CICERO, Ill., March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Students from Morton East High School had the opportunity on Wednesday to attend a personal finance workshop thanks to the combined efforts of Junior Achievement, Smithfield Foods' Learners to Leaders ® program and the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. The group of approximately 85 students took part in Junior Achievement's Personal Finance Program, which teaches young people the importance of planning, goal-setting and strategic thinking when making personal financial decisions. The event was held at Morton College and hosted by Smithfield Foods and two members of its family of companies: John Morrell and Company, and Morrell business unit Saratoga Food Specialties. The students were greeted by Cicero Town Trustee Frank Aguilar. Junior Achievement of Chicago and Smithfield Foods' Learners to Leaders educational initiative planned the day for the students. Eighteen Saratoga employees volunteered, after receiving training from Junior Achievement personnel, to help conduct some of the workshop sessions. "All of us at Saratoga really enjoy working with the students," said Jim Bejna, Saratoga's director of operations. "It's rewarding to help these kids develop the tools they'll need to grow and be successful in life." Junior Achievement's Personal Finance program teaches students about budgeting, managing risk, how their daily choices affect their ability to save for the future and how to avoid common credit pitfalls, among many other valuable tips. Students learn how to save, borrow, spend and invest their earnings responsibly. "The value of money is an important lesson and this event gives students a great chance to take their classroom knowledge one step further," said Peter Truschke, vice president of suburban operations, suburban Cook County, for Junior Achievement of Chicago. "It's always fun working with the students and our Saratoga volunteers." Dennis H. Treacy, Smithfield Foods' executive vice president and chief sustainability officer, said, "We feel it's our company's responsibility to strengthen the communities where we operate, and this often begins with education. Our partnership with Junior Achievement and the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens is the perfect way for us to help create promising opportunities for our young people in the Chicagoland area by improving access to quality education." The Learners to Leaders program is a national educational alliance that teams Smithfield Foods and its independent operating companies with local educational and mentoring partners to develop individually tailored community programs to help individuals achieve educational goals. Learners to Leaders focuses on those who have the desire to succeed, but need some assistance to strengthen their skills and overcome challenges—whether academic, social or economic. These are often first-generation college-bound students, low-income, or minority individuals.