Ellbogen grants help UW Extension develop youth business aptitude, create hands-on community garden learning

University of Wyoming Extension educators will use two John P. Ellbogen Foundation grants to help youths start and develop local food businesses and in Rawlins develop a hands-on teaching garden.

The foundation seeks to cause or create change to benefit Wyoming citizens in support of science, education and charity, according to its website. Two $ 6,860 grants fund the projects.

The two-year entrepreneur series will help youths learn about vision and mission statements, research the food truck/Community Service Agriculture/farmers market industry, design their companies and think through a product and service plan. The second year will delve into market analysis, competitive analysis and an operational plan to include finances, growth and contingency and wrap up with a capstone project.

Extension educators in the project are Kellie Chichester in Niobrara County, Joddee Jacobsen in Natrona County and Mary Louise Wood in Albany County.

Educator Abby Perry in Carbon County will collaborate with six community partners to start a hands-on teaching garden in Rawlins at Soroptimist Park. Approximately 850 square feet of lawn will be replaced with the demonstration and research garden bed.

Planning, planting and maintaining the bed will be part of hands-on classes such as “how to design and plant a landscape” and “how to make your greenery winter ready.”

Course content will change for the seasons depending on clientele interests but will focus on the themes of pollinator planting, deer-resistance and Wyoming native plants.

Two raised beds will be established for weekly youth gardening classes with the potential to supplement Cent$ible Nutrition Program courses.

CNP is a cooking and nutrition program in UW Extension that serves families and individuals with limited resources in Wyoming.

Two other UW Extension projects started with Ellbogen grants enter phase 2.

The Niobrara County STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) will include in-person sessions each Friday morning the Niobrara County School District is in session. Topics provide experiential, hands-on interactive learning of lifelong skills such as leadership development, food safety, food science and preparation, career exploration and math and problem-solving skills. The target audience is youths ages 5-18.

Phase 2 of the Local Food Promotion: Planning and Piloting Wyoming Food Coalition project seeks to create three-year strategic plans and help develop local food system initiatives. These three-year plans are meant to strengthen local food systems so Wyoming producers, consumers and environments thrive.

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