Lincoln County youths put their creative ideas to the test at the second annual Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.
“I think that the students just did an all around great job researching the idea, coming up with financial numbers, and they presented everything very well,” said Kelly Larson, Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director.
The event, which was March 5, challenged local high school students to develop a sustainable business idea. A panel of judges, including local business owners and bankers, scored each students’ projects.
“Being a judge has been enjoyable, to be able to see our area youth put together these business ideas,” said Bree McReynolds-Baetz, who has judged both years. “Some of them are very interesting and well thought-out.”
Lincoln High School students Libby Husky and Cassie Aleshire received first place with their idea of a hydroponics business pertaining to growing vegetables and other plants.
Sylvan-Lucas Unified High School student Aundrea Haberer took home second place with her greenhouse business Nature Sense.
Runners up included Delaney Herold, Taegen Walter, Bailey Evans and Kylie Rahmeier, also of SLUHS, with the idea Hempsies, a business aimed at selling hemp-based products.
In addition, LHS student Aubry Donley was named a runner-up with her idea Double D Jagds, which focuses on selling Jagdterrier puppies.
Husky and Aleshire have the opportunity to compete at the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge in Manhattan at Kansas State University on April 30 with their idea, Larson said.
Other students who participated in the local challenge are encouraged to apply to compete at the state level, Larson said.
Students began working on their ideas at the beginning of the spring semester, said Lincoln Junior-Senior High School business teacher Nikki Flinn.
Flinn, who assisted students with their projects, said participants had to prepare three different elements for the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, which included a four-minute presentation, trade show and executive show.
“We start with the executive summary and I break each part of it up into small chunks to work on at a time,” Flinn said. “The whole project can be a bit overwhelming when you look at it as a whole, but doing it in pieces tends to make it a little more manageable for our students. As the students complete pieces of it, I will look it over and recommend changes and we continue to do this until we get it as good as we possibly can.”
Flinn said this project is beneficial for students because it shows them what they are capable of.
“Sometimes when you get projects that big it can be overwhelming to students, but when preparing for college they need to know their capabilities and how successful they can be,” Flinn said.
“Also, I hope they look at at business as a good avenue to start a career and some of the students usually have some realistic businesses that could happen. If that is a dream of the students, hopefully they realize they can achieve that.”
Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge judge Gwen Knight said she was impressed with students who took part in the challenge.
“Their research and zeal to create and present a mock business plan amazes me,” she said. “They came up with unique business options that could easily become reality in Lincoln County over the next few years.”
McReynolds-Baetz said she thinks this challenge is valuable for Lincoln County youth.
“Knowing how to write a business plan, account for expenses and think through the process is so important,” she said. “The chances are pretty high that at some point in their lives, they will need these skills, whether they start their own business, run a homebased business. So this is a great opportunity for them to gain some knowledge of the process before it would be applied to a real life situation.”
With the success of the past two local challenges, Larson said hopefully another event will be held next year.
“From my conversation with some of the students during the day and asking them what they thought about this whole challenge, I think, for the most part, all of them said they really enjoyed it,” she said.
By Hailey Dixon for the Lincoln Sentinel