By: NetWork Kansas
Norton County hosted its second annual YEC Series event this November. Keli Habiger, Executive Director of Norton City/County Economic Development, shares how Norton County got exceptional community attendance.
· Working closely with schools
· Involving local entrepreneurs
· Promoting to the community
Keli believes working with local schools and students is vital. She spends time in the classroom once a week educating students about the process and working with them on their projects. In the high school, Keli holds working lunches with students and advises each team on improvements they could make to their executive summaries. She also spends time with teachers to provide support and guidance.
Local entrepreneurs are very involved with Norton students. Part of the students' learning process includes taking field trips to local businesses. Students are paired with businesses that are similar to them to get entrepreneurs involved as mentors. After the field trips, students send thank you's to the entrepreneurs and personally invite them to attend the YEC event.
Keli also organized a “Shark Tank” to get entrepreneurs involved. Students could participate in this optional part of the competition before the awards. Entrepreneurs were invited to be "sharks" and students pitched their business ideas to them for experience. A game plan and rules were sent ahead of time to entrepreneurs and teachers. A local attorney acted as a mediator to assist students in the learning process. Overall, the students and crowd really enjoyed this fun aspect of the day!
The event is promoted locally to get the community involved. Before the competition, the newspaper included an article about YEC on the front page three different times. Keli also utilizes Coffee Table, a free radio spot, for advertisement. She got radio coverage at her YEC competition through them. This competition is well publicized locally and had a lot of community members, not just parents and teachers, in attendance.
Lastly, Keli believes in organizing the day's schedule efficiently. "Having extra hands on deck is very helpful. Having people on hand to help with technology is a great idea," Keli says. If you plan to use Wi-Fi, Keli recommends having someone there to help in case it gets overloaded.
We hope you'll consider the takeaways from Norton County's planning process and find some inspiration for your own event!
Norton County Takeaways
· Provide guidance for students and teachers
· Involve local entrepreneurs in creative ways
· Advertising the event will create more community attendance
· Organization is important for an efficient schedule