NetWork Kansas concluded the local-level of the 2016-2017 Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC) Series on March 22 with a record twenty-one community entrepreneurship competitions. The YEC Series consists of local-level youth entrepreneurship competitions hosted by volunteers. The goal of the competition is to expose Kansas middle school and high school students to entrepreneurship and to give students hands-on experience thinking entrepreneurially. Twenty-one local events in Kansas cities and counties will culminate in a state championship hosted at Fort Hays State University on April 24, 2017.
More E-Communities participated than in any of the three previous seasons, making this year the biggest and best YEC series yet. A total of 454 students from forty schools in 24 counties across Kansas participated in the competition series.
In western Kansas, there were eight local competitions held this season. At these eight events, 161 students from fourteen schools competed for $15,950 of total prize money. Goodland’s competition was the first of this year’s series, taking place on November 30, 2016 with fifteen student competitors. The winner of that competition was Jade Artzer with her currently operating business, Made by Jade. Artzer has won her local competition several years in a row and continues to make improvements on her business.
Ford County’s event took place February 22 with eight students, and the winners were siblings Canyon and Amber Laskowsky with Dodge City Aerial Photography, a photography business using drones. Packages could be applied to insurance or real estate purposes, making this idea incredibly useful. The next day, Wichita County held their competition with four students competing, and it was won by Abby Ridder and Abbey Fischer with Heart to Heart Home Care. Thomas County, Bird City, and Norton County all held competitions on March 1. Christian Calliham and his business, CT Feeds, a former regional winner, won the Thomas County competition out of 64 students this year. Bird City’s winner was Kaylynn Hendricks with Hendrick’s Hens, and Norton County’s winner was Harrison Woodyard’s concept, Silo Chains by Harrison. Woodyard is making handmade jewelry out of copper and silver, which started as a gift for his grandmother, and now he is selling it at a local flower shop. Eighteen students participated in Bird City’s competition and 31 students participated in Norton County’s.
Rooks County’s competition took place March 15 with eight students. Their winning team consisted of Macie LeMarr, Colten Wiesner, and Kobe Spiess with their business idea, Cardinal Corn. Phillips County had the last competition of the season on March 22 and their winner was Tatum Bartels with her business concept, Motion Emotions. Phillips County had thirteen students participating. Out of the eight local competitions, Ford and Norton counties were starting out in their first year.
"After organizing this event several times and watching it grow and gain interest each year, I am amazed and impressed at the ideas that are presented from the participants. It is important for us as a community to plant the entrepreneurial seed so that the businessperson spirit can develop. I am certain that we will see some of these ideas become viable business ventures," says Suzanne McClure, Director of Goodland Area Economic Development.
The western/central Kansas combined event was hosted in Jetmore and consisted of Stafford, Hodgeman, Edwards, and Ness Counties. This event, in its second year, had 20 students from three different schools compete for $1,750 in prizes. The winner of the event was Sailor-Anne Seiler with her business concept, The Traveling Trunk.
Communities in central Kansas hosted six local events, with 106 students from eleven schools competing for $8,750 in prizes. Chautauqua County’s event took place March 1 in Sedan with five students competing. Their winner was Jadden Roggow with J Engraving. At the Reno County competition on March 6, the youngest entrepreneur of this season was ten-year-old Kyler Seck, who operates his own beekeeping business. He won $100 in the junior division. Their senior division winner was Kaylee Guffey with her current business, Hanging Around, which sells handcrafted hangers for weddings and other special events. Republic County also hosted a competition on March 6 and their winner was Jentry McGregor with No Place Like Home Pet Sitting. Reno and Republic counties both debuted new competitions this year and had a wonderful turnout, both with eleven student teams competing. Marion County’s event took place the next day on March 7 with 21 students. Their competition winner was Jonathan Hinerman and Nathan Simhiser with Arrow Grilling. Hoisington held their event on March 9 with five students. Their winners were Jaci Schremmer and Kyle Lang with their concept, Eco Sno Cones. Cowley County’s event was the last of the region on March 15, and their winner was Izzy Amezcua with Too Fit to Quit. 34 students competed in that event.
In eastern Kansas, 20 students from five schools competed in three local competitions. Prizes totaled $9,250 across the region. Cherokee County’s competition took place on March 1. This competition is in its third year and has grown each year since inception and seven students competed this year. Their winner was senior Max Pierce, a returning competitor, with his concept, BuildLure. Pierce plans to manufacture custom-made fishing lures using 3D printing. Leavenworth County held their event on March 10 and featured elevator pitches in an actual elevator for a fun twist. Seven students competed. The winner of the competition was Mateo Rosales with MobiFix. The last event of this region was Clay County’s competition on March 16 with six student competitors. Courtney Sherbert won with her concept, Courtney’s Farm Fresh Eggs. The only new competition this year was the Growing Leavenworth County YEC.
“With this serving as my first year being involved with YEC, I was impressed and inspired with the caliber of ideas and the professionalism of all of the students participating in the local youth fairs,” says Shelley Paasch, Manager of Eastern Kansas Rural Entrepreneurship for NetWork Kansas. Paasch served as a judge at all of the local competitions in her region.
Three new competitions were held in Riley County and Salina. Salina hosted a fall event and a spring event. Out of these three events, seven schools were represented by 147 students competing for a total of $5,100 in prizes. Salina’s fall event winner was Ethan Brown with Ability Apparel and their spring winner was Emery Newton with Effervescent. Newton is already operating this business, which makes its own bath products using essential oils. 87 students competed in the fall and 37 students competed in the spring. At Riley County’s competition on March 14, their winner was Bridget Stanton with Bridge Digital Marketing. 23 students competed in this event.
The first place business idea at each local YEC Series competition, plus fourteen wildcard slots, qualifies to compete at the state championship, where $11,000 of prize money is on the table. Students who participated in a local YEC competition and who want to compete at state must submit their application and executive summary by March 31. Wildcards contestant slots will be selected and students notified around April 10.
For questions about the YEC Series or Entrepreneurship (E-) Community Partnership, contact Anne Dewvall, Manager of E-Communities, at 316-425-7059 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit www.youtheshipchallenge.com for more information on the upcoming state championship.