Many Chadron students aspire to business ownership

Nearly half of secondary students in the Chadron Public Schools say they are interested in owning a business in the future, according to a recent survey. The survey was completed by 244 or 57% of students in grades 7 through 12.

Underscoring a significant interest in entrepreneurship, 46% of the students said they are interested in business ownership and 51% said they would like to learn more about entrepreneurship through a class or hands-on experience. Among respondents, 17% said they own a business already. Their current business ventures include raising livestock, lawn care and making items such as baked goods, fishing lures and works of art.

The survey was conducted this spring during school hours, according to Craig Schroeder, president of the board of directors of the Heartland Center for Leadership Development. The Heartland Center sponsored the survey in collaboration with the Chadron school district, Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation and Rural Prosperity Nebraska, an initiative of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The survey is one of several activities in a rural community development project funded in part by USDA Rural Development.

Schroeder said the Chadron survey shows a higher interest in entrepreneurship than is typical of such surveys in most schools. He explained that students had their sights set on a variety of businesses, including farming and ranching, law, health care, auto mechanics, computer science, beauty care, trucking and trades, art and food service, among others. That is particularly promising, Schroeder said, since more than half of the students said they were likely to stay in the area after high school or return after attending college elsewhere.

Secondary students in all K-12 districts in Sioux, Dawes and Sheridan Counties were surveyed this spring. Results were released previously from the Hay Springs survey and will soon be available from the other schools in the region. To ensure a high level of student responses to the Chadron survey, Schroeder said he was particularly thankful for the cooperation provided by Supt. Ginger Meyer and teachers in the Chadron Public Schools.

As a specialist on rural youth engagement, Schroeder has conducted similar surveys with more than 40,000 teenagers throughout the United States. Schroeder grew up in a small town in Nebraska and has worked in rural community development for over 30 years.

Kerri Rempp, NW Nebraska Tourism

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