Nancy's parents were business people, she grew up with business stories at the dinner table and she learned the work ethic early in life as an avid horseback rider. She was up at 4:30 in the morning cleaning horses and mucking out stalls.
This early hands-on experience inspires her to take her students into the field. Her creed: "Prepare students for what they're really going to need when they graduate." Nancy accompanied nine of her undergraduates to Portland, Ore., for a conference on promoting both business profitability and sustainability. Her students mixed for four days with business people, academics and other students from diverse backgrounds, then returned to HSU to share what they had learned with the campus community.
Nancy's students experience entrepreneurship from the ground up in client projects with community businesses. In one instance, her students created a business plan for a combined family resource center and a mini-golf enterprise in Arcata. "When they apply a business plan in the real world, they really understand it—it isn't just an abstraction," she says.
Humboldt State has an Entrepreneurs Club and Nancy is a strong advocate of learning through co-curricular activities. Recently the club assisted Jacoby Creek School for a month and a half, helping the kids prepare a crafts fair. HSU students teamed up with the Humboldt County Office of Education to help teach the young students basic business skills, such as how to calculate profit and how to advertise. "The Jacoby Creek children felt so good about their crafts fair and that's a confidence they'll carry with them for the rest of their lives. And confidence produces the tenacity you need to be a successful businessperson. I firmly believe that."
Nancy organizes cross-disciplinary experiences for her students. One group of her undergrads, who were learning how to do small business consulting, spent four hours in Redwood Park with students from a recreation programming class. Her students went through a demanding challenge course. What does that have to do with business? "Strenuous physical activity teaches teamwork and communications skills, and both are vital to business success," Nancy says. "We in the business community say that at least 75 percent of what we do is communication."