Through the generosity of the Eureka! Ranch and help from the Mariemont School Foundation, Madeline Falknor and Kyle Howe were selected to attend Eureka! Ranch’s Innovation College – an interactive weeklong professional program that has never before been available to students.
“I’ve always been interested in the business field for college, and I knew this would be a good experience for me, but it seemed like it wouldn’t be for me – you know, someone so young without real business experience,” said Kyle. “Walking into it, the second I sat down, the person next to me said he was the president of a massive fishing company. Everybody is a president of his or her own company and here I am with no experience. It turns out, as we progressed through the course, age didn’t matter. Madeline and I still bonded and learned with people who have had years of business experience. And I think we brought a different perspective, being younger.”
Their class of approximately 35 people also included global company leaders, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and government change agents, all of who worked on teams together.
The goal of Innovation College is to teach people how to innovate in today’s world with an innovation mindset and ability. At Innovation College each person is charged with learning a completely new field of study called Innovation Engineering, which is a joint venture between Eureka! Ranch and the University of Maine. Typically Innovation Engineering is taught on over 20 college campuses across the country as a minor or graduate certificate program.
“They give you a real business scenario and ask you to generate ideas or solve a problem, but in a creative way as a team. The creative process they taught us made us think differently than anyone else would. It was inspiring,” said Madeline. “Having the tools to solve my own problems, whether for a college project or a company, is extremely helpful. The week at Eureka! Ranch was unlike any classroom experience that I’ve had. I feel like I learned so much and it was fun learning.”
In 2015, Madeline founded her own company, madeline & company, which focuses on creating stylish yet functional bags. She is currently a freshman at Miami University, majoring in marketing and minoring in entrepreneurship.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the Foundation for giving us this experience. I don’t even know what to say,” said Madeline. “Other students would love this, even if they don’t have their own business – the information is helpful in the classroom, too. It changes the way you think about things.”
Kyle is currently a senior at Mariemont High School. He and a couple of classmates launched the Queen City Select card as a DECA project last school year. For his business, he collaborates with local businesses to give a financial discount of 10% on their products or services to Queen City Select cardholders. The proceeds go to the Mariemont High School DECA program.
“I’ll take what I’ve learned with me for the rest of my life. Attending this program was the best decision I have made in my high school career,” said Kyle. “Their system of teaching was so effective, and I think being high school students almost put us at an advantage because we’re used to thinking outside the box and working in teams. I would love to do it again. And if anyone is interested in applying, I would tell them to go for it – you’ll learn more than you ever thought you could.”