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MSU Profiles

A meaningful project benefits students and local animal shelter

The advantages to learning by doing are endless. So when Kris Warmoth, Minot State University Center for Extended Learning dean, approached Chuck Barney, MSU's Severson Entrepreneurship Academy director, asking if the Severson Entrepreneurship Club could help the Souris Valley Animal Shelter, he seized the opportunity to make it a hands-on learning experience for the students.

"Students learn best by applying what they learn in the classroom to real world business ventures that are meaningful to them," Barney said. "The animal shelter is a venture that not only this group is passionate about, but our benefactors Clint Severson and Conni Ahart are dedicated supporters of animal rescue."

The Souris Valley Animal Shelter wanted to use an old storage building as a boarding facility for dogs and needed assistance identifying revenue streams ... additional money that would be more reliable than grants. The Severson Entrepreneurship Club met with Randy McDonald, director of the Souris Valley Animal Shelter, and looked over the building, reviewed the books, analyzed what the shelter was spending, and prepared a market analysis to illustrate what other boarding clinics charge, occupancy rates and services provided. Barney, however, knew additional assistance and expertise was needed.

"Jay Hight with Hight Construction Llc. has always been good to our program, so I contacted him and he graciously gave us access to his in-house architect," Barney said.

Upon inspection, the architect discovered the building did not have proper footers, requiring an extensive remodel to make it all happen. The architect worked up drawings and provided an estimate.

"It was getting expensive, but Jay (Hight) contacted others he knew in the industry, suppliers and tradesman, and they put together a package of in kind and donated materials to equal the money that the project required," Barney said.

The SEA students created a tool, a spreadsheet, to estimate the final cost. This spreadsheet allowed the Souris Valley Animal Shelter to juggle the numbers, calculate how many kennels would need to be rented per day and determine a break-even point.

"The students developed this useful tool with the skills they learned in the classroom, and this project allowed them to apply it to real life through the Severson Entrepreneurship Academy," Barney said. "Our goal is to find projects the students are emotionally invested in, and this was the ideal project to do just that and be of service to a worthy cause."