Woodland’s local Walmart awarded a $1,250 grant to help fund Woodland’s sixth graders’ annual field trip to Junior Achievement BizTown, a place where students put financial literacy and business skills to the test by “working” as customer service representatives, store managers and CEOs during a day-long visit to a simulated town.
Woodland’s Walmart partnered with Woodland Middle School after Robin Uhlenkott, a financial literacy teacher at the school, applied for a grant from the Walmart Foundation.
“Thanks to our local Walmart’s generosity, the grant will substantially reduce the cost to take our students to the valuable learning experience,” Uhlenkott said in a news release. “I truly appreciate how supportive Woodland’s local businesses have been of their local schools by funding educational opportunities like this.”
Following weeks of lessons in Uhlenkott’s class, sixth-graders visited Junior Achievment’s JA BizTown to practice their knowledge in a real world experiment. The JA BizTown uses an 8,500-square-foot replica of a city to create a one-day economic simulation. Students learn how to be a citizen, how an economy works, how to apply for a job and how to run a successful business.
“Last year was the first time we took students to BizTown and the experience was absolutely great,” Uhlenkott said in the release. “The kids loved it and really enjoyed using everything they learn in class in a practical way, plus the field trip gives us a framework to prepare and introduce new curriculum.”
Uhlenkott started teaching financial literacy as a part of the school’s personal finance and citizenship class, which started in2018.
“I’ve always enjoyed teaching personal finance as part of the social studies curriculum,” she said in the release. “This class was a perfect fit for me and prioritizes topics our students really need to learn to prepare for life after graduation.”
Topics for the class include learning the differences between debit and credit cards; how to balance a checkbook; studying how interest rates affect the cost of loans; the value of compounding interest and more.
In the class, students discussed the differences between credit and debit cards, including identifying which ones affect a holder’s credit score, which charge interest and how to track transactions depending on the type of payment used. Students also learned the risks of overdrafting a checking account and the different fees and fines charged by banks and credit companies.
With new technologies that enable payment by phone and over the internet, Uhlenkott believes students need to start learning about finances as soon as possible.
“Some parents aren’t comfortable talking with their children about how to take care of their finances, so learning how to manage a constantly changing economy can be extremely powerful for students,” she said in the release. “By learning about finance at a younger age, students will be better-prepared to manage their own finances when they graduate and begin their careers.”
The grant from Walmart helps alleviate a significant portion of the costs for the field trip experience.
“The Walmart Foundation’s generosity helps provide our students with a key learning experience that will help them ingrain their lessons for the rest of their lives,” Uhlenkott said in the release. “I am so grateful for our local Walmart’s willingness to give back to Woodland’s schools and helping our students learn financial literacy.”