March 4, 2019 11:49 pm

Otter Products volunteers Paola Sera, Valerie Mireles and Stephanie Alas

Last week at the Otter Products headquarters in Fort Collins, a group of teenagers twirled green pipe cleaners into each other’s hair, explaining to their class the benefits and ease of their new “product” – a multifunctional hair accessory. Fashioning pipe cleaners into a product and presenting an advertisement wasn’t simply for amusement, though. Behind the Junior Achievement (JA) Be Entrepreneurial activities are essential lessons for students and their future careers. High school students from across the Front Range learned the fundamentals of a practical business plan, including advertising, competitive advantages, financing and product development, thanks to the Otter Products closed2open partnership with JA.

Closed2open is a project which encourages Otter Products employees to volunteer in their communities by closing all offices for a day. Most Colorado Otter Products volunteers traveled to classrooms in the area to teach JA, while a few hosted a group of lucky high school students onsite at their downtown office for JA Be Entrepreneurial.

Volunteers helped students become career-ready by discussing their own professional challenges and successes, introducing elements of successful entrepreneurship, and facilitating real-life activities that students can take into their futures.  

“I think that hands-on activities are the best way to learn, making us get up and move around,” said Andrew Littlefield, a student from Prairie High School. “I really think that Junior Achievement and these volunteers have done a great job with keeping us engaged. Kids get a lot more out of learning if it’s more fun and interactive. It makes it more memorable too.”

Lessons from JA Be Entrepreneurial can benefit all students, not just those who pursue careers in business, explained Damon Holt, a seasoned JA volunteer with Otter Products.

Damon Holt teaching Poudre High School students

“Today we’re learning about entrepreneurship, but think about your college – why are you going to where you’re going to go? Or, what is your next step if you’re going to do something different? They’re attracted to those questions, and there’s a need for it. They can absorb it and they can relate to it because it’s applicable to where they are in life,” Holt said.

“We want them to think about entrepreneurship in their next step in life, asking themselves how they can go about it, if it’s something they’re passionate about, or if there’s a need in the industry,” said Holt. “We’re trying to leave them with the idea that there isn’t one right or wrong way.”

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