools.
"The idea started to roll this summer," said Derek Beck, PRSD director of transportation, who was instrumental in getting things started.
Wilson visits the area high schools, South Central in Oyen, Eagle Butte High School at Dunmore, Senator Gershaw in Bow Island and Foremost School, once a week, teaching them about the ins and outs of starting a business, including how to make a successful business plan.
"Students go through the business planning process and pitch their business idea to judges. Each school has teams working on business models," said Wilson, who is currently working with 73 students.
As students work on their projects, central office has been busy preparing a student store for the selling of their merchandise.
"You have to see what the student store looks like. Our space is ready and the board has provided money for it," said superintendent Roger Clarke. "The students are working through this business plan cycle and we are looking at what can be done at our schools, our four high schools."
Any profits made would go back to the schools, Clarke noted.
"This is not about Prairie Rose making money. It's about the students learning. Any money will go back to the schools," he said.
Besides, providing the students with knowledge on entrepreneurship, part of the reasoning for the project is to encourage students from rural areas to attend the Medicine Hat College after completing high school.
"Your students are our future students," said Kerslake, adding that MHC is seeing declining enrollment from rural areas.
"We found students aren't going to post-secondary schools or are going to schools elsewhere," she said. It's vital we get into the high school classrooms."
The greatest decline, she noted, is with the 18-24 age group.
"Every 18 months, we do a scan and found the decline for that age group. They are trying to figure things out for themselves and we are trying to find how to get them back in," she said. "Time and effort is needed to promote entrepreneurship in our rural areas."
The MHC Entrepreneur Development Centre started in 2011 with a partnership between the college, RBC, and JMH&CO as a place where students could launch their business ideas with the guidance of business professionals.
"At the college, the entrepreneur centre is an option for any student and the ones who are there are there because they want to be," said Kerslake. "We also have an advisory council, made up of people from the business community who mentor the students."