Kneehill County councillors heard a presentation from a non-profit society that aims to educate kids about finances and business during their regular meeting Nov. 24.
Reeve Jerry Wittstock and Coun. Debbie Penner attended the meeting virtually, with Deputy Reeve Faye McGhee chairing the meeting.
Junior Achievement, represented by staff member Melanie Willerth, made a presentation to council with three goals in mind, she said: raising awareness of the organization, recruiting volunteers and funding opportunities.
Willerth stated the organization offers courses in host schools intended to teach student about finances and business.
She provided a summary for councillors listing programs such as More Than Money, Our Business World, A Business of Our Own, Dollars With Sense, Stronger Together, Economics for Success, Investment Strategies and World of Choices.
Willerth noted three communities within Kneehill County currently have Junior Achievement programming including Linden, Trochu and Three Hills.
The 16 programs are offered to about 400 students.
She noted the organization would like to get more awareness of the programs’ value, all of which are offered free of charge to schools, and ideally recruit more volunteer instructors.
She explained the programs are offered to students by community members who are knowledgeable about business, and would include one night a week for about 16 weeks.
Junior Achievement is a non-profit society which is always happy to see more sponsorship stated Willerth, who added that sponsors are always recognized on program materials.
Deputy Reeve McGhee asked about the organization’s structure and funding.
Willerth answered Junior Achievement has a board of directors and relies heavily on fundraising, with some funds coming from communities and some from the provincial government. The business sector also supports the program she noted.
Reeve Wittstock asked how much it costs to offer the programs in Kneehill County. Willerth answered that courses include expenses such as materials and volunteer training, adding up to about $200 to $250 per course.
Coun. Penner stated her kids participated in Junior Achievement programming and learned valuable skills like budgeting.
She asked if courses are currently accepting, and Willerth answered that there are still courses registering for December and also next year.
Coun. Glen Keiver asked if all of the courses must be completed or in a specific order, to which Willerth answered no, they are all stand-alone courses developed for certain school grades.
Deputy Reeve McGhee stated she also had kids who completed Junior Achievement courses.
After Willerth completed her presentation, councillors discussed the Junior Achievement program.
Reeve Wittstock asked if Kneehill County has funded this group in the past.
County Chief Administrative Officer Mike Haugen stated in the current year Kneehill County has budgeted $3,000 for the Junior Achievement program, and it has been funded in the past as well.
Wittstock noted that should pretty much cover the local programs compared to the figure Willerth gave of about $200 per program.
“I would say that’s $200 of well-spent money,” said Deputy Reeve McGhee in support of the program.
Penner added she also supports the program but hears that they have trouble finding volunteer speakers to help.
Coun. Ken King asked that since Kneehill County is currently funding the group, is the county being credited for its support, and also wondered if Willerth knows Kneehill County is currently funding the program.
CAO Haugen stated he will follow-up with Willerth to clarify those details. The presentation was accepted for information.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter