CEO prepares for upcoming year

Published 11:32 am Saturday, May 26, 2018

On Friday, Austin and Pacelli high school students headed for participation in the first-ever CEO program in Austin were able to meet many of the people making the program possible.

A total of 19 students will join the program in the fall, and on Friday they met several investors who are funneling operational dollars into the program.

The program was adopted to provide real-life learning  in entrepreneurial business,

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Each student will be matched with a mentor and students will meet for one hour before school, every day at one of four home bases chosen throughout the year.

Students will also be traveling to on-site visits. Wit h business people. Students will eventually establish their own businesses.

Mower County CEO facilitator Emily Hovland, right, updates a group of investors about the progress of establishing the Mower County CEO program for the upcoming year. At back left is one of the participating students, Nyachan Gash. Deb Nicklay/

Each of the investors have committed to $1,000 in each of three years the program is being held. To date, there are 45 investors, said Dale Wicks, from Quality Pork Processors, one of the speakers. The Hormel Foundation donated $25,000 needed to establish the program through the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, the originator of the program.

During the meeting, the Austin Rotary Club presented a check to the program for $5,526, raised at a trivia night hosted by the Rotary.

Students, said Austin High School Principal Andrea Malo, “are excited” about their year. About half are juniors, while the other half are seniors.

“And I think overall, they are a really good representation of our students,” she said.

Mower CEO Board member Jeff Baldus, who was filling in for Tim Fritz, who helped initate the program, told students there is a hope that the experience helps provide them with a strong connection to the community.

“My hope is that they’ll remember lessons learned (after college) and appreciate those things offered right here,” he said.

Emily Hovland, the facilitator of the group, said the students are excited and ready to go.

“They are getting an experience as unique as we’ve seen in Austin.”

Austin High School student Nick Dunlap, said he was excited to be a part of a program that might help him establish his own business some day.

“This will definitely help me with that,” he said.

Kristine Wilke, of K and K Fabrication, Inc., one of the investors, said “any leadership program for youth is so important in making career choices, education choices, in setting your life.”

She added that she did not hesitate to get involved.

“I think student involvement in programs like this helps build future leaders that all business needs.”

Students who are members of the first class are:

Trevor Baldus, Thomas Bergland, Gwyneth Cortez, Collin Coyle, Nick Dunlap, Ryan Flanders, Nyachan Gash, Claire Heichel, Morgan Hose, Leila Lopez, Ray Lucero, Rachel Nelsen, Geovanna Sandoval, Samantha Sheldon, Holly Stromlund, Jasmine Valladares, Leann Valle, Kiejuana Vanzant, and Alondara Vega Vega.