Students from Whittier and Nisswa elementary schools in Brainerd enjoyed resort life Tuesday through a visit, as part of their Junior Achievement program, to Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge.
Nearly 125 students played Frisbee golf on the golf course and toured the resort. On the business side of things, students learned to fold napkins and carry trays in the dining room. For many though, the favorite activity, however, was the pontoon ride on Bay Lake.
"We saw a few loons and an eagle's nest in the trees (during the pontoon ride)," said Gina Engel, a Nisswa fourth-grader.
Diane Meyer, a physical education teacher at Whittier, along with her husband, Greg, organized the event. Greg is a Ruttger's employee and minister at Salem Lutheran Church in Deerwood.
The Meyers strongly support the Junior Achievement program and what it teaches students. They also think the end of the year field trip to Ruttger's is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn and have fun.
"We assume because we live (in the lakes area), everyone has been on a boat and done these things, but this is a first for some of the kids," Diane Meyer said. "We let the kids get off on Church Island because some of them have never been on an island before."
Junior Achievement program, which varies by grade level, includes five to 10 sessions with each session lasting up to one hour. It is an opportunity for business people in the community to teach students about the economy and the business world.
"Junior Achievement teaches kids what it takes to run a business," Diane Meyer said.
From kindergarten through high school, Junior Achievement teaches students interviewing skills, business resources and the value of a dollar.
"In the fourth grade, we teach students that businesses depend on each other," said Chris Ruttger, Ruttger's general manager and Junior Achievement volunteer.
One project for fifth-grade Junior Achievement students is working in an assembly line putting pens together. Through this exercise, they learn teamwork and how to depend on others.
"If one person slows down, everyone slows down and the company loses money," Greg Meyer said.
Ruttger's sponsored all of the activities and food for the students.
"The dining room treats (students) like resort guests. It's great for them," Greg Meyer said.
The Junior Achievement program provides resources for each Junior Achievement volunteer. A briefcase full of activities is provided. It's up to the volunteer to conduct the lessons and share their business experience and knowledge with the class.
Anyone can be a Junior Achievement volunteer.
"We've had someone from the Golden Kiwanis, a county worker and a person from Cellular 2000," said Nancy Bieganek, a fourth-grade Whittier teacher.
Bieganek's classes have been coming to Ruttger's for four years with the Junior Achievement program.
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