Tag Archives: entrepreneurial

4-H’ers catch the entrepreneurial spirit raising show pigs

I’d like to share this great story with you that appeared in the March 2013 issue of Michigan Farmer. It focuses on two young 4-H’ers who with determination and hard work created a family business raising show pigs. Jacob and Wyatt Boyd convinced their parents Scot and Nikki, who own their own excavation and general contracting business, to expand their entrepreneurial skills into livestock.

But the boys didn’t just sit back and watch it happen. They worked hard to help build housing for the pigs. They read up on the subject, attended a Michigan State University clinic put on by MSU Extension 4-H program leader Jake DeDecker and visited World Hog Expo in Iowa.

They continue to work hard each day, earning a profit on the business. Read the article here:

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Extension educator chosen to speak at alternative high graduation

Sara Keinath, Michigan State University Extension educator in Wexford County, was the keynote speaker at Cooley High’s graduation. Cooley is Cadillac’s alternative high school and a place where Sara has taught “Going Solo” youth entrepreneur training for two years in partnership with the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce.

 Given the chance to choose the person to speak at their graduation, the students chose Sara. In addition to teaching the youth important life skills, she developed a meaningful and special relationship with them. Honored to accept the invitation, she provided graduates with a short but motivational message on the importance of setting goals for themselves.

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Filed under Entrepreneurial

Kids use garbage to learn and serve

Deb Gierke, Schoolcraft County Michigan State University Extension program instructor, knows a lot about garbage. In fact, kids at the CloverKid College summer day camp have crowned her the Garbage Goddess – complete with a cardboard crown and throne. 

Says Deb, “It’s not a title I aspired to, but I’ve earned it.”

 Deb has worked with garbage – and kids – for years. She was able to take that expertise and use it to get kids involved in social entrepreneuring.

 Last January, a Social Entrepreneurship 4-H Participation Fee Grant helped to cover her attendance at a 4-H Citizenship, Leadership and Service conference at Kettunen Center. At the conference, participants learned how to identify social issues and find resources to address those issues. Deb was already working with youth on recycling issues and the conference added to her enthusiasm and gave her more ideas to work with.

 With her help and the help of adult and teen volunteers during 4-H school enrichment at Emerald Elementary and CloverKid College day-camp programming, 350 area youth successfully completed the 6-Rs Activity Series: Be Respectful, Responsible and Resourceful, and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Each member who participated received an “I R a StaR” award.

 Classroom and camp participants collected trash, weighed it and charted their collection totals. They then prepared the garbage for recycling or reuse by cleaning and sorting it.

 Deb notes that the youth themselves noticed that people generate a lot of garbage, but there are not a lot of recycling options in the Upper Peninsula. The kids decided to convert the trash they collected into treasure. Under the kids’ creative hands, a pop can tab became a pet snake, a toilet paper roll became a decorative hair tie and old jeans became backpacks. The youth took part in a “Trash Fash” activity in which they converted paper, plastic and fabric recyclables into fashion T-shirts and hats. The young people became entrepreneurs, creating a business called R&R (Recycle and Reuse) Creations and selling their transformed trash at the school and the day camp.

 All proceeds from the sales went to two local organizations: Project Backpack, which outfits at-risk youth with school bags filled with all the necessary supplies, and the Voices for Youth transitional living home.

 In addition, teen counselors in the summer camp created community awareness by developing a brochure that identified local recycling options. Information about local recyclers was also distributed in Friday school-to-home folders at the elementary school, on the free public television channel and in the local paper. The information distribution made people aware of local recycling centers and consequently brought them more business.

 Youth learned about respecting the environment, managing a business, helping the community and each other while having fun at the same time. They successfully integrated entrepreneurship with service learning and the results benefited the kids as well as the community. And according to Deb, both she and the kids continue to learn.

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4-H club runs business at MSU Tollgate Farm

Michigan State University Extension Oakland County Sun, Water and Seeds 4-H Club has been growing and selling vegetables as part of the 4‑H Youth Gardens and Farm Stands Project at Michigan State University’s Tollgate Farm, part of the MSU Tollgate Education Center in Novi. The kids, who range in age from 8 to 16, are not only learning about agriculture and nutrition, but also about the details of running a business. Volunteer coordinator, Mary Hutka, leads the group. It’s a great mix of farming and entrepreneurship. Read more about the group in this Hometownlife.com article: http://www.hometownlife.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20109020457

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4-H entrepreneurship wins big at Generation E Showcase

Michigan 4-H members work each year at their projects, trying new things and looking for ways to improve them. This year 4-H members in Barry County took their project experience to another level as a part of a new and innovative “Dinner Homegrown and Creative Creations” entrepreneurship series. And it really paid off for the participating youth.

