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A Publication of WTVP

Junior Achievement of Central Illinois, Inc. will be 50 years old in 2006. As our office prepares to celebrate, though, we remember those whose day centers on survival—not celebration. While JA continues to support natural disaster victims with time and money, we’re also contributing with our core strength: creating a timely, practical series of lessons for students called “The Economics of Natural Disasters.”

The four-part series includes activities on “The Economics of Natural Disasters,” “Support for Disaster Recovery,” “Natural Disasters and the Global Economy,” and “Natural Disasters and Tourism.” These lessons are available to educators at www.ja.org.

JA’s unique approach to students always has been the business professional teaching the non-lecture-based material, rather than the “actual” teacher. However, these nimble lessons can be taught by a JA classroom consultant (in-class volunteer) or the students’ daily teacher.

In “The Economics of Natural Disasters,” one activity has students using a globe to become knowledgeable on where significant natural disasters have occurred in past decades. They then assess the economic impact through warning time for residents to seek shelter; ability to recover economically from the disaster; and potential loss of people, capital, and natural resources.

An additional activity in this first section centers on human action that could limit or worsen damage, such as building practices, types of design and construction, and commercial development that changed the natural environment.

“Support for Disaster Recovery” outlines the spending role of individuals, businesses, and the federal government. The JA material goes a step further, though, by sharing with students the viewpoint of economists such as Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, who believes businesses should only be responsible to shareholders and not diverted to support various social causes. Energetic student participation is likely to ensue.

“Natural Disaster and the Global Economy” has student activities centering on infrastructure, including energy prices. One activity has students dividing into teams and listing ways to conserve energy in homes. Students learn that conservation is actually an investment.

“Natural Disasters and Tourism” teaches students that tourism is indeed an industry as much as manufacturing. The annual tourism industry in New Orleans is $7 billion. Students then identify tourist attractions both internationally and in their area.

I’ve spent most of my life in central Illinois, and I’m proud of it. I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time in the classroom teaching our youth—youth who frequently claim “there’s nothing to do around here.” “The Natural Disasters and Tourism” module hopefully will connect students to the many organizations in Peoria attempting to tout the wonderful region in which we live.

I enjoy seeing students realize they don’t have to move to a major metropolitan area to enjoy their lives. IBI

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