Union County CEO students visited Davis Pastry in downtown Anna. The students are displaying some of Davis Pastry’s famous pink cookies. In the first row are Kyle Hall, Luke Lasley, Hunter Boyd and Camden Hodges. In the second row are Madi Hawk, Peyton Lingle, Abigail Dahmer, Olivia Brumleve, Kirstin Guardian, co-owner Brooke Bigler O’Reilly, Abby Remsey and Natalee Brown.  On a recent frosty morning, Noah and David Prater hosted the CEO team at Heartland Lumber in Anna. Examples of Heartland Lumber’s products can be seen on the business’s Facebook page. Photo provided.

CEO program welcomes applications for 2022-2023

The Union County CEO Program is accepting applications from juniors and sophomores at Union County high schools who are interested in participating in the 2022-2023 CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) program. 

The digital application process opened Jan. 24 and is scheduled to close Feb. 4. Student references will be due Feb. 11.  

All personal and school information is redacted from each application so that the selection committee remains unbiased. 

Last year, 20 students applied; 13 juniors and two sophomores were accepted from Cobden, Dongola and Anna-Jonesboro high schools.

The CEO program is an accredited, year-long, 2 credit class designed to get students out into their community and equip them with business knowledge and leadership skills.

CEO is not held in the classroom. Instead, students meet each day at 7:30 a.m. at local businesses. They learn about the inner workings of companies and hear from business and community leaders.  

They also gain information about local communities which gives them a greater appreciation for the area.

Those who participate in CEO learn professional business concepts, are paired with a mentor in the community, and, from start to finish, set up their own, functioning side hustle business.

But it’s not just about starting a business. Students learn about professionalism and essential life skills in communication and time management, for example. They explore career opportunities and are encouraged to develop relationships with community leaders.

Students of all skill sets and backgrounds have the opportunity to be successful in this class, provided they are hard-working, trustworthy and willing to take on an exciting challenge.

“I would recommend the CEO class to other students because it will put them ahead in so many aspects of life by exposing them to the world of business, helping them network and by giving them that out of the classroom experience that will prepare them for the future more than any typical class could,” CEO alumna Julia Hall, now a freshman at Southeast Missouri State Missouri in Cape Girardeau, said. 

“CEO is also a great tool to have when one is applying for colleges and taking on interviews because you will have already had so much experience with things of that nature.”

Students who are interested in participating in the CEO program are invited to visit Facebook for more information on the class activities and/or unioncountyceo.org to apply. All school counselors have more information.  

The Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship is a 501(C)(3) organization that worked to revolutionize the concept of entrepreneurship education through the CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) program. 

Today, the Midland Institute provides tools, training, and technology to 62 CEO programs in seven different states and nearly 300 high schools. 

Midland Institute staff members work closely with business, school and community leaders in the establishment and launch of CEO’s proven model.

Staff members continue to work together with CEO boards and facilitators to support the ongoing work of the program in their communities. More information can be found online at midlandinstitute.com.


The Gazette-Democrat

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Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
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