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UW Extension Helps Youths Build Business Savvy in Entrepreneur Series

February 11, 2021

The Rocky Mountain Youth Entrepreneur Series created by University of Wyoming Extension 4-H educators to help youths develop local food businesses launches with its first meeting in March.

Educators involved in the project are Kellie Chichester, in Niobrara County; Joddee Jacobsen, in Natrona County; Glenn Owings, in Teton County; and Mary Louise Wood, in Albany County.

The series is free and open to all youths ages 14 to senior in high school, and is a combination of in-person and online meetings. They do not have to be currently enrolled in 4-H but will be enrolled if they plan to participate.

“We began to kick around the idea of it informally,” Chichester says of how the program originated. “We keep hearing this buzzword of entrepreneurship and youth entrepreneurship, and we felt like we had an opportunity to do something.”

The opening of applications for the John P. Ellbogen Foundation grant provided the boost needed to get this project put together, Chichester says.

The team applied and received $6,860.

This two-year project is designed to help youths learn about vision and mission statements; research the food truck, community supported agriculture and farmers market industries; design their companies; and think through a product and service plan.

The second year will dig into market analysis; competitive analysis; an operational plan to include finances, growth and contingency; and wrap up with a capstone project.

“Our idea is unique because we are looking at the kid with the germ of the idea,” Jacobsen says. The program helps them go through the steps and think through the entire business plan, from financials to marketing to their names.

Youths are limited to either developing a food truck, farmers market stand or farm stand, Jacobsen says.

“They have to go step-by-step-by-step and really develop the plan,” she says.

The series also is designed for youths who may not have business ideas yet, Wood says.

“So many of our 4-H kids already have a project, so why not take it that next step and market it?” Wood says. “Or, at least learn it and then apply that to a different part of their life.”

The program is set up in an experiential learning model to allow youths to do, reflect and apply.

“A lot of things are just doing, and that’s where it stops, because they haven’t reflected on it, or make some changes and apply it in a different area,” Wood says.

She says the series will help youths develop groundwork to create businesses that may not just be for the summer, but something they take with them while they are in college or even longer.

Jacobsen hopes this project will help youths think through the issues that may come up with a business, such as what happens when things go wrong, the idea outlives its usefulness, or competitors enter the market.

“It gives them the skills to make connections with community partners they need and maybe help them develop some of those business skills, bookkeeping skills and things like that,” Owings says.

Participation is expected at all scheduled dates throughout the year. To register, go here.

For more information, call Chichester at (307) 334-3534 or email kelliec@uwyo.edu.

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