Student Today, Boss Tomorrow
Junior Achievement of Maine cultivates the business leaders of the future.
- By: Joshua F. Moore
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that we still have a thing or two to learn about free enterprise and how to keep businesses not only profitable, but also sustainable. Which makes the work of groups like Junior Achievement of Maine all the more important. Since 1965 this nonprofit has been tapping business leaders to serve as mentors to youngsters as young as kindergarten and as old as high school.
Each year nearly nine thousand Maine students learn how companies operate and what makes them successful by participating in job-shadowing programs, office and factory tours, and through in-class seminars. From Kittery to Calais and Fort Kent, students leave the Junior Achievement programs with a type of financial literacy and workforce readiness that they could never have gained through a textbook.
“Because so much of Maine’s economy is centered on small businesses, it is crucial for the state’s well-being that we give students the necessary knowledge to manage finances, ensuring a bright future not only for the state’s youth, but for its economy as well,” wrote Jamie St. Clair, vice chairman of the board of the Bangor region of Junior Achievement of Maine, in the Bangor Daily News. “Junior Achievement is a crucial link between the state’s students and its economy.”
The list of businesses participating in Junior Achievement of Maine — which is itself a chapter of a worldwide organization serving more than nine million students — reads like a who’s who of the Pine Tree State’s most successful corporations: Idexx, L.L. Bean, KeyBank. But even at these large companies, volunteers translate complex business practices into concepts young minds can understand.
Take John Kachmar, president of Wilbur Yachts in Southwest Harbor, who first experienced Junior Achievement as a junior at Cheverus High School. “ was my introduction to forming a business and lit a fire that inspired me to pursue a business degree, buy a small business, and complete a couple of start ups,” Kachmar says. “The insight I received in bringing a product to market gave me a basic understanding of how a business works and the multitude of areas that need to be addressed prior to selling your first product or service.”
Junior Achievement of Maine, Inc., 82 Elm St., Portland, 04101, 207-347-4333, maine.ja.org
- By: Joshua F. Moore