Three business SAIL students

SAIL Project Becomes Reality

A group of exceptional local high school students are moving forward with a project that originated during their time as participants in the UO business cohort of the Summer Academy to Inspire Learning (SAIL).

SAIL camps are free to students in grades 8 through 12 and are led by volunteer University of Oregon faculty. Program costs are covered through donations and supplemented with grant funding. The goal is to increase students" enrollment and success in college through early exposure and exploration. Founded in 2005 by economics faculty members Bill Harbaugh and Bruce Blonigen, who is currently serving as interim dean of the Lundquist College, the program has grown steadily and now hosts approximately 300 students on the UO campus for fun and interactive introductions to subjects including business, biology, chemistry, economics, physics, performing arts, psychology, English, German/Scandinavian, world cultures, education, environmental science, journalism, and folklore.

“Almost every UO department is involved in some way, shape, or form," said Lara Fernandez, executive director for SAIL. “It's a great way to increase your civic involvement."

Senior accounting lecturer Michele Henney has volunteered regularly as the SAIL business camp coordinator.

“Every year we do it, it gets better," she said. “The campers and community partners were very engaged. Everyone jumped in with both feet, really worked hard, and did a fabulous job on presentations."

As a part of their week of exposure to business curriculum during SAIL, high school students Eden Wilde, Shahalie Evans, and Emi Salgado were asked to come up with a marketing proposal for fundraising for SAIL community partner Greenhill Humane Society. To prepare, the students researched Greenhill, and business instructors answered questions and helped guide the students. The students came up with a written proposal and delivered a PowerPoint presentation to the Greenhill board. But the students received more than just pointers and encouragement. With a few small modifications, Greenhill is now moving forward with implementing the plan developed by the high schoolers.

The Plan

Eden, now a senior at Thurston High School, knew buttons were a low cost item that could be sold at a good profit due to a previous project. The buttons would promote Greenhill and feature its logo. (It was later decided the buttons would feature photos of animals from Greenhill instead.)

Shahalie, now a senior at Creswell High School, thought coffee stands would be a good potential partner.

Perhaps management would allow baristas to offer buttons for $1 each (a 72 cent net profit after materials and labor), with the funds raised donated to Greenhill, the students thought. Maybe the business would agree to donating a small percentage of sales for the two weeks of the promotion, too.

The group is currently seeking a partner coffee seller.

Lauren Merge, communications and events manager at Greenhill, sat in on one of the group's recent meetings.

“The SAIL team arrived at a solid plan, and are doing the legwork to make it happen. Greenhill couldn't do what we do without the support of the community, and these young people are a great example of going beyond the classroom and making a difference."

What now?

Bolstered by her SAIL experience, Eden is interested in pursuing a business degree at the University of Oregon.

Shahalie hopes to become a medical doctor and someday open her own practice. She said the SAIL program helped her see how a background in business would help her do that.

Emi plans to attend Lane Community College, but after her SAIL experience, would consider transferring to UO.

“Business spoke to me," she said. “I really liked it, and I made some new friends."

After high school graduation, all three would like to become summer camp counselors for the SAIL program.

If you would like to know more or become involved with the SAIL program, please visit or contact Lara Fernandez, executive director for SAIL at or 541-346-8378.