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Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Series Best Practices: Sherman County

By: NetWork Kansas

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In November 2018, Sherman County hosted their sixth annual YEC Series event. Jessica Bonner, City of Goodland Administrative Assistant, and Suzanne McClure, City of Goodland Economic Development Director, organized this event. The Sherman County E-Community also worked closely with their NetWork Kansas Regional Manager, Simone Elder. Jessica shares with us how Sherman County organizes an incredibly successful event year-after-year.

Key components:

·       Engaging local entrepreneurs in mentor, judge, and guest speaker roles

·       Building a strong relationship with the teacher

·       Networking at and incorporating advice from the YEC Summit

Sherman County had 22 students involved in their local competition this year. They have one teacher, Chase Topliff, involved with this program and his students are required to compete for a grade. At the 2018 YEC Summit, Topliff was a panelist.

Both Jessica and Coach Topliff attended the YEC Summit, and Jessica says it was really helpful to have both of them there. Afterwards, they were able to work together to identify mentors for the students based on what they were learning at the time. Jessica contacted another one of the teacher panelists to get additional ideas for next season. Jessica also feels the planning timeline available online in the Portal has been a huge help.

In the beginning of the school year, Suzanne goes to the classroom to give an overview of the competition and talk about entrepreneurship to the students. She uses some of the anecdotes she uses as an Ice House facilitator to inspire them.

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Mentors, judges, and guest speakers were chosen from entrepreneurs in the community. Mentors were tailored to the lessons that the students were learning in class that week. For example, during lessons on financials, mentors included a Loan Officer from the local bank and a Financial Advisor from Edward Jones. One of the mentors also served as a judge.

Jessica had local entrepreneurs supply the food and signs for the event. Last year their featured guest speaker was someone from Goodland who had moved away and then returned and opened her own dance studio. This year it was the President of their local college, North West Kansas Technical College, who focused on the importance of staying rural.

The local community is well aware of the YEC event through sponsorship letters that are sent out, asking for sponsors and inviting attendance. Their social media page also invites the public to attend. The event is held at the local community building, which has a nice event space, and has been utilized for this competition for several years.

Sherman County has hosted a successful event for the sixth year in a row. The students’ businesses and ideas will lead to great things for the community!