Cape siblings honored for savvy business skills by director of Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Jeffery Turk holds his award while sisters Lizzie, left, and Kayleigh receive theirs from James Stapleton, director of Southeast Missouri State University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, during an awards ceremony Tuesday at Jefferson Elementary. (ADAM VOGLER)

Kayleigh, Lizzie and Jeffrey Turk could barely wait for Cape Splash, Cape Girardeau's new water park, to open in May 2010. The twin sisters, now 10 years old, and little their brother, now 7, begged their mother, Suzanna Long, to give them money for tickets. Their mother said they would have loved even more to have season passes so they could spend as many days as possible playing in sprinklers and shooting down water slides during their summer vacation.

"I guess I could have found a way to give them that," Long said. "But I wasn't really raised that way. My dad had a garden, and we got up early every morning to get ready to sell at his stand. If we wanted something, we had to work for it."

Besides, Long had just been laid off from her job. But she and the children's father made a deal with the children: They would invest $50 into a business for the kids to run and if they were successful, they could keep their profits and spend them however they wanted. So the deal was made.

During the first summer, the siblings sold ice-cold sodas, brownies and candy to neighbors and passers-by from the front yard of their South Sprigg Street home. Within a month they were able to raise the money they needed for the water park passes. They've done the same during the past two summers, raising more each year -- this year enough to spend at the SEMO District Fair, too. Their planning for a summer full of sales now begins around April.

Tuesday at Jefferson Elementary, the children were presented with a surprise. Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University, called them to the front of the student body during an awards ceremony. Stapleton said he had heard of the children's venture and decided to highlight their work as young entrepreneurs.

The children built up a trusted reputation in the neighborhood, made fliers to advertise and used good practices to manage and save their money to keep their business running, their mother said.

"These are skills that will help them forever," Stapleton told Long following the award of medals to each sibling with the inscription "Outstanding Business Leader," and entrepreneurial kits containing business planners and other tools.

Lizzie Turk said the next item on her list to sell will go with the season. She and her sister and brother will soon offer small bags of pecans.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

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