Steamboat Springs Some students join the Future Business Leaders of America to boost college applications, while others enjoy the sense of competition. But Steamboat Springs High School students who join the team also receive a dose of real-world experience.
The team's faculty adviser, Julie Brownell, said whether presenting a business proposal or debating business ethics, students learn lessons they can carry throughout life.
"This is about speaking, interviewing, knowing ethics, professional business presentations and other life skills that will serve them well in college and beyond," Brownell said. She is in her third year advising the team, which gives high school students the opportunity to establish business skills and experience before graduation.
This year's team is showing strong signs of future success.
Of the 25 Steamboat students who competed at the district FBLA tournament, Feb. 3 and 4 in Grand Junction, 22 qualified for the state tournament, April 20 to 22 in Vail.
Sophomore Tom Lotz qualified for the state tournament with a first-place finish in the business ethics category, alongside sophomores Genna Bradley and Kelsey Butler.
"You are presented with a work situation, and you try to figure out as a team how to take care of the problem," Lotz said. "You tell the panel of judges what you would do."
Junior Jenn Peterson presented a business proposal with teammates Kelsey Pierson and Jasimine Alkema, about a scenario in which an American company plans to expand overseas.
"We made a presentation, including a PowerPoint presentation, on what you would need to know before you expand into Norway," said Peterson, who qualified for the state tournament with a first-place finish.
"I like FBLA because in high school, a lot of people don't know what they want to do or don't know if they want to go into the business world," she said. "It gives them a sense of what it will be like. Also, it's extra fun. Everyone in the club are friends."
Senior Taylor Miller-Freutel qualified for the state tournament with a first-place finish in job interviewing.
"It prepares me for both the business world and other important aspects when it comes to jobs or school," she said.
Peterson, who also plays lacrosse at the high school, said most of her classmates probably don't understand what happens at an FBLA tournament, but she stressed that her competitive streak emerges in the war of words.
"If you put that much work and effort into something and not hear your name called, it's not a good thing," she said.