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Quenching a thirst for knowledge

Lemonade Day aims to teach kids how to reap rewards from the fruits of their labors

What do you do when life gives you lemons? You turn it into an opportunity to groom the next generation of entrepreneurs.

That’s what the organizers behind the area’s first Lemonade Day are hoping to do Aug. 11, when lemonade stands will pop up across the Sauk Valley.

From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day, youth-run lemonade stands will open for business in Sterling, Rock Falls, Dixon and Oregon, serving the sweet summer nectar and in the process, teaching kids what it takes to run a business.

It’s part of a national program aimed at teaching grade-school-age kids the basics of business – everything from customer service to supply and demand to getting a return on the investment – as well as college and career readiness by encouraging critical thinking and collaboration. Kids also can learn about life skills and personal development through leadership, time management and social skills.

That’s squeezing an awful lot of learning out of a lemonade stand. But that’s what the sponsors of the program – Compass Media and the Local Explorer app – are aiming for.

"They get to learn everything about owning a business and what to do with the money – to invest back in their business, saving it or donating their earnings to charity,” Local Explorer President Michael Johnson said.

So far, 125 people have signed up, but up to 400 can be accommodated.

The program provides the know-how and the budding young businessmen and women provide the stand and the lemonade.

"It's free to register, and the kids who do get a free backpack with an entrepreneur workbook or access to a mentor that teaches them the valuable lessons of Lemonade Day," Local Explorer President Michael Johnson said.

The workbook shows kids how to create a budget, set up revenue goals, serve customers, repay investors, and give back to the community. From there it's up to the the operators to turn the lemonade stand into a reality – finding an investor, gathering the materials, and setting up the stand.

"Just register before the Aug.11, pick up your free backpack, and get started," Johnson said.

Organizers also are looking for mentors, partners, volunteers and sponsors to provide building materials, leadership and help spread the word.


Want to sign up, volunteer, mentor or sponsor Lemonade Day?

Go to, email Michael Johnson at or call 312-545-4787.

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