By Katie Zeck
What do you get if you take 107 Trenton middle school students, 28 Rider students, 12 businesses and put them all together at one festival? Rider’s 17th annual Minding Our Business (MOB) Market Fair Day.
The community event, which is hosted through the course LDP 220, will take place on April 13 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at P.J. Hill School in Trenton. Market Fair Day is an event organized by Rider student mentors and the middle school students. Over the course of 14 after-school training sessions from February to April, the Trenton students split into teams and work collaboratively to develop a new business idea, prepare a business plan and formally present the plan to a board of business judges. The Rider students facilitate and provide feedback to the groups. The groups are provided with a start-up loan of $200 and have the next 13 weeks to execute their business. Market Fair Day is the unveiling of their businesses to the public.
Junior secondary education and business and marketing major Alex Lamon, a student in the LDP 220 course, which is titled “Minding Our Business,” has found this program to be beneficial a partnership between himself as a Rider student and the middle school students.
“I’m a business education major, so the [MOB program] was a great opportunity for me,” Lamon said. “The kids have done a lot so far leading up to Market Fair Day. To prepare, they have decided on their team name, what they will sell, what prices they will charge and if there will be any coupons or special deals.
The students have made promotional fliers and large posters that will be hanging at their table on Market Fair Day. They’ve been working on building relationships with each other, and most recently presented to a panel of business people to secure funding for their business idea.
Some of the businesses include lemonade stands, video game stations and hot dog stands.
According to Dr. Sigfredo Hernandez, associate professor of marketing, advertising and legal studies, founder of the MOB course and professor of LDP 220, the Rider students are as crucial to the program as the participating Trenton students.
“The Rider students are trained as team mentor-facilitators,” Hernandez said. “They guide groups of Trenton middle school students through the process of planning and running a business .”
Throughout the duration of the course, Rider students participate in a weekend training conference at the start of the semester. According to Hernandez, the students undergo 17 hours of intensive training and provide more than 21 hours of mentoring services. He added that the class “had positive long-term effects on mentors’ attitudes, intentions and behaviors involving their learning experience, career selection, career preparation, skill development and community service involvement.”
Hernandez has also found that the middle-schoolers benefit from the event from an academic standpoint.
“Students who have participated in MOB observe positive changes in self and improvement in leadership, communication, entrepreneurship and team skills,” Hernandez said. “MOB also improves self-esteem among participating students and in comparison to control groups. Research on academic records data indicates that participation in the MOB Spring Program reduces school absenteeism and tardiness.”
The program will also include a performance by Philadelphia-based blues band Lenny G & the Soul Senders, DJ Toots and The New Millennium Drill Team.
Lamon is most looking forward to witnessing the outcome of 13 weeks of hard work put in by the Trenton students.
“I’m excited to see the kids enjoying selling their business,” Lamon said. “I want them to see all their work paying off, as customers purchase our foods that we are selling. It’s all about the kids — we have them take ownership. My co-mentor and I facilitate, but we want the kids to see that this is their idea. Any accomplishments made are because of their efforts.”
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