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Inspiring Young Minds and Leaving Lasting Impressions

Satchel filled with curriculum materials. Check. A silver dollar. Check. A positive attitude. Check.

These are some of the tools Ian Wickline, Stacie Lehman and Lad Drago use when they teach Junior Achievement (JA) courses.

"I remember an insurance agent teaching JA when I was in the 5th grade," says Ian, IT analyst. "It made an impression on me. This is my chance to give back, represent State Farm® and leave a lasting impression on the kids I teach."

Ian has been teaching JA courses to third-grade students in the same classroom and for the same teacher for 11 years.

"I explain to the class how a city works, and how and why a city is laid out the way it is," he says. "The students also learn about money, including information about checking and savings accounts, and how to open a business."

Junior Achievement USA provides financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship programs for K-12 students across the country. State Farm has been associated with JA for more than 20 years. JA volunteers teach the courses and share their personal work experiences in the classroom.

Ian, Stacie and Lad volunteer with JA for different reasons

Stacie currently teaches fourth graders how money moves around a community. "I show them different coins. Some of them have never seen a silver dollar or half-dollar coin since they aren't used much," she says. "To teach them about production, we have a factory where we make paper doughnuts and decorate them."

"I've been teaching JA courses to kindergarten, second-, third- and fourth-grade students for eight years," says Stacie, a State Farm P&C secretary. "I love working with kids because they soak in all of the new information and grasp the meaning. It's awesome to go week after week and see how they remember all the new things we talked about the previous week."

Lad, a State Farm agent in Spanish Fort, Alabama, recently taught his first class. "It was Economics for Success," says Lad. "I teach sixth graders about budgeting, taxes and the difference between gross and net income."

"I tell them what they save can equate to the type of car they drive or the home they live in," Lad continued. "One student exclaimed it wasn't fair how much taxes were taken out of a paycheck. I explained what that money was used for. He still thought it was unfair, but he understood it better."

"It's also not too early to talk to them about careers," he says.

"I have one girl who makes bracelets and sells them," says Ian. "I told her to take the principles she learns in the JA class and apply them to her small business. These classes allow kids to dream."

"I love it when kids recognize me in the store, and I get cards from them at the end of the session," says Stacie. "They are always happy and energetic. Oh, to be seven again!"

"I look forward to teaching the class. The kids make my day," says Lad. "I enjoy their energy and their worldly outlook. They give me high fives when I leave the classroom. That's the best."

JA recently presented State Farm the Bronze U.S. President's Volunteer Service Award.  The Award recognizes individuals' and organizations' significant time contribution to volunteer service.

State Farm associates volunteered more than 6,400 hours of financial education programs to students throughout the U.S. to earn the 2014 – 2015 award. State Farm has been involved in JA for more than 20 years.

"Junior Achievement helps empower young people to own their economic success. And they do it through volunteers from organizations like State Farm," said Ed Quijano, a State Farm assistant vice president who accepted the award.

"There's something about the process of inspiring kids to dream big and reach their potential that also helps to enrich the lives of the volunteers themselves. Everyone benefits from getting involved with JA."

Click here to find opportunities to serve with your local Junior Achievement.