“A New Business in Town”

Otterville High School

  • Encourage community involvement and promote school activities
  • Enhance CTE programs and strengthen career pathways
  • Endorse Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)

Rural Otterville, Missouri has a new business in town, and it isn’t on Main Street! Otterville High School belongs to a district with a K-12 student population of about 250. The school’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter encourages student leadership by using VariQuest Visual & Kinesthetic Learning Tools to teach business skills.

In 2013, Otterville High School applied for and received an Enhancement Grant, which is a type of Career Education Grant available through the Missouri Department of Education. The school used this grant to purchase VariQuest Visual & Kinesthetic Learning Tools to support their FBLA chapter. The schools owns the following tools:

We recently spoke with Cindy Birdwell, Business Instructor and FBLA Advisor, who explained, “The VariQuest Tools have made a world of difference in my classroom. They have opened up new technology for my students in a small rural community.”

The Otterville FBLA Chapter has been able to use their VariQuest tools to promote school activities and engage the community with personal and business requests.

“We have made posters, banners, large blank checks, flyers, vinyl clings and magnets. The members have been able to participate in marketing, sales, and accounting.” Birdwell and FBLA give students the chance for enhanced educational opportunities by helping them gain the skills they need to be successful leaders after high school.

The students create customized flyers and order forms to advertise their services at sporting events and to local merchants. They also receive orders from neighboring schools for full-color posters and banners printed with the Perfecta, as well as, vinyl lettering cutouts. In the community, they consistently receive orders from local organizations, including the Lamine River Hunt Club. For example, they recently made 30 signs with vinyl lettering from the Cutout Maker for the local truck and tractor pull.

In addition to educating students and advancing the CTE programs within the district, Birdwell and the Otterville School District have assisted other schools in grant writing, explaining the benefits of VariQuest tools in the CTE classroom.

Mrs. Birdwell empowers her students to take ownership of the VariQuest tools and of the business process. Students create their marketing materials, provide customer service, manage invoices, and execute product creation. The VariQuest tools are run exclusively by the students.

One student was able to attend the Central Business Teachers Association fall meeting in October 2013, which was a fantastic opportunity for the student leader to demonstrate his knowledge of the equipment. He showed examples of magnetic vehicle decals and vinyl window stickers created with the Cutout Maker, as well as, poster examples. He also created a takeaway vinyl logo with respective school colors as well as a full color poster with the FBLA pledge, which “gave each prospective buyer a reminder of what they could have should they write an Enhancement Grant requesting VariQuest tools.”

Two students were able to assist a VariQuest representative at the Missouri Business Education Association Conference in the summer of 2014. Birdwell called it the highlight of the year: “The administration [allowed them] the privilege of representing not only our school, but our organization. Presenting their usage and knowledge of [the] VariQuest equipment to an educational audience was a feather in their cap.”

At the conference, the Otterville FBLA brought along posters, magnetic and vinyl items to display. These examples were created for chapter usage or examples of community member purchases. While one student created on-site examples, the other interacted with conference attendees. Both students learned about patience, communication, organizational importance, and public relations.

Check out this video created featuring Ms. Birdwell and her students talking about running their own student-based enterprise! 


Congratulations to Otterville High School FBLA and Cindy Birdwell for your success in using VariQuest Visual & Kinesthetic Learning Tools to create career pathways and help students gain valuable career and technical skills. We look forward to seeing your student-based enterprise grow!