Local partnerships increase business exposure for high school students

Last Tuesday, the entire Decorah High School 9th Grade class, about 160 students took a field trip up to Water Street to tour multiple local businesses. Each homeroom got to tour three businesses, one restaurant, one bank, and one retail store. The participating businesses were: Sugar Bowl, Viking State Bank, The Get Up, Cardboard Robot, Rubaiyat, and Decorah Bank and Trust. 
This field trip was made possible through the collaborative efforts between Decorah High School, Winneshiek County Development and Tourism, NICC, and local businesses. After a statewide push for more career readiness in high school students, work-based learning initiatives became a priority at the high school level. Pat Trewin, Decorah High School counselor stated, “The initiative, a key component of Decorah’s District Career and Academic Plan (DCAP), is a statewide requirement in Iowa designed to enhance students’ awareness of career options, foster exposure to workplace skills, and facilitate career readiness. This year, high school students were able to benefit from a diverse array of speakers, local business tours, and career exploration sessions.”
“It’s exciting to see students exploring new businesses in our downtown district. Positive experiences in business are crucial for our future workforce.” said event coordinator Maddie Putnam. During their visit to various businesses, the students were exposed to different aspects of running a small business and the employability skills required. At The Getup, they learned about the distinctive business model, which enables items to be brought in, repurchased, and resold through a code created by the owner’s husband. At Rubaiyat, they got a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant’s kitchen and how the owners, Kim and Andy, manage the restaurant during peak hours. At Sugar Bowl, the students learned how Nathan, the owner, prices the junior scoop and the factors that influence his decision. One student even got to scoop some ice cream and realized how challenging it is! At Viking State Bank & Trust, they visited the vault and discovered how to deal with debit card fraud and how to identify if their information is stolen. At Decorah Bank & Trust Co., they were introduced to the various careers available in a bank, including branding, marketing, and mortgage lending. At Cardboard Robot, they heard about the owner Eric’s journey of becoming a business owner, as well as the dos and don’ts of owning a business. Pat Trewin remarked, “The success of this event underscores the importance of such enriching opportunities for our students, and Decorah Schools is committed to continuing to expand them in the future.”