News

E-N-T-R-E-P-R-E-N-E-U-R

Can you spell “entrepreneur” without a dictionary or spellcheck?

E-N-T-R... Well, Lindsey Porter, Jolynn Jernigan and other students from South Kitsap High School may struggle spelling the word on the spot, but the definition shines through in their actions.

Porter and Jernigan earn money raising pigs. Each year they purchase small piglets for around $75, raise them for several months and sell them at auctions for anywhere from $700 to $800.

After getting paid, they take their money and deposit it at the student-run branch of the Kitsap Credit Union at South Kitsap High School.

Porter, Jernigan and the students working the Kitsap Credit Union caught the attention of television producers, who spent this week filming in Port Orchard for a new PBS program called “JA’s BizKid$.”

The program is produced in a partnership with Junior Acheivement Worldwide and underwritten by America’s Credit Unions. The Seattle-based production team includes producers that previously worked on “Bill Nye The Science Guy” and the Puget Sound-focused sketch comedy program “Almost Live.”

“JA’s BizKid$,” featuring some of the “Almost Live” cast, including John Keister and Pat Cashman, follows the same fusion style of education and entertainment as Bill Nye, focusing this time on financial literacy.

A BizKid, according to the show, is a youth working hard to earn money and making financially wise decisions to save and use that money.

The show features a cast of 10 official BizKids, including South Kitsap High School senior Kaelon Horst.

The actors engage in comedic skits and narrate the the stories of real-life BizKids.

One of the show’s three executive producers, Jim McKenna, said the show aims for three goals: teaching financial literacy, talking about employment and entrepreneurial opportunities and asking people how to spell “entrepreneur.”

McKenna said Kitsap County is filled with BizKids. In fact, with very little effort he found more BizKids than he could handle.

“A lot of kids think they can’t do it,” McKenna said. And when first pitching the program, McKenna said many people didn’t think the producers could find enough examples of kids in the real world making good financial decisions.

“It’s been the opposite,” McKenna said. “We’re seeing kid after kid. These kids are a lot smarter than their parents think they are.”

Wednesday morning McKenna filmed several BizKids at South Kitsap High School, where students participate in a unique business operation – an on-campus branch of the Kitsap Credit Union.

It’s the credit union, says Cathy Brorson, marketing specialist for Kitsap Credit Union, that initially grabbed the attention of the “JA’s BizKid$” production team.

Six students of South Kitsap High School operate the branch under the supervision of Debbie Young from Kitsap Credit Union. But the students bear most of the work load.

The students are pulled from the marketing classes taught by Steven Phillips. Phillips called the branch “the top gun of my program.”

“Our football team might not win the state championship, but we’ve got a credit union here,” Phillips said, adding that only the most capable students can do the job.

“There’s no room to be a student - you’re an adult,” he said.

The students had to apply for the job, from which they get school credit but no pay. They received the same training any other Kitsap Credit Union employee would.

Students have to treat it like a real job, Young said, because the branch operates just like any other Kitsap Credit Union branch, with security cameras, safes and all the rest.

“Anything you can do at this branch you can do at any of our branches,” Young said.

Senior Kylie Peterson, 18, said working at the bank isn’t much like a class.

“It’s more like a job in the middle of school,” Peterson said.

The students get all the experience of working at a real bank. As Phillips said, the consequences of making a mistake at the school’s bank are the same as at any other Kitsap Credit Union bank. The students are expected to perform as well as any other bank teller.

Ron Rogerson, Kitsap Credit Union’s senior vice president of marketing, said South Kitsap High School is one of just a handful of schools in Washington that offers on-campus credit unions.

“The objective is to educate these young adults in financial matters and give hands-on experience,” Rogerson said. “It’s very exciting for PBS to pick Kitsap Credit Union as the credit union featured on this series.”

It’s youth like these that McKenna features on “BizKid$” to teach the elementary and junior high-aged viewers that being financially literate is cool.

McKenna will use the story of South Kitsap’s student bankers in a show that teaches viewers “how money moves around the world via a series of transactions.”

McKenna hopes students watching the program will follow the example of these South Kitsap teens and think about their own finances.

Opening a savings account at a credit union is the first step, McKenna said.

“It’s safe, it’s their own and no one else can touch it — that’s really empowering to a kid,” McKenna said.

Jernigan and Porter take the money they earn selling pigs and deposit it straight into the bank at SKHS. They’re hoping to save up for cars and college.

“I like to save up my own money,” Jernigan said. She prefers working for her money instead of receiving an allowance from her parents. “I’d just rather save it myself and have more pride in myself.”

Kitsap Credit Union shares the same goal as the “BizKid$” producers. Brorson said education is part of the non-profit’s job. The bank makes no money off of the student-run banks located at South Kitsap High School and Bremerton High School, but they help raise a generation into financial responsibility.

Currently, Brorson said, the national savings average is at -0.5 percent. The only other time the U.S. national savings average fell below zero happened during the great depression.

Through the services offered by Kitsap Credit Union, and programs like “BizKid$,” Brorson hopes this next generation of kids will learn to pack away the dollars.

Even Brorson admitted she made poor financial decisions when she was younger, merely because she didn’t get educated on how to write checks, save money and pay bills. But after a while, she learned to work through the system.

“Financial literacy is a cool thing, and anybody can be a BizKid,” Brorson said.

The South Kitsap programs featured on “BizKid$” may get the students started on the right foot towards financial literacy, even if they have trouble spelling “entrepreneur.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 24 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates