Partnering with a Niagara business was the cherry on top of a fruitful experiential learning exercise for local high school students.
Grade 11 students, who are taking marketing classes at the District School Board of Niagara’s (DSBN) A.N. Myer Secondary School and Thorold Secondary School, were tasked with developing a marketing and promotions plan to increase awareness of 20 Valley Harvest Farms’ pick your own cherries program in Jordan, Ont.
Staff and students from Brock’s Goodman School of Business met with the high school students throughout the semester to help them prepare to pitch their plans. The top four teams presented their recommendations at the University Thursday, May 24, sharing their ideas with a room full of their peers, a representative from 20 Valley Harvest Farms and Brock staff.
For 16-year-old Olivia Cotte, the experience has led to some important takeaways that will assist her on the road to pursuing post-secondary studies in marketing in a few years.
“I learned a lot about presenting to a large group from the Brock staff and students that met with us,” said the A.N. Myer student. “It was great to apply our learning to a company that actually exists.”
The presentations offered 20 Valley Harvest Farms Manager Paula Bryk a new point of view on the business.
“It’s great to have a youth perspective, especially when it comes to marketing to youth and using social media,” she said. “It also saves me time, which as a business owner can be a big limitation. To have students do research and come up with specific recommendations is very helpful.”
Bryk was impressed with the maturity and commitment that the students and University brought to the project.
“The students are professional and fun, and they come up with creative suggestions,” she said. “Similarly, in terms of Brock staff, they have also been professional and very helpful.”
While engaging high school students in an experiential education exercise offers an early introduction to Brock’s campus, it also showcases skills the University can help them to develop.
“I really see this as an opportunity for us to connect on a deeper level,” said Patricia Bernardo, Recruitment Co-ordinator at Brock’s Goodman School of Business. “It’s not just learning about our programs, but it’s actually providing them with take-home skills right now. We see this as a university preparation opportunity. The project promotes business and shows students how it applies in the real world, and they see that a university education is within their grasp.”
It was Cotte’s group who ultimately won the competition with a pitch that featured cost-effective events and increased social media presence.
“We were surprised we won because everyone had such great ideas,” she said. “We are really happy to know all the work we did paid off and that it will be used in real life. The whole exercise makes university seem a little less intimidating.”
Making students feel at home on campus and prepared for the next step in their educational journey was exactly what Bernardo and Goodman’s Experiential Education Co-ordinator David DiPietro hoped to accomplish through the exercise.
“We want them to have early exposure to experiential learning and to see how advanced and beneficial Brock’s opportunities are,” said DiPietro. “Strengthening Brock’s relationships with local school boards like the DSBN helps more students to accomplish this.”
For Bryk, the entire experience was encouraging.
“I can see that both the students and the University genuinely have my business’ best interest in mind and I really appreciate that,” she said.