The Rocky Mountain Youth Entrepreneur Series created by University of Wyoming Extension 4-H educators to help youths develop a local food business launches with its first meeting in March.
Educators involved in the project are Kellie Chichester in Niobrara County, Joddee Jacobsen in Natrona County, Mary Louise Wood in Albany County and Glenn Owings in Teton 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,” said Chichester, 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, shared Chichester.
The team applied and received $6,860 in funding.
This two-year project is designed to 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 dig into market analysis, competitive analysis and 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,” said Jacobsen. 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, shared Jacobsen.
“They have to go step-by-step-by-step and really develop the plan,” she said.
The series is also designed for youths who may not have a business idea yet, said Wood.
“So many of our 4-H kids already have a project, so why not take it that next step and market it?” said Wood. “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,” said Wood.
She said the series will help youths develop groundwork to create a business 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 like 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,” said Owings.
Participation is expected at all scheduled dates throughout the year. To register, visit http://bit.ly/RockyMountainYouthEntrepreneurship. For more information, contact Chichester at 307-334-3534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.