Young people in Whitley County have the opportunity to participate in a program that teaches them the recipe for entrepreneurial success.

Junior Achievement is encouraging young people to sign up for Lemonade Day on May 19, an experiential program that teaches them how to start, own and operate their own business – a lemonade stand. Participants learn how to create a budget, set profit-making goals, serve customers, repay investors and give back to the community.

Lemonade Day started in 2007 and has spread to more than 70 communities in 23 states and three countries, but this is the first year Whitley County will participate.

Local entrepreneur Jenny Reffitt is Whitley County’s Lemonade Day Champion. She and her husband own several businesses in the region, including yo2go and Sun Kiss Tanning in Columbia City.

Their entrepreneurial journey started about seven years ago when the couple decided to step away from their corporate jobs and start working for themselves.

Reffitt said owning your own business is a lot of work, but they’ve found flexibility and fulfillment in their new careers as entrepreneurs and haven’t looked back.

In her role as Champion, Reffitt will serve as a role model for young entrepreneurs. She wants to encourage young people to think outside the box when it comes to imagining their futures. There are other paths to success besides the traditional routes of going to college, joining the military or working for someone else, she said.

“You don’t have to have a degree per se to be a successful entrepreneur. You just have to have a good work ethic and dedication,” she said.

The curriculum for Lemonade Day is written to target youth in grades 3-5, but the material can be adapted for older and younger audiences, said program manager Stacey Dumbacher. Young people are also welcome to work together in teams, she said.

The first step for youth to get involved in Lemonade Day is to find an adult mentor.

“So that could be a parent, a neighbor, it could be some kind of coach who is interested in connecting with the students and helping them understand entrepreneurialism,” Reffitt said.

The next step is to register online and pick up materials at Whitley County Chamber of Commerce, Peabody Public Library, Churubusco Public Library or the South Whitley Public Library. Each child that registers receives a free backpack with an entrepreneur workbook or access to an online interactive program that includes lessons on running their own lemonade stand.

Then participants decide what they’re going to offer at their lemonade stand. The sky’s the limit for how creative kids can be with this, Dumbacher said. They might decide they want to sell popcorn or brownies or different flavors of lemonade, she said. They also decide how they want to design their lemonade stand.

There will be a lemonade stand workshop to share ideas on how to create a creative stand 2-3 p.m. April 14 at the Peabody Public Library.

On Lemonade Day, participants will set up their lemonade stands 10 a.m.-1 p.m. May 19 around downtown Columbia City. Participants have the chance to win prizes and to be selected as the “Young Entrepreneur of the Year.”

After the event, participants report sales. After covering their expenses and paying back their investors, they can keep what they earn. The program encourages them to spend some of their profits as a reward for their hard work, to save some of it for a rainy day or re-invest in their business, and to share some of their profits with a cause of their choice.

Adults in the community can support this program by buying glasses of lemonade and getting to know the young entrepreneurs at the event May 19. Before the event, community members are encouraged to mentor youth, serve as a guest speaker in schools, donate sponsor stands in front of their business, and participate in volunteer activities. For more information, contact Dumbacher at Stacey.dumbacher@ja.org or (260) 415-3422.