PBL team fares well at national conference

Release Date: 7/13/2011

Clarksville, Ark. --- The University of the Ozarks' Phi Beta Lambda team took home three top-10 finishes during the FBLA-PBL National Leadership Conference, held June 23-26 in Orland, Fla.

Katy Niskern, a 2011 Ozarks graduate from Edmond, Okla., who plans to pursue an MBA at the University of Tulsa this fall, placed seventh in the nation in the Free Enterprise competition. Niskern’s project included helping students learn real-world business practices and procedures through such events as the Distinguished Speakers Series and tours of local companies and industries.

The team of Kayla Casey of Clarksville and Eugene Downs of Nicaragua placed 10th in Community Service. Also, Daniela Ruiz of Clarksville was on the Arkansas Chapter State Parliamentary Procedure team that finished second in their category.

Kayla Casey discusses the U of O’s PBL chapter project called CANS, which organized an elementary school food drive that collected nearly 2,000 cans of food for the Clarksville Housing Authority last year.

“I was really proud of how these students represented the University of the Ozarks on the national level,” said Dr. Rickey Casey, a PBL advisor who is the executive director of international studies and a professor of management and business. “Their projects and presentations not only did well at this competition, but they made a positive difference throughout the year in their local communities and that’s the important thing.”

Casey and Downs helped develop and implement an Ozarks PBL chapter project called CANS, which taught elementary school students about hunger problems in Clarksville and how the students could help. The PBL members presented the students with a contest to collect non-perishable canned food items to donate to the Clarksville Housing Authority, which provides housing to low-income families. Nearly 2,000 cans were collected for the CHA.

“This project is simply indescribable,” said Casey, a senior general business and marketing/business administration major. “It is amazing when we get to see the faces of the families who come through and pick up the cans that we collected. To see the big, bright smiles they give is an amazing feeling and makes our members feel good inside to know that we are making a huge difference in our community. The experience not only was uplifting, but also inspired us to want to continue community service work for many more years to come.”

Also joining the U of O contingent at the national conference were advisor Phyllis Johnson, assistant professor of business education, and students Meagan Ponseigo, Su San Low and Kaci Foster.