Nova Scotia

Junior Achievement conference draws world's brightest

Some of the brightest and most ambitious young people from around the world are gathered in Halifax this week.

Brightest, most ambituous teens gather in Halifax for lectures and workshops to build skills

The results of the conference are international collaborations on projects ranging from soap just like grandma used to make to biodegradable jewelry made out of potatoes. (Jon Tattrie/CBC)

Some of the brightest and most ambitious young people from around the world are gathered in Halifax this week.

The Junior Achievement conference brings an elite group of high school students together with a crack team of mentors. More than 130 young people from 10 countries are attending workshops and lectures at Saint Mary’s University.

The "Next Generation Leaders Forum" delegates will build on their leadership, creativity, teamworking and business skills as they face real-life business challenges and develop strategies in collaboration with their global peers, university faculty and business leaders.

The results are international collaborations on projects ranging from soap just like grandma used to make to biodegradable jewelry made out of potatoes.

The Cape Breton way

Katrina MacLean of Cape Breton made a laundry soap based on a grandmother's recipe.

"It's just part of the Cape Breton culture that you wouldn't just go out and buy something from the store whenever you needed it. Sometimes that wasn't always possible," she explained.

She developed the product using nothing more harmful than baking soda. She is learning how to prepare the idea if she wanted to launch it in the real world.

She found an accounting class especially invigorating.

"It's not just sitting behind a desk counting beans or being a pencil pusher, it's about real-world problems and applying logic. It's so exciting for me because I didn't know," she said.

MacLean is studying business at Saint Mary’s University starting this fall.

Potato plastic

Nicholas Kee, from Jamaica, plans to use knowledge gained at the conference to share with classmates back home. (Jon Tattrie/CBC)

Nicholas Kee from Jamaica developed a way to create biodegradable plastic.

"I'm creating jewelry made from organic plastic and the plastic is made from potatoes," he said.

He extracts raw materials and mixes them with other substances in the lab to produce an oil-free plastic. He's got his eye on extending its use to packaging and 3D printing.

He said it was amazing to be able to share his ideas with young people and mentors from around the world.

"The travel experience, meeting people — that was the main aim for me — to start networking, to start meeting people, having some kind of motivational background and backbone from others to help push not just me, but also for all of us, to push each other to higher heights."

He plans on sharing his knowledge with his classmates back in Jamaica as he enters his final year of high school this fall.

Confidence boost

Kristin Williams, president of Junior Achievers Nova Scotia, says that sort of sharing is what it's all about.

"I really hope that they learn to realize their potential. That's what Junior Achievement is all about. It's about giving the kids the opportunity to be more confident, to develop critical skills, like analytical skills, and also to develop financial literacy and competency that will prepare them for the business world."

The conference runs all week.

now