Answer Man

Junior Achievement is alive and well, helping teens succeed

Q: Whatever happened to Junior Achievement? I participated for several years in high school a long time ago, but as far as I know, now that we really need it, it’s gone.

Jack Randle, of Marissa

A: Before you start waxing too nostalgic for those halcyon days of yore, try these numbers on for size:

This year, Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis will impact the lives of 153,000 students in more than 800 schools. As it prepares for its 75th anniversary next year, the St. Louis organization — which encompasses parts of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana — is the sixth-largest out of 113 such groups across the nation in terms of student outreach. With an annual budget of $3.6 million, it currently boasts a professional staff of more than 50, a volunteer board of more than 60 and an additional 7,500 volunteers delivering classroom programs.

So throw that premature obituary away. Junior Achievement says it is still working overtime to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy, and anyone who could lend expertise or profit from its program is urged to jump on board.

It’s been that way ever since Horace Moses, president of Strathmore Paper Co., and Theodore Vail, president of American Telephone and Telegraph, co-founded the organization in 1919 in Springfield, Mass., as the Boys’ and Girls’ Bureau of the Eastern States League.

“Our nation’s future depends upon making every individual young and old fully realize the obligations and responsibilities belonging to citizenship,” Vail said. “That being said, habits are formed in youth, and we have the responsibility to teach the growing generations to realize that thrift and economy, coupled with industry, are necessary.”

Just about a quarter century later, Robert Lund, president of Lambert Pharmaceutical, and Herman Spoehrer, president of Sporian Valve Co., brought JA to St. Louis. For its first executive director, they hired Bud Schwenk, a former pro football quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts who led the local JA until his death in 1980. By that time, the local group was the nation’s largest.

Today, JA services nearly 70 counties in the three-state region as it educates young people about work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Its volunteers, who range from college students to business people to retirees, teach a wide range of age-appropriate programs for students in kindergarten through high school. Among the offerings: “Be Entrepreneurial,” “BizTown,” “Career Success” and “Exploring Economics.” They’re already prepping for another JA Career Fair in late September.

The rewards are far too numerous to list here. According to a 2016-17 JA alumni study, former JA students are 2 1/2 times more likely to start a business than the general public. About 93 percent earn a high school diploma or GED, and they are 67 percent more likely to earn an advanced college degree. A full 88 percent said they were satisfied with their career, far higher than the general population. As a result, they also have a higher median household income.

Schools interested in exploring Junior Achievement programs are welcome to call Carol A. Bouché, the district manager for Junior Achievement in Southwestern Illinois at 800-342-7119, ext. 220, or write her at 132 N. Kansas St. #962, Edwardsville, IL 62025 or (The district office covers 16 Illinois counties including all those in the metro-east.)

The organization is always looking for volunteers to lend their knowledge, as well as donations from the general public. For the complete scoop, including information on the upcoming JA Gateway to Achievement black-tie gala April 22, go to

▪ Allred all right: I’m hoping Fred Shrader, of Aviston, is enjoying Anne Allred’s work again on KSDK-TV, Channel 5. In late January, Allred underwent a kidney transplant after suffering renal failure during her pregnancy last year. After a two-month recovery, Allred returned to the KSDK anchor chair Monday.

▪ On the mend: Seems everyone but me knew that Ben’s in downtown Belleville also offers sewing machine repair. Just drop off your machine at the store, and it will be tuned up for $39.95. If it needs additional work or parts, they’ll call you before proceeding. One woman told me turnaround is quick and far cheaper than the $150 estimate another place gave her.

▪ General salute: Thanks to Richard Kosco for sending along the photos from the Gen. George Patton Museum of Leadership in Fort Knox, Ky. Begun in 1972, the museum includes a number of the general’s personal effects, including his office van and touring car. Also a note to Jack Kime, of Maryville: During the heptathlon competition at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, Patton not only finished sixth in the equestrian competition, but also third in the 4,000-meter run, fourth in fencing, seventh in swimming — and 21st in shooting.

▪ Bills big up north: In a recent column, I noted that the Billiken was a big hit in the early 1900s in Alaska. It apparently still is. Charlie Baird, of Godfrey, wrote to say that he was stationed at Fort Wainwright, Ala., from July 1969 to early 1971. “My first trip into Fairbanks where the bus drop-off was located was the Billiken Lounge. Of course, the marquee was a huge figure of the Billiken.”

▪ Feeling foolish: Last week I joked that the Belleville Historical Society would do its best not to make you feel like an April Fool at its April 1 trivia night. Turns out the only fool was me for listing the wrong location. I forgot the event was moved to St. Mary’s Church at 1722 W. Main St., so call 531-7753 to witness the first emcee wearing a dunce cap.

Today’s trivia

In which state would you find the least change in elevation?

Answer to Friday’s trivia: On May 7, 1980, Paul Geidel set a record when he walked out of the Fishkill Correctional Institute in New York a free man. On July 26, 1911, Geidel, 17, had robbed and murdered 73-year-old William Jackson. He was given a 20-year sentence, but was ruled criminally insane and kept in jail. When he was finally released, the 86-year-old had spent 68 years and 245 days in jail, the longest term ever served by any American prisoner who was released.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer