Business Club project rises to challenges and wins first place in state competition

Roger Coda
students at the humane society

Gathering for a group photo during their visit to the Lakeshore Humane Society are (front row, from left): Emily Johnson, Hayley Mack, Hanna Schultheis and Beauty, a five-year-old at the humane society; and (back row, from left): Mark Nickerson, advisor to Business Club; Joe DeChiaro, Molly Gibbs, Jason Opferbeck, Robert Atwood, Matt Sorokes and Andrea Conner.

The inaugural Adopt-a-Non-Profit project developed by students in the Business Club at Fredonia to improve the overall operation of the Lakeshore Humane Society placed first in the Community Service Project category at the New York Phi Beta Lambda State Leadership Conference competition.

Receiving the top award at the state level means the Community Service Project created by SUNY Fredonia Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), a branch of the Business Club, will advance to the 2020 National Leadership Conference scheduled at the end of June in Salt Lake City.

“Seeing the students’ dedication and commitment to this idea was something I could not be more proud of,” remarked Business Administration Lecturer Mark Nickerson. “This simply started off as an idea of the students to help local non-profits and turned into a full-blown project to be presented at a statewide conference.”

“Seeing the students’ dedication and commitment to this idea was something I could not be more proud of,” remarked Business Administration Lecturer Mark Nickerson. “This simply started off as an idea of the students to help local non-profits and turned into a full-blown project to be presented at a statewide conference.”

students working in a group
Students in the Business Club gathering at a pre-COVID-19 Sunday work session to prepare their Community Service Project for the Lakeshore Humane Society.

The actual state conference scheduled on March 28 at SUNY Oswego was not held due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but student chapters at schools across the state submitted their projects online for evaluation.

“To not only complete the project even after transitioning to distance learning but also take first place at the state level just shows how the students came together across disciplines to make this happen,” added Mr. Nickerson, the Business Club’s adviser. “They're already excited about the possibility of attending the national conference!”

New York Phi Beta Lambda is a state chapter at the collegiate level of Future Business Leaders of America, the world’s largest student, business organization.

A desire to benefit the community while gaining real-world experience led the students to select the Dunkirk-based humane society for its new Adopt-a-Non-Profit program, explained Molly Gibbs, Business Club president. Students were also passionate about the facility, which they toured in February, she noted.

“It’s always easier dedicating to a cause that you believe in,” said Ms. Gibbs, a Public Accountancy and Economics major.

Members of the SUNY Fredonia PBL who assembled the report included Emily Johnson, Jason Opferbeck, Hanna Schultheis, Lily Watson, Joe DeChiaro, Matt Sorokes, Robert Atwood, Anna Talbot, Shainee Islam, Zach Pawlicki, Annie Cordaro, Haylet Mack, Alyssa Szuch, Josue Petion and Gibbs.

The club’s objective was to help make the humane society a green shelter, while also improving its overall operation through new policies, financial planning and marketing strategies. Students worked in separate groups, based on academic majors or interests, to address one of the four areas and develop recommendations.

The go green group advocated LED light bulbs, commercial washing machines and powder detergent and consideration of solar panels. Students in the policies and procedures group proposed guidelines in the areas of spending/reimbursement, drug and alcohol use and sexual harassment, and created an accident report and fundraiser proposal forms.

Suggestions to improve Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as the organization’s website, were offered by the marketing and social media group. Consistency in pricing and branding in the humane society’s boutique was also recommended.

The finance and inventory group suggested increasing adoption fees, based on a survey of animal shelters in the region, and examining mutual funds for investments.

Gibbs said the 16-page report has been shared with the humane society treasurer. She hopes students can hold a Zoom conference with members of the humane society’s board of directors.

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