 Using Generation E materials, participants ages 10–14 worked with 4-H program associate Kathy Pennington and volunteers Mary Guy and Samantha Harthy to develop businesses through completion of product development, creating a business plan, creating a financial plan and developing marketing tools. “Dinner Homegrown” builds on the tradition of 4-H livestock education and contributes to the local foods movement. “Creative Creations” directs the imagination and ingenuity of youth toward businesses not in the agriculture sector.

Business start-ups include; “Eli’s Enterprises,” handmade stepping stones using recycled materials; “Two Brothers Poultry,” fancy show birds and market broilers for sale; “Emily’s Handcraft Jewelry”; “Shepard Dog Treats”; “Honey Lips – It’s the Balm,” homemade natural lip balm from the family bee hive; “Healthy Hands,” natural homemade hand lotion; “Teeters & Totters” babysitting service and “Spark the Bark” dog training service.

 On May 18, six of the eight businesses that were started participated in the Generation E Showcase at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. There were 80 middle school and high school businesses entered in the showcase from the surrounding area. Of the six businesses that Barry County 4-H entered, three of them placed in the competition: “Eli’s Enterprises,” owned by Elijah Evans; “Two Brothers Poultry,” owned by partners Ben and Zach Drach and “Honey Lips,” owned by Miah Grassmid. Each received awards for outstanding achievement, which included a monetary stipend.

In Michigan’s current economic conditions, it’s great to know we have programs like this that encourage youth to explore starting a business, providing the necessary education and support for them to learn the risks and rewards.

And by the way, the youth will be selling their goods and services throughout the summer. Contact the Barry County Michigan State University Extension office at 269-945-1388 for their business information.

 For more information on the Generation E Showcase, visit http://www.genei.org/Showcase-2010/showcase.html

Eli's Enterprises

Two Brothers Poultry

Honey Lips

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Filed under 4-H, Awards, Entrepreneurial

As the worm turns a profit

As an angler, I can really appreciate one of the newest Michigan 4-H pilot projects to be funded by a 4-H Participation Fee pilot grant – worm farms. The 18 counties selected to participate in “The Dirt on Profiting from Worm Farming” pilot project will be creating 4-H worm farm businesses and entrepreneurship clubs and/or adding value to existing gardening projects with vermicomposting.

 If you like to fish, you know that traditional bait stores usually package their worms in used, non-recyclable plastic containers, but these pilot clubs will package their worms in eco-friendly “green” containers. Some of these clubs will raise and sell their worms for another eco-friendly use: vermicomposting (using worms to “recycle” kitchen waste by turning it into a natural composting material).

 On March 19–21, 2010, one adult and one youth from each of the 18 pilot counties attended the 4-H Environmental and Outdoor Education and Plant Science Workshop held at Kettunen Center where they received the educational instruction and materials needed to start their 4-H worm farm businesses and entrepreneurship clubs. Brad Morgan, owner of Morgan Composting located in Sears, Mich., and his son, Jeremie Morgan, are worm farm experts who demonstrated the care and keeping of worms. Laura Allen, Michigan State University Extension career/entrepreneurship education coordinator, covered the entrepreneurship education pieces. Brad and Jeremie are very passionate about sustainable agriculture and the need for youth to be educated about entrepreneurship. Laura is thrilled to see such a great response to this new project that blends kids’ love of the environment and gardening with entrepreneurship. She also loves that the green aspects of the project help make our world a better place. A new worm farming session will be part of the 4-H Business and Entrepreneurship Expo during 4-H Exploration Days. Who knows? These young entrepreneurs may be the top Michigan business leaders of the future. For more information, contact Laura Allen at lacourse@msu.edu.

EOE Workshop demonstration
Jeremie Morgan of Morgan Composting demonstrates how baby worm cocoons are hatched for workshop participants.

