"JA volunteers inspire and prepare students to succeed in school and in life." -jaum.org

Students in Sleepy Eye have experienced the Junior Achievement (JA) program for 15 years or more. Perhaps the part of the JA program local people are most familiar with is the annual trip to BizTown by fifth or sixth grade students from St. Mary’s and Sleepy Eye Elementary schools.

JA BizTown is described on the Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest website (jaum.org) as a kid-sized simulated city, “where students become adults for a day. By working in one of 15 JA BizTown shops, students learn what it takes to run a successful business, manage a checking account and work as a team.”

But JA is much more than the visible BizTown program that Sleepy Eye youngsters have enjoyed for many years. The national JA organization states: Junior Achievement's programs—in the core content areas of work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy—ignite the spark in young people to experience and realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st century.”

A goal of JA is to help students make the connection between what they learn in school and how they can apply it in real life. JA programming is delivered by “real life” volunteer instructors who deliver the financial literacy programs that were created by professional curriculum development staff at JA USA.

In Sleepy Eye, JA volunteers come from a variety of businesses and include both retired and working people. The volunteers are provided with training and lesson plans and activities for the classroom. They generally provide five 30 to 45 minute lessons to their class, with the classroom teacher always there to offer any needed assistance.

Courses that Sleepy Eye students receive include:

•Kindergarten, JA Ourselves

•First grade, JA Our Families

•Second grade, JA Our Community

•Third grade, JA Our City

•Fourth grade, JA Our Region

•Fifth grade, JA Our Nation

•Eighth grade (St. Mary’s), JA Finance Park

•Seventh and eighth grade (SEHS), It’s my future

•12th grade (SEHS), JA Career Success.

Anyone interested in becoming a JA volunteer can contact Sara Wilfahrt, 507-382-0605, sara@jaum.org or find more information at jaum.org.