Having worked in the banking trust field for 18 years, Anesta Boice is a dedicated proponent of financial knowledge for the masses.
For bringing that knowledge to middle school students in Hernando County since 2007, Boice, of Spring Hill, was honored recently by the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team as its 24th community hero for the 2013-14 season. The award carries with it a prize of $50,000 to be donated to her favorite charity.
The money will go to Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, which nominated the Capital City Bank personal trust administration manager for the recognition, and to the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.
Boice, 48, says she became aware, as her two sons progressed through the Hernando public school system, that students were not always well prepared for life beyond the classroom. She recognized that programs available through the national Junior Achievement organization could help.
Starting with a pilot offering of JA's Economics for Success program at Parrott Middle School, Boice's dedication as a volunteer led to the program eventually being taught to every eighth-grade class in the county.
"Thousands of Hernando County residents have benefitted from Anesta's community involvement and exceptional leadership," her JA associates wrote on their nomination form for the community hero award.
Buttressed by employers telling her that high school graduates, particularly dropouts, did not have some of the skills they needed, Boice pressed school administrators to give the program a try, and she recruited local businessmen and -women to serve as instructors.
"She made it her mission," said Kym McGee, senior education director for Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, which encompasses Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
Last year, McGee said, JA conducted 191 of the half-day classes in 51 Hernando eighth-grade classrooms, reaching nearly 3,000 students.
With multiple eighth-grade classes at each school, each half day required 30 volunteer instructors. Boice not only enlisted them; she was always among the volunteers, McGee pointed out.
With help from the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce, Boice said, she has enlisted volunteers from the fields of insurance, teaching, health care, manufacturing, publishing, fast food and others.
Boice said the JA program being taught to the students is "about staying in school and being responsible about money."
"Volunteers ... spend three hours with students, going through various activities to have students examine their own skills, interests and values and think how that can translate to the workplace," she said.
Taken into account are budgeting, credit scoring, the benefits of insurance and how ultimate earnings are influenced by the level of formal education.
"I feel my time is well spent," Boice said, "if I can convince one student to graduate or one student to continue their education beyond high school."
Sam Shrieves, marketing president for Capital City Bank Pasco-Hernando, said Boice "brings opportunity to the classroom."
"Some people have short-term commitment," Shrieves said, "but she ... has continued that passion and involvement."
Boice has earmarked $40,000 of her Lightning award to Junior Achievement. McGee said it will help buy student instructional materials and volunteer training supplies for carrying Economics for Success to Hernando classrooms, and cover costs of copying and travel.
The remaining $10,000 will go to the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, which will establish a scholarship endowment at Pasco-Hernando State College, which Boice attended.
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny, donate the prize money from their Lightning Foundation for the Lightning Community Heroes honors. A hero is honored at each of the team's regular-season home games.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.