Motivating Young Minds With an Entrepreneurial Spirit

Share this article

June 10, 2022

Lawrenceville, Georgia— You’re never too young to start thinking big! 

In fact, Rod Hames, a business teacher at Crews Middle School, is counting on it.

Georgia-Pacific employees and other local business professionals recently spent time with some bright students in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

GP employee Bob Berry volunteering

GP employee Bob Berry volunteering at Crews Middle School

The annual event brought together seventy-one students from Hames' class with forty professional mentors. The students had the chance to pitch their business ideas during one-on-one conversations and learn about real-life entrepreneurial concepts like project management, communication, and steps to turn their ideas into reality. They also received invaluable advice from people like Georgia-Pacific’s Bob Berry, senior category director, and Deborah Baker, retired vice president of sustainable forestry.

Georgia‐Pacific’s employee volunteer program is a network of current and retired employees who make a difference by volunteering for service projects and events in their communities.

Retired GP employee Deborah Baker

Retired GP employee Deborah Baker volunteering at Crews Middle School

“I was so impressed and glad to see an entrepreneurial program moving forward and see it in action and lastly, to be a part of it,” Baker said.

Hames knows the experience inspires his students and prepares them for a shark-tank-style classroom competition. As he puts it, “My purpose is to help students learn how they can add value to everything they do. My goal is to help them know their ‘why.’”

Following the event, one student said, “I learned that I could take the initiative and have all the resources needed to start my business right now and am very capable of doing so.”

Georgia-Pacific and its parent company, Koch Industries, support numerous programs to help young minds pursue their passions and develop their skills and talents.

“We speak of virtuous cycles of mutual benefit at Koch,” Berry says. “This program at Crews Middle School is a great example of that concept. These cycles begin when we develop capabilities that enable us to create value for others. We call these cycles virtuous because they benefit all parties, from yourself to society.”

Koch Industries supports the school through funding from a program called ’Empowered.’ Berry says, "Current employees, like me, and retired employees, like Deborah, find fulfillment in helping future entrepreneurs who one day may become employees at a Koch company, a supplier, or a customer.”

We know these students have what it takes to make their dreams come true.

The sky’s the limit!