Turning lemons into sweet rewards
Team effort earns Shake It Lemonade the Youth Entrepreneurs of the Year award
IRON MOUNTAIN — Four Iron Mountain students have been chosen as Dickinson County’s first Lemonade Day Youth Entrepreneurs of the Year.
The 2023 award winning team, Shake It Lemonade, consisted of Izzabella Geneva, Nora Hartwig, Maya Meno and Esperanza Martinez, who were fourth graders at North Elementary last year.
The Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce, along with its sponsors, partnered to bring Lemonade Day Dickinson to Iron Mountain on May 6. The free program is designed to introduce youth to money management and life skills by owning their own business — a lemonade stand.
The first event was a huge success, drawing about 100 local youth operating more than 30 lemonade stands across the community, said Suzanne Larson, executive director of the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce and city director of Dickinson County’s Lemonade Day.
“Our Lemonade Day was so much fun,” she said. “The local support we received was outstanding, from our sponsors to the public who came out to support these budding entrepreneurs — it was a fantastic day in Dickinson County.”
The Lemon Council traveled to each stand and met with students to discuss their findings. After reviewing many criteria, the council eventually decided upon a Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Loyal 2 Local.
Each member on the Shake It Lemonade team received a $100 Walmart gift card. They also moved on to the national contest.
Although Shake It Lemonade didn’t create their own recipe, they engaged their customers by adding fruit for flavor and color to the traditional Country Time original and pink lemonade. They also sold bags of popcorn and cheese cracker packets.
Shake It Lemonade donated half of their proceeds to the U.P. Honor Flight, as a way to show their appreciation to local veterans who have served our country and made an impact in the world.
“Children learn to spend some, save some and share some as they learn by going through the lesson modules. So, not only are we teaching our youth about owning their first business and financial literacy, but we are also showing them how to give back to their community through philanthropy,” Larson said. “Their hard work culminates in a city-wide Lemonade Day.”
Over the past 15 years, 1.5 million children have taken part since inception. The program has been licensed in more than 90 cities in the U.S. and Canada and has seen more than 550 youth-service partnerships. They have had more than 11,000 mentors assisting these entrepreneurs. Lemonade Day has also raised more than $24 million to date.
“The kids that are involved in Lemonade Day learn how to make a goal, set a plan and achieve their dreams,” Larson said.
Larson added it is proven children who receive business education are more willing to seek opportunities, are more persevering, have greater ability to speak in public and solve problems and adapt more easily to overcome challenges.
“That ‘I can do’ mentality is applied for the rest of one’s life,” she said.
The four girls say they would definitely do it again and encourages other students to take part in next year’s event.
Team mentors Jennifer Geneva and Betsy Hartwig said they had a great experience teaching the girls to be positive and to engage in the community.
“I think we made an impact on these girls to work together and to come up with an idea and succeed in accomplishing our goal that was at hand,” Geneva said.
Larson thanked all the sponsors, noting events don’t happen without their support. Signature Sponsors for Lemonade Day 2023 include Iron Mountain-Kingsford Community Federal Credit Union, First National Bank & Trust and Laborers’ Union Local 1329. “Fresh Squeeze” sponsors include First Bank, Great North Bank, Nicolet Bank, Northern Interstate Bank and U.P. State Credit Union. Other sponsors include American Legion Post 50, Advanta Print, Radio Results Network, Hometowne Lumber, Dickinson Area Community Foundation, LongRiders Motorcycle Club, Northpointe Behavioral Healthcare System, Imagination Factory Children’s Museum, 41 Lumber, Bay College, Kandy’s Cakes, Walmart, Loyal 2 Local, State Farm Jon Lasater Agency and WZMQ CBS TV 19 Marquette.
Larson said they will expand the 2024 Lemonade Day from just the Iron Mountain School District to Breitung Township Schools as well. Home-schooled kids are also encouraged to join in the fun, Larson added.
Details on next year’s program will be announced at a later date. For more information, contact Larson at the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce at 906-774-2002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.