Tag Archives: entrepreneurs

East Tawas welcomes MSU Extension’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference

This year’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference took place in East Tawas, Michigan, Oct. 8-9, and welcomed more than 120 individuals into the community to learn about the best way to encourage entrepreneurship in Michigan. Michigan State University Extension has been involved in helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses for many years. We created the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities program in Michigan approximately eight years ago in an effort to educate communities on the various tools and resources available to help them help entrepreneurs grow in their communities.

The interesting thing about the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference when compared to other conferences is that each of the breakout sessions took place in various businesses throughout the community. This gave the attendees a chance to experience the entrepreneurial spirit in that community as well as the valuable lessons taught by the session leaders.

According to Frank Gublo, Michigan State University Extension educator, “East Tawas really wanted to make this something, and the local people promoted it and helped work to get people out to it, and the local enthusiasm from the people in the town was beyond anything we’ve seen before.”

To add to the excitement, colleagues from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension attended with the purpose of launching a multi-state collaboration between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and Michigan State University Extension. We hope that both programs can learn a lot from each other as we move forward in this partnership!

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Making It in Michigan Conference opportunity for food and agricultural entrepreneurs

One of the themes of the year for Michigan has been that there is tremendous opportunity for economic development in food processing and other value-added activities that build on Michigan’s unique and diverse agricultural economy. It began with a white paper produced by Drs. Bill Knudson, Steven Miller and Chris Peterson of the Michigan State University Product Center, which caught the attention of Governor Rick Snyder and his administration. That led to an industry summit in April that focused attention on steps that could enhance development of new enterprises and expansion of existing ones in the food sector. The MSU Product Center already sponsors an important event that promotes opportunities for food businesses in Michigan, the Making It in Michigan conference. The conference takes place Oct. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. Please help spread the word about this extremely important event.

 The conference targets food and agricultural entrepreneurs who are just starting out as well as those well established in the food industry. The event offers educational sessions and the opportunity for entrepreneurs to put their products in front of hundreds of buyers at the Marketplace Trade Show. Attendees who have an idea that they may want to develop and take to market have direct access to MSU Product Center team members.

 The MSU Product Center was established in spring 2003 with funds from AgBioResearch and Michigan State University Extension to improve economic opportunities in the Michigan agriculture, food and natural resource sectors. Project GREEEN also provides funding.

Chris Peterson, Nowlin Chair for Consumer-Responsive Agriculture in the Department of Agricultural Economics at MSU, is the center’s director. Watch the following video in which Chris talks about the services that the Product Center offers, which range from developing an idea to testing the product to sustaining and growing the product’s sales.

In this following video, Scott Below, owner of LOL Ventures, talks about how the Product Center and Mark Thomas, innovation counselor for the Product Center, gave him the “straight scoop” about improving his business.

 The Making It in Michigan Conference is the ideal event for those looking for resources for their food and agricultural businesses or who have products that they want to showcase.

 Westborn Market is sponsoring a competition for vendors to win a year’s worth of shelf space at their stores. Watch the following video for details.

 Read more about the Making It in Michigan Conference here.

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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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B the ‘E’ goes to Barbados

In March 2008, two 4-H educators from the Caribbean island nation of Barbados, Zonia Phillips of 4-H and the Barbados Diabetes Association and Carmen Dardano de Newman of 4-H and food and nutrition officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, attended a one-day youth entrepreneurship training led by Sheila Urban Smith, Erica Tobe and Laura Allen. The two were so impressed that they asked for a training to be held in their country. Last week Laura Allen, Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development career education coordinator, and Sara Keinath, MSUE Wexford County 4-H/Youth Extension educator, taught 35 school teachers who are also 4-H Afterschool club leaders Be the “E” Entrepreneurship 4-H career education curriculum in Barbados. All of the teachers received a set of Be the “E” National 4-H curriculum. (Laura flