CHICAGO – Elmwood-Murdock business students collected big achievements during their trip to one of the biggest cities in the nation this summer.
Elmwood-Murdock Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) members traveled to Chicago this month for the FBLA National Leadership Conference. Nineteen students qualified for national contests and 18 were able to participate in the conference.
Elmwood-Murdock FBLA Advisor Laura Rikli said she was thrilled to have a large number of Knights represent the school in Chicago. More than 12,000 FBLA students from 48 states and several US territories and international chapters attended the conference. There were approximately 360 students, advisors and guests from Nebraska.
“We had one of our most successful finishes at the state conference this spring,” Rikli said. “We haven’t had this many students (19) qualify for nationals in several years, so it was exciting to see all of their hard work pay off.”
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Rikli said the Knights were happy to attend educational sessions with business leaders and take part in competitive events. They also elected a national student officer team and were able to enjoy in-person conversations with students from across the country. Rikli said everyone learned many personal and professional lessons from the trip.
“All of these students except for a handful of seniors had never experienced an in-person state or national conference during high school due to Covid canceling these events the past two years,” Rikli said. “Most of them did not know what to expect from state or nationals. They didn’t realize how tough the competition was or how many students are involved with FBLA statewide.
“It was a big eye opener to them to see how important it is to start their projects early on and to put in the time to make their projects stand out from other chapters across the state.”
Lexi Bacon, Bailey Frahm, Sela Rikli, Nate Lockman, Jaxson Spellman, Henry Coleman, Rylan Kastens, Riley Wilson, Sam Clements, Nate Rust, Haylee Josoff, Jordan Vogler, Cassidy Callaway, Ella Zierott, Tatum Backemeyer, Laney Frahm, Bri Ross and Madie Justesen competed in Chicago. Reid Fletcher qualified for two national events but was unable to compete due to a family emergency.
Bacon, Rikli and Bailey Frahm took part in the Partnership with Business Project category, Lockman participated in the Electronic Career Portfolio contest and Spellman competed in the Organizational Leadership event. Coleman joined Kastens for the Local Chapter Annual Business Report contest and Wilson for the E-Business contest.
Clements, Kastens and Rust participated in the Sales Presentation contest, and Zierott, Backemeyer and Laney Frahm appeared in the Community Service Project division. Justesen and Ross teamed up for the Website Design category, and Callaway competed in the Computer Applications contest at the conference.
Josoff, Vogler and Callaway highlighted Elmwood-Murdock’s trip by advancing to the final round of the American Enterprise Project contest. The three Knights became one of only 12 teams to qualify for the finals. There were 100 teams that took part in the preliminaries of the event.
“They were very excited when they found out they made finals,” Rikli said. “They were very confident with how well they did in their prelims, so they had a good feeling about making the finals. Again, none of these three had ever been to an in-person state or national conference prior to this year, so they were very surprised to see how much competition there was and how many students there were.”
Rikli said she was proud of Josoff, Vogler and Callaway for their hard work at the conference. The three Knights gave their initial presentation in front of judges before appearing in front of a larger audience in the finals. They had only done virtual contests until this year.
“Prior to this year they had never had the experience of giving a presentation in front of live judges, so that was a first experience for them,” Rikli said. “At nationals, if you make finals, you also have to present in front of a crowd (approximately 30 to 40), so they had the added experience of presenting to more than just judges for their final round, which made them a little extra nervous!”
Teams from California, Washington, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Maryland, Illinois, Arkansas and Wisconsin finished in the top ten places of the American Enterprise Project contest. Elmwood-Murdock captured either 11th or 12th place in the national rankings, but judges did not let the Knights know which number they received.
Rikli said Elmwood-Murdock also enjoyed success from a chapter-wide standpoint. Students were recognized for their work throughout the 2021-22 school year.
“The Elmwood-Murdock chapter also earned two prestigious national awards,” Rikli said. “These include the Champion Chapter and the Gold Seal Chapter Award of Merit.”
Students who earned the Champion Chapter honorarium had to complete a series of membership engagement-focused challenges during the school year. Elmwood-Murdock members scored points by taking part in activities in Summer Starter, Shaping Success, Service Season and CTE Celebration categories.
The Gold Seal Chapter Award of Merit recognizes students who participate in state and national events. Elmwood-Murdock chapter members also had to promote FBLA activities in the community and speak with owners of local businesses to earn the award.