On Saturday, April 6, Junior Achievement (JA) of East Texas will hold their 10th Annual Denim and Diamonds event at A.P. and Susie Merritt’s Ranch in Kilgore, Texas. Founded in 1980, JA empowers young people to own their own future and meet the realities of work in a 21st century global marketplace. JA offers activity-based, interactive instruction that focuses on entrepreneurship and financial literacy as well as work and college readiness. The funds raised will allow JA to provide in-school economic education programs to more than 10,000 area students in elementary, junior, and senior high school.
As a Junior Achievement board member, John Ben Blackburn believes students today need every advantage available in their journey towards becoming contributors to society.
“Some (students) have few or no role models that can help them learn how to put their best food forward to get their first job. Without a first job and someone to help them, they may never establish a strong work history on which to begin building their work life,” Mr. Blackburn said. “Sometimes it is something as simple as helping them learn to shake hands using a firm grip and looking them in the eye.”
In addition to his JA service as a board member, Mr. Blackburn volunteers as a JA instructor in the classroom. He also serves as coach for his son’s baseball team.
Born in Garland, Texas, Mr. Blackburn has resided in Longview for five years. He and his wife, Amy, have been married for 15 years and are the parents of Jack, 10, and Sophie, 7. Mr. Blackburn is a graduate of Marshall High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and his juris doctor degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas. Mr. Blackburn is an Assistant General Counsel for Martin Midstream Partners L.P. and Martin Resource Management Corporation in Kilgore, Texas. The Blackburns are members of First United Methodist Church of Longview where Mr. Blackburn has taught 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday school.
“My wife, Amy, and I can’t go anywhere around Longview without running into a child or colleague that we have met through a volunteer opportunity,” Mr. Blackburn said. “I love being a volunteer in our community because East Texas is a place where all of us can make a meaningful difference with the people we touch.”
For more information about Junior Achievement’s 10th Annual Denim and Diamonds event, please call 903-297-2202 or visit www.jaeasttexas.org.