 Counties are recruiting participants and will be starting their worm farm clubs sometime this month. Congratulations to the following counties that were each awarded a worm farm grant: Alcona, Allegan, Antrim, Berrien, Crawford, Delta, Eaton, Ionia, Jackson, Mackinac, Macomb, Midland, Monroe, Montcalm, Ontonagon, Saginaw, Schoolcraft and Tuscola.


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Product Center names Thelen and Birbeck Innovation Counselors of the Year

Congratulations to Matt Birbeck and Marilyn Thelen for being named Innovation Counselors of the Year by the Michigan State University Product Center. The two were praised for their good work during the Making It in Michigan conference, Nov. 11, 2009 at the Lansing Center.

Innovation Counselors are professionals from MSU and partnering organizations who are strategically positioned around Michigan to guide entrepreneurs as they make critical decisions about market opportunities and business and product development.

Thelen, who is also the Clinton County Extension direction director, and Birbeck, a supply chain specialist, both have outstanding records of working with business startups in their areas. Please join me in congratulating them.

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Ionia County’s World Wide Kids 4-H Club learns about finance while tackling hunger, poverty

It’s easy to find opportunities for youth to contribute to their own communities. One of the great things about Michigan 4-H is that it helps youth spread their wings and learn about the world beyond their county, state and national borders.

In Ionia county, volunteer 4-H leader Judy Huynh, developed a model service learning project for her World Wide Kids 4-H club. Recently, the club hosted an international dinner that raised more than $800 for Heifer International. The funds were used to purchase rabbits, chickens, a water buffalo, a goat, a sheep and a pig for families around the world in hopes of alleviating hunger and poverty through sustainable and ecologically sound agricultural practices.

If that isn’t enough, the club branched out to learn about global microfinance and entrepreneurship through Kiva, a micro-lending organization that connects potential lenders with entrepreneurs from around the world. World Wide Kids 4-H Club loaned $50 to a woman in Liberia who plans to open a rice store.

Wow! These kind of entrepreneurial projects, combined with the spirit of cooperation and education are a perfect example of successful 4-H programming.

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Filed under 4-H, Agriculture, Youth development

Cuppa Jo Java moves on

When I find a program that really captures what makes MSUE unique, I tend to tell the story of the program, perhaps a few too many times. One of those showcase items I’ve used many times is the story of Cuppa Jo Java, a coffee shop started and operated by 4-Hers in Rapid River, Mich., for more than five years. It’s a great example of youth learning about entrepreneurship, cooperation and many other life skills by doing something that enriches their formal education through 4-H.

Cuppa Jo Java SignLast week as we drove to Escanaba for our town hall meeting on Redesigning MSUE, we made a point of stopping for coffee at Cuppa Jo in Rapid River. I had heard that the shop had moved to US Highway 2, the main street through Rapid River, and did two passes through town before I saw the sign informing us that it was back in its original building, a few blocks off the highway. We found our way back to the original building, went in to order, and found not a 4-H youth, but rather a grown man serving behind the counter (is a male coffee server a baristo or a barista? Who’s an expert on Italian grammar?). It turns out the 4-H club sold Cuppa Jo to a private business.

After getting over the shock and disappointment, I realized that this is still a great story about 4-H. Anyone who goes through the trials and tribulations of a business startup, can operate for six years (with a complete turnover in staff and board of directors) and then turn around and sell the business at no loss is definitely a success. I’m STILL going to use this story in helping people to understand the power of MSU Extension and 4-H.

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Filed under 4-H, professional development, Uncategorized

Young entrepreneurs form Montcalm cooperative

How often do you walk around a fair grounds or spring achievement and think, “wow! There are some really talented 4-Hers out there!” It happens to me all the time. That’s why I was interested in hearing about the new 4-H Market Shack in Montcalm County—a cooperative of young entrepreneurs who will pool their textiles, crafts, artwork, non-perishable foods, plants, flowers and services together and offer them for sale during the county fair.

This fabulous concept not only gives young artists an opportunity to sell their work, it also teaches financial skills, cooperation and management. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what the group has to offer. If it’s successful at the fair, the group may test the waters at local farm markets and festivals later in the season.

Kudos to Pat Dignum, 4-H educator, and the volunteers who are inspiring young people to be creative and profitable!

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Filed under 4-H, Economic development, Youth development