EDISON, NJ — Fifth graders from Riker Hill and Mt. Pleasant Elementary Schools in Livingston recently visited Junior Achievement’s BizTown to experience a day in the workforce.

Dawn Schwartz, a Livingston resident and the senior vice president of development and communications for Junior Achievement of New Jersey, said it was thrilling to see “the young people of [her] community participate in BizTown,” including her son, Nathan.

“I’ve been working for the Junior Achievement mission between the New York and New Jersey operations for nearly 20 years,” said Schwartz. “To see my own child role play in BizTown, gaining the critical life skills that Junior Achievement teaches, was beyond rewarding.”

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Founded in 1919, Junior Achievement’s mission is to “inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy,” according to its website. Schools statewide are invited to participate at no cost to them in all of Junior Achievement’s programming.

During the field trip to BizTown, a fictional municipality that is simulated for students in grades 4-6, a “mayor” is sworn in and kicks off the first of two Town Hall meetings. This year, Livingston Mayor Al Anthony had the honor of swearing in Riker Hill’s BizTown Mayor Remi Paige.

The students then simulate working in various positions in health care, logistics, utility companies, retail stores, banks and a restaurant. They also write checks and vote to pass a new law—all skills that they have been learning about in class.

Prior to their field trip to BizTown, students learn about:

  • How to open a bank account;
  • How to write, endorse and deposit checks while recording those activities;
  • How to deposit money into a savings account while also learning about money earning interest;
  • The difference between debit and credit cards;
  • The flow of goods, services and resources;
  • Personal vs. business taxes; and
  • Why entities such as libraries, schools, roads, fire stations, police stations, etc. are funded by the government.

During preparations, students also participate in an activity that demonstrates free enterprise and learn how to produce goods and services. In addition, the students discuss how interests and skills are factors in determining which career a person should pursue as well as why some careers are more viable than others and how science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills are essential to many careers.

Preparation also includes an activity where students “apply for a job” and are interviewed for it. They then learn the costs of the businesses they want to open/run; set prices for goods and services and observe the relationship between price, revenue and profit; and begin to advertise/market their businesses.

Following their field trip to BizTown, the students discuss what they experienced and how their education in school relates to their future careers.

“Today I learned that I can actually get a lot of stuff done,” said Avery. “Pretending to be an adult in BizTown was really fun and educational, too.”

“Pretending to be an adult made me realize that my parents have to do this every day and it is hard, so I have much more respect and appreciation for them,” said an anonymous classmate.

Another student, Rafi, said he is “a good worker when [he has] a plan” and felt that the event was a success overall.

“The most successful part of my day was the first town meeting,” said Remi. “I learned that I can speak in front of a lot of people without hesitating too much.”

“Today, I learned that it is hard to organize, but working in a business helped me learn the best way to start organizing,” said Sydney. “It was sort of fun being an adult, but very chaotic.”

Each year, Junior Achievement’s more than 470,000 volunteers serve more than 10-million students in 100-plus countries. Click HERE to learn more about Junior Achievement and BizTown.