I'm pleased to post this guest blog from the Paris MO FBLA chapter. They recently attended the National Leadership Conference in San Antonio, TX and made their school proud! The story is a little long but well worth the read.
By Rae Graupman and Josh Ebbesmeyer
There are roughly 314,000,000 people in the United States, and 100% of those people with jobs, have business related jobs. Try and think of one that isn’t somehow tied back to a business at some point. There are none. This is why we believe that FBLA is so important. FBLA stands for Future Business Leaders of America. There are thousands of high school, junior high, and college students all across the country that are a part of this great organization.
Over 8,000 of the brightest students in this organization attended the 2012 National Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas, from June 28 to July 2. Six of those students were the students from our home town of Paris, Missouri. Along with my co-author Josh Ebbesmeyer, I (Rae Graupman), Katie Otto, Teddy Ebbesmeyer, Paul Turner, and Danielle Wheelan attended this Conference.
Josh, Katie, Teddy, and Danielle were part of a performance event called Emerging Business Issues (shortened to EBI). They got their “issue” ahead of time. Their contest consisted of being familiar with, and writing an argument for the business issue. They have to have a positive argument, or a pro, along with a negative argument, or a con. The performance comes in when they give one of the sides of the issue to a panel of judges, in five minutes or less. That is followed by three minutes of questions. The team received second at the state level and was very excited to move on and compete at the national level. EBI can only have three members on a team at the most. Danielle Wheelan was the original third member, but since she was unable to make it to perform at the preliminary due to traveling, Josh was put on the team as a replacement.
As for me, I was competing in an event called Client Service. My event was a role play event. In this event you are given a customer service scenario ten minutes prior to your performance. You are allowed two note cards to write down anything you need to about the case. When your ten minutes are up, you interact with a panel of judges as if they are the customer and you are the store or organization representative. You must be prepared to make the customer happy without exceeding the boundaries that may be stated in the case.
On the first day of the conference both teams presented and waited to find out who made it past the preliminary round, but before we competed, we had the opportunity to campaign for the North Central Region Vice President candidate from Gallatin, Missouri, Bailey Morrison. All the candidates running for an FBLA National Office, along with many sponsors and promotional booths were set up in the Campaigning Hall. We worked for Bailey by assisting in running her booth and encouraging the North Central Region of America to vote for her. While she might have been the only one running, she needed a majority vote to be elected to office. Other candidates had booths to encourage students to vote for them in their races as well. The March of Dimes, an organization that helps prevent premature birth and supports premature babies, with whom FBLA has worked hand and hand with for many years, had a booth to raise money for the organization. Other booths consisted of promotional schools, products, and to help guide students to a successful career. Along with the Campaigning, we attended the opening session for the convention and our group got to sit up with the executives of FBLA. Danielle’s mother, Sidney Wheelan an attorney for Tatlow, Gump, Faiella, and Wheelan , LLC of Moberly, Missouri, was selected as Missouri’s Business Person of the Year! This allowed us to sit close so we could watch her as she was recognized for her great accomplishments.
Along with competing and attending all the FBLA events, our group of students, adviser Mrs. Mason and her husband Chuck, and the families experienced the City of San Antonio. Our hotel was on the Riverwalk and had a great view of the city. We toured the Alamo, walked the Riverwalk, and shopped at its various venders. Also we took the Riverwalk boat tour. The tour took you down the river, explained its history, and showed us all the amazing sights and places along the river. Like the La Mansión hotel, created for the HemisFair that made the river a popular venue to entrepreneurs in 1968. We also ate at some of the most amazing restaurants. We ate at the ever famous Hard Rock Café, Rita’s on the River, Tony Romas (famous for their ribs), and in the Riverwalk River Center Food Court. While in our hotel, we enjoyed activities like swimming, meeting various FBLA members from all across the country, and stalking the FBLA posting site, to see if our groups made it the finals.
After the results were posted, both teams found out that we made the finals! Our third morning in Texas I was sequestered at 8:00, and competed at 10:55. The EBI team was sequestered at 1:00 and performed at 2:00. Once we were finished all we could do was wait for the next evening and the closing session to find out how we did in our events.
During the convention we attended the North Central region meeting. During the meeting there were awards given out for the largest chapter, largest state membership, and the completion of the Business Achievement Awards. Paul Turner and Josh Ebbesmeyer were awarded with their certificate for completing the America level of the BAA awards. There are four levels, Future, Business, Leader, and America. Completing the BAA awards is a major accomplishment for FBLA members, and is not an easy task. You have to complete a variety of different tasks that pertain to business, leadership roles, striving for the future of FBLA, and community involvement. These tasks range from projects as simple as 100 word summaries of some of your experiences in FBLA, to completing intricate and specific electronic portfolios. Josh and Paul had been working on their BAA awards since they were in the ninth grade, and have worked very hard to complete all of the levels of the BAA awards.
During the closing session, the top ten winners were called on stage to receive their awards. In alphabetical order they go through the events, meaning Client Service is one of the first. Everyone was nervous to find out how we did. When my name was called to go up on stage I was so excited. Once on stage they started at ten, and named off winners all the way to one. Once third place was read and it was not me, it was extremely exciting. First and second place are huge accomplishments. I received second place in Client Service and received $500 in award money donated by KPMG. My adviser, along with everyone was very excited for my accomplishments.
Soon after Client Service, Emerging Business Issues was next to be called. We listened closely to find out if our team made the top ten, but unfortunately, they did not make it on stage. Everyone was still extremely proud. It’s not easy to be the top twelve in the nation and all our hard work had paid off.
For all our accomplishments we went out to have a celebration dinner at Tony Romas. We all had an amazing time at the NLC, and it was a great opportunity for all of us. It has helped us grow as individuals and business leaders. However, there is no way we would be able to accomplish all of these things without a great and superior role model. Our chapter adviser has helped us grow as responsible high school students and business people. We could never thank her enough for all the time and effort she puts into our organization and us as individuals. While these few sentences cannot express how greatly appreciated Mrs. Mason is to all of us, we got her a couple gifts and presented them to her at our celebration dinner.
After the dinner we went back to the hotel and relaxed.
The next morning some of us boarded a plane back to Missouri, and some began a long 14 hour drive home. We will never forget the 2012 National Leadership Conference, and how much we will benefit from this outstanding organization that makes all of these outstanding opportunities possible. FBLA prepares us for leading and business achievements in life. After all, every student will become a member of the 100% of people with a business-related job.