RLC Hosts CEO/EDGE Business Visit for High School Students

INA, Ill. (November 1, 2022) — Rend Lake College held a business visit for Jefferson County CEO and Franklin County EDGE students last week at the RLC Event Center. The groups included high school juniors and seniors interested in business-driven careers. 

Mark Jornd welcomes CEO/EDGE classes
RLC Business Professor Mark Jornd welcomes members of Jefferson County CEO and Franklin County EDGE program at the Rend Lake College Event Center. 

The Jefferson County CEO program focuses on an entrepreneurial education that seeks to prepare people, especially youth, to be responsible, enterprising individuals who become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers and contribute to economic development and sustainable communities. In the CEO program, facilitators immerse students in real-life learning experiences with the opportunity to take risks, manage the results, and learn from the outcomes.

The Franklin County Entrepreneurial Development Growth & Education (EDGE) program is partnered with RLC and is designed to teach entrepreneurial skills to Franklin County high school students. The program prepares students to start and run businesses through classroom work, business tours, and visiting with guest speakers from the community.

The visit was an opportunity to work on problem-solving skills with students currently attending RLC business classes.

RLC Business Professor Mark Jornd began the visit with a problem-solving icebreaker. He divided students into groups containing a mixture of CEO, EDGE, and RLC students. The groups had a task to reach a consensus on rating the importance of items to salvage in an arctic plane crash scenario. Mark Wanvig is a former instructor in survival training for the Reconnaissance School of the 101st Division in the U.S. Army. He developed the correct ranking system using his years of experience and education.

Sarah Bilderbeck oversees building activityMembers of the Jefferson County CEO and Franklin County EDGE program work together in an icebreaker exercise at the Rend Lake College Event Center. 

The students went back and forth, discussing which items should make the highest rank. Students negotiated their reasoning and supported their stance with evidence from stories they had heard.

After students agreed on their rankings, Jornd showed them the correct answers.

“While this is an icebreaker to introduce you to the teams,” Jornd said. “You can see how different perspectives can lead you to different conclusions.” Jornd then asked students where they went wrong and the reasoning behind their decisions.

untitled-492RLC Professor, Sarah Bilderbeck, watches members of the Jefferson County CEO and Franklin County EDGE program as they work together in a building activity at the Rend Lake College Event Center. 

RLC Business Professor Sarah Bilderbeck led the next activity.

Bilderbeck instructed groups to build towers using wooden blocks. They were to construct them in a manner that would allow them to remove blocks and replace them on top of their structures. However, once a block was placed, students could not move it.

Students selected a group leader that would be the final voice in moving blocks and began building.

First round building winnersMembers of the Jefferson County CEO and Franklin County EDGE program win the preliminary round of the building activity at the Rend Lake College Event Center. 

Some blocks were larger than others, creating unique building strategies for each group. Some groups quickly realized that reaching the top of their towers was difficult because they began their builds from the table instead of the floor.

Once they completed their structures, Bilderbeck counted the layers and declared two first-round leaders, with 33 layers each. The students then had to pull blocks from the base of their design to try to build higher. Soon after, the sound of falling wooden structures rang out through the event center.

Towers are fallingThe tower falls as members of the Jefferson County CEO and Franklin County EDGE program battle it out in a building activity at the Rend Lake College Event Center. 

Bilderbeck stated that this team-building activity helps students assume leadership roles and help in the decision-making process of a group task.

jennifer Trantino Linsin Explains visual communicationRend Lake College's Visual Communication Design Professor Jennifer Tarantino Linsin presents to students in the CEO/EDGE program at the Rend Lake College Event Center. 

Jornd then introduced participants to Rend Lake College’s Visual Communication Design Professor, Jennifer Tarantino Linsin. “What is visual communication, and how does it work with business?” Tarantino Linsin asked. “I think It would be best if I showed you.” Jennifer then played a video showing RLC Alumni who were successful in business using skills in design and marketing.

“Many people see marketing as sales, which isn’t always the case,” said Tarantino Linsin. “You can promote blood drives to help save lives with these skills. You could encourage donations to a food pantry. Design is all around us, and businesses use it daily to help people make decisions.”

Jennifer then had the students look at an image on the screen. It was buildings that formed the shapes of letters. The students were challenged to find something in the room that shaped a letter. Students moved around and looked for different items that would meet the criteria. Jennifer stated that the purpose of the exercise was to look at things from a new perspective.

In the final activity, Jornd and Bilderbeck distributed antiquated technology items and tasked the students with creating a new product out of the old one. Students quickly got to work and designed pitches for each of the products. “This activity allows students to be creative as they work as a team,” said Jornd. “It is a student favorite each time we do this. Sometimes they will turn an old phone into a new gadget with teleporting abilities, or anything else they can imagine.”

Group working on inventionsMembers of the Jefferson County CEO and Franklin County EDGE program use teamwork in the "New Technology" activity at the Rend Lake College Event Center. 

The students finished the day by presenting their inventions to the rest of the group.

“The students in Franklin County EDGE have always enjoyed coming out to Rend Lake College for these activities,” said Lee Messersmith, Franklin County EDGE facilitator. “The program is an important part of learning how to work as a team to prepare them for the journey ahead."

To learn more about the business program at RLC, contact Professor Mark Jornd - at [email protected]


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Dean of Applied Science & Technology
Phone Extension: 1292
Building: Advanced Technology Center
Office: 138
M.S. & B.S., Southern Illinois University | Ph.D.,  Missouri Baptist University
Business Associate Professor
Phone Extension: 1754
Building: Advanced Technology Center
Office: 180
A.A.S., Rend Lake College | B.S., Mid-Continent University
Business Associate Professor
Phone Extension: 1273
Building: Advanced Technology Center
Office: 185
Mark received a Bachelor’s degree in Finance with an emphasis in Financial Analysis from Benedictine University and followed that up with a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). He has worked in the private sector as a small business owner and Registered Investment Adviser Representative for more than 20 years. Mark has been the lead instructor in Accounting, Economics, and Business at Rend Lake College since 2010. M.B.A. & B.A., Benedictine University

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