A day in our shoes

BizTown volunteers

CHS Country Operations employees helped develop and train tomorrow’s leaders through a volunteer opportunity where students became adults for a day.

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, nine employees from Country Operations volunteered at Junior Achievement BizTown in Maplewood, Minn. JA BizTown is a 10,000 square foot kid-sized city. More than 13,000 students from elementary and middle schools across the Twin Cities visit JA BizTown each year. After researching different jobs in class, the students spend a day at JA BizTown putting that learning into action. JA BizTown is a fully-interactive simulated free market lab where students become part of a workforce, recreating everything from mail delivery to banking.”

“Volunteering with BizTown was a very rewarding experience,” said Will Buckley, mergers and acquisitions, Country Operations. “We spent the day helping sixth graders develop the skills it takes to become successful, working adults. It was inspiring to see how enthusiastic and creative the children could be when it came to problem solving.”

The facility houses 14 fully operating businesses and 25 to 30 adult volunteers are needed for each day-long session. Buckley learned of the program through employees whose children had attended in the past. Finding that the program always needs adult volunteers, Buckley organized a team of Country Operations volunteers, using the additional Days of Service volunteer hours CHS provided to employees this year. CHS donated $1,000 towards the program and Country Operations employees plan to go back this spring to volunteer again.

Country Operations volunteers were Alicia Brown, Kevin Birkle, Will Buckley, Lindsie Herzog, Anna Hostrawser, Michael Hubley, Charley Kubler, Laurie Lenertz and James MacMahon.

“My own kids had the opportunity to experience BizTown years ago and I was not able to volunteer at that time, so I’m paying it back,” says Alicia Brown, environmental compliance, Country Operations.

She supervised the International Shop where students learned about sales strategy and how a day in the life of the economy works.

“One of our salespeople got frustrated by the lack of sales in the shop,” Brown said. “She was sitting on a stool with her head on the counter saying how bored she was. It was a good learning opportunity to explain to her that people won’t want to come in and shop if she doesn’t look more excited to be there. Plus, sales are tough, so we had to reorganize the display case to entice people in.”

Buckley knew it would be a great experience helping children learn new skills but he was surprised at how much he learned too.

“What I did not anticipate was how much the day helped our own professional development,” he said. “We had to rely on effective communication, time management, and delegation of tasks, skills needed not only when volunteering at BizTown but in our daily work lives too.”

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