International students aid Iowa Lakes businesses for summer - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

International students aid Iowa Lakes businesses for summer

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OKOBOJI, Iowa (KTIV) -

Summer businesses in the Iowa Great Lakes region see massive crowds like this.

But, just how do area businesses operate when they see such a huge increase in business during the summer months? 

"Employers who need employees and the Okoboji area is a tourist area just like, even on a smaller level, the Wisconsin Dells and Ocean City, Maryland. So, there's a lot of tourist areas that need extra help and there just isn't enough American students to fill those jobs," says Sheila Ove, Director for the International Student Outreach Program in Okobiji, Iowa 

"It takes a lot to get businesses in the Iowa Great Lakes region to be able to run smoothly during the Fourth of July holiday week and sometimes they need extra help,"  reports Ashly Richardson.

That help comes from students across the globe.

J1 visa students come to tourist hot spots, like Okoboji, to work for the summer.

With over 300 international students in the lakes region, it's a massive part of how they get business done.

"I think without our J1 visa students people would be stretched thinner to find the bodies to fill what's needed. We're getting a huge influx of tourism here this summer, once again, beautiful weather since Walleye Weekend through Memorial Day so that means thousands and thousands of people every single weekend and you've got to have the people to help, whether it's clearing tables or helping in some other ways. So, these J1 visa students are essential to the workforce in Okoboji," says Jeff Thee, with Parks Marina. 

The students come to work in the resort town and gain more than just work experience.

They get to learn about American culture, as well. 

"There are so many people here and a lot of work and I'm speaking with people a lot because everyone is asking me for something and it's a great experience for me," says Julia Merkulova, a student from Russia.

Helping to make business in Okoboji thrive. 

In Okoboji, Iowa Ashly Richardson KTIV News Four.

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