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Farmers & Merchants sponsors student

New York Mills' Stephanie Carrlson recently received scholarship support from Farmers and Merchants State Bank of New York Mills to attend BestPrep's Minnesota Business Venture (MBV), a summer education program focused on career planning and financial literacy.

The program, which was held in partnership with the G.R. Herberger College of Business at St. Cloud State University and the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship at St. John's University, included 397 Minnesota high school students from 124 schools. The program focused on business components--starting a business, financial literacy, teamwork and collaboration. Today's teens and young adults now make up the largest segment of America's labor force.

"MBV was an amazing experience! I made lots of friends and it challenged me to stretch outside my comfort zone," said Carrlson.

Carrlson grew up in New York Mills. She has three older sisters and a younger brother. Her parents are Don and Sandi Carrlson.

At the end of camp she was one of thirteen students awarded a Breakthrough Award for personal growth and a strong work ethic. She has been invited back next year to act as a "CEO" for the week based on her strong leadership qualities.

Resident Business Leaders, who are local business professionals, served as mentors to the students throughout the program. These volunteers, from companies such as Ameriprise Financial Services, Cargill, Ecolab, Medtronic, RBC Global Asset Management, Securian Financial Group, TCF Bank and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, lived on campus for the week and guided a small "company" of students through the curriculum and interactive activities.

"Minnesota Business Venture is a unique opportunity for high school students to gain skills that will help them in their future. The interviewing, teamwork and communication skills developed during the week help students relate the educational content to the work world," said Andrea Hanson, Minnesota Business Venture Director.

While attending Minnesota Business Venture, students learned how to write a business plan, interview for a job and begin investing.

Carrlson and her group created a fictitious company called Power Pave. Their $1 million business loan was approved for the venture.

"It was a great experience to help me decide what I want to do in the future," Carrlson said.

Next year, she will be attending Alexandria Technical and Community College with career ambitions of being a loan officer or financial advisor.

Nearly 200 Minnesota entrepreneurs and executives volunteered to share their experiences and business prowess with the future workforce. Volunteer speakers came from many companies including: Allstate Insurance, Wells Fargo, the Minnesota Wild, Students Today Leaders Forever, College Nannies & Tutors, and Share Save Spend. Former NBA player Walter Bond provided a motivational keynote address.

BestPrep has offered Minnesota Business Venture for 30 years, and has more than 9,700 program alumni.

For more information about BestPrep, MBV 2010 or MBV 2011, please visit the website at or call 763-398-0090.