SHULLSBURG, Wis. — A Shullsburg high school senior and business owner soon will compete for a $10,000 scholarship.
Madison Russell, 17, is one of four finalists in the statewide Junior Achievement Young Entrepreneur Live Competition. Next week, she will travel to Waukesha to showcase her business, Prime Time Performance, in front of a panel of celebrity judges.
Prime Time Performance uses pulsed electromagnetic field therapy to reduce pain and inflammation in animals by promoting increased metabolism and blood flow. The technique provides an alternative to antibiotics or drugs, according to Madison, whose family raises sheep.
She launched the business in October 2019 after learning about PEMF therapy at stock shows that her family attends.
“It’s the best feeling in the world when you get a call and these people have spent all summer preparing their animal, and the animals aren’t feeling well, and you’re able to help them,” she said.
Madison’s mother, Jennifer, is the agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Shullsburg High School. When she learned of the JA competition, she and Madison both thought Prime Time Performance was the perfect fit.
Madison submitted a video, a business write-up and financial information. In early January, she was selected as a finalist.
“I was so happy,” she said. “I was about to go play a basketball game, but (the competition) was all I could think about.”
To prepare for the competition, Madison and the three other finalists will meet via Zoom with mentors from JA, who will help them develop a marketing plan and pitch. Although she said she is a bit nervous, Madison is no stranger to the stage, having competed and won at regional and national FFA conventions.
“FFA does a great job of encouraging kids to become entrepreneurs,” Jennifer said. “When kids think about starting a business, they may think that it’s an impossible task, so competitions like this and programs that we offer in FFA help students see that this is something they really can do.”
While the top prize is $10,000, the other finalists still receive $1,500.
“It’s just special when you can earn that money for something that you’re really passionate about,” Jennifer said. “She’s worked really hard to grow her business, (but) those big ambitions take some financing and are more than just hard work and sweat. Getting the chance for her to do it on her own is just great.”
After high school, Madison hopes to attend either Oklahoma State University or Iowa State University to study animal science, specializing in small ruminant reproduction, and eventually attend veterinary school.
She also hopes to continue expanding Prime Time Performance. Although the COVID-19 pandemic made it hard to travel and attend shows last year, she continues to offer local services and has developed a regional customer base.
“She’s been developing contacts with producers across the show industry that I think will help her to better understand the industry and where she can serve a useful purpose,” Jennifer said.