High School Students Showcase Their Skills at the 'Best Week of Summer'

August 12, 2022 | Successful Succession: Considering the ESOP Jessi McQuerrey, Director of Programs, ABI Foundation, jmcquerrey@iowaabi.org

A wristband that detects high stress levels and suggests personalized coping mechanisms. A rentable entertainment trailer that creates the perfect arcade, movie or karaoke night. A scheduling app that not only manages your schedule and to-dos, but also provides you with nearby opportunities to de-stress.

These are just a few of the creative business ventures that this year’s participants developed in five short days at Business Horizons. When our talented Iowa students come together to solve a problem – there is no shortage of solutions.

More than 50 students representing 40 high schools across Iowa (and a few beyond our borders) joined together at Central College last month. Students were divided into teams and tasked to identify a solution to a problem facing high school students. The issues of mental health and stress were the top themes among all teams this year, however how they chose to tackle these issues varied from products, services, apps, or a combination of these. 

The teams worked together to prepare investor presentations, trade show materials, and infomercials which can be viewed at www.youtube.com/BusinessHorizons. Top honors for “Best Product” went to “XR-cise,” an app that tracks your physical activity and turns it into a variety of online games with friends to encourage physical and mental wellness.

“Business Horizons is a program that gives you so many opportunities. You listen to amazing speakers, meet new people and just have the best week of summer. It made me realize that being a part of different programs like this allows me to learn about who I am and what I want to do in the future.” – Breckin Downey, Maquoketa High School

The week included a variety of workshops on topics like Design Thinking, agile/scrum project management, the business model canvas, economics basics and more. More than 70 volunteers contributed to the week’s success in a variety of roles from advisors and investor judges, to entrepreneurs and HR experts.

Students were joined by speakers such as Jeff Reed (Bizlab), Dawn Bowlus (Jacobson Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship), Alex Taylor (Iowa Startup  Accelerator/Woofables), Shawn FitzGerald (Studio Iowa), ssculptor and poet David Williamson, Taufeek Shah (Lola’s Fine Hot Sauce), and Adam Carroll (National Financial Educators).

“Business Horizons is the perfect place to improve so many different skills – communication, collaboration, time management and planning are all so important in the real world. This experience made me look further ahead to my future with more of a purpose.” – Briela Mendez, Norwalk High School

Business Horizons provides a space for students to be their true selves, step outside of their comfort zone, and demonstrate their teamwork and leadership skills on a different level. If this one week was any indication – our future is in great hands.

If you know a student (grade 9-12) who should attend Business Horizons next summer, feel free to nominate them online at www.BusinessHorizonsIowa.com.

“Business Horizons has opened a door into learning about business that I don’t intend to close. I would recommend that every high schooler attend Business Horizons.” – Drake Riddle, Clarinda High School