Entrepreneurship for young rural developers
Innovation and creativity in rural development and agriculture is in focus when Valle upper secondary school at Toten, Norway, educate their students in the use of natural resources. Through international cooperation, competence to rethink traditional industries is developed.
Valle upper secondary school is participating in a Nordic-Baltic partnership supported through Nordplus Horizontal. The project has nine partners from five countries and both upper secondary schools and Young Entrepreneurship’s sister organisations in the five countries participate. Stine Hansen is in grade VG3 at Valle and participated in an entrepreneur camp in Finland spring 2010: “We were students from different countries who worked together in a group, and got 24 hours to solve a problem for a company”, says Stine, who attends the general studies branch and is excited about the many possibilities the school provides for participation in activities in other countries. She has also been to The Netherlands for a three-week course directed by the Leonardo-programme. The entrepreneur camp in Finland was organised by JA-YE Finland (Junior Achievement – Young Entrepreneurs) which is one of the partners in the project.
The Nordplus project, which is coordinated by Junior Achievement in Estonia, still primarily focuses on the outcome for the teachers and institutions. The goal is that the schools and organisations will, through different activities within the project’s timeframe 2008-2011, increase their competence in innovation and creativity, and work towards getting this included as part of the training. Valle is the only school in the network with use of natural resources in the curriculum, but the principal, Morten Kleven, does not see this as a problem.
“We exchange methodologies and ideas in the network, and I feel that we have contributed greatly to the project. Agriculture and the natural resource industries are changing, and youths today must be trained to see and find different revenue opportunities for a farm or for other natural resource industries.”
Valle has through several years developed fixed activities for students at different grades which include Kindergarten Day, Into-the-yard-day and the Christmas Market. The arrangements need to be based in business terms, as the activities are supposed to make money. The students will be responsible for marketing and contact with the press, and they need to think about economics and management. In December it is Christmas at Valle that is next in line, and is marketed with many activities, and various student companies offer their goods and services. The school’s students sell Christmas trees, and several students have their own horse in the school’s stable and offer horse-drawn sleigh rides. Also on offer are poinsettias from the school’s own greenhouse, sheepskin and wool products, a chainsaw show, and lefse baking -which is a thin pastry served folded and spread with butter. The traditional Norwegian barn gnome fjøsnissen is also there.
The competence that the school has developed in entrepreneurship education and the Nordplus Horizontal project is also used in other international projects the school participates in. The network INPACT consists of natural resource management schools in eight European countries that offer each other’s students three-week courses in different areas from keeping goats to feed production for high yielding dairy cows to production of olives and wine in Greece. The internships are supported by the LLP-program Leonardo da Vinci and Valle’s course is in entrepreneurship.
“The school has had a major focus on international cooperation over several years. We have now established an international work group which helps to keep focus on this high. The school has had an increasing number of students in recent years and we believe that our students’ possibilities for participation in international projects is one of the factors that make us more attractive”, concludes principal Morten Kleven.
TEXT: Kjetil Myklebust, SIU, Norway
TRANSLATION: Tone Nilsen, SIU, Norway