Two Bellevue East High School sophomores have been working to promote understanding of the American enterprise system among students by holding seminars at local schools.
"It doesn't have to be big economics, it can just be learning how to save money in your piggy bank," Joey Walther said.
He and Colton Patrick are members of Bellevue East's Future Business Leaders of America, a national association for students in grades seven through 12 who are interested in business-related careers. More than 5,600 students in more than 150 high schools in Nebraska participate in FBLA.
Colton and Joey will be competing in a statewide competition in April with their project, Project BEECON, which stands for Business and Economic Education Community Outreach. (The N doesn't stand for anything, they said.) They have visited elementary, middle and high schools in Bellevue to give presentations to students about the importance of saving money, what the job market is and how the economy affects their lives.
"I think it's important to teach them about the economy and ways that they can be financially secure in times like this," Colton said. "The sooner they learn the better."
On Thursday, the two were at Logan Fontenelle Middle School in Lori Ballinger's seventh-grade class. Ballinger said it's important that her middle-schoolers begin to understand the complexity of economics, and the presentation by Colton and Joey is effective in doing this.
"The earlier they understand their role in how everything works together (in economics), the better," Ballinger said. "The students listen to these guys better than us. They're closer in age and they think 'Oh, if it's important to these guys it's important to us.' "
Colton and Joey created a website outlining basic information about the American enterprise system. They also created a lighthouse logo for their project because they say it can provide "brighter" futures.
The website includes a quiz students can complete using information Colton and Joey teach. It asks questions like, "Where can you open a savings account?" and "What is interest?"
There is a prize for the class that correctly answers the most quiz questions.
"That's another thing that they'll learn," Colton said. "In the American enterprise system competition is key. So we give them an incentive for being engaged and paying attention."