Students get once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at Enterprise Village

For three decades students have been taking part in a unique educational experience in Pinellas County.

"We have students that travel from Sarasota, Hernando, Citrus County, Pasco, Hillsborough and they have all been coming here for the last 30 years," said Stavros Institute Director Patricia Jeremiah Pittman.

The students are taking part in "Enterprise Village," a hands-on educational learning experience run by the Stavros Institute and the Pinellas Education Foundation. 

"You can preach to a child all day long, you can stand in front of them and talk, but really how they learn is by doing," explained Enterprise Village resource teacher Leslie VanHorn. 

Students spend eight weeks in the classroom studying economics. They learn basic concepts of banking, business and consumer planning. They take what they learn in the classroom to an “actual” simulated city with 37 storefronts.

"They learn here in Enterprise Village the meaning of going to work and how you make those decisions in regards to being a consumer and being an employee,” Pittman said.

For student Jelissa Matos the experience has been great. She says, "It’s more fun to do that than having to sit at a desk all day just waiting to do work all day."

Volunteer Jennifer Craft visited the mall when she was in the 5th grade. "I love it,” she said. “I think it gives kids a good experience on what life is all about."

Children learn practical skills to help make well-rounded students. 

The program, which started in Pinellas County, has grown to 35 cities around the United States. Plus two in Japan and one in Jamaica.

Enterprise Village is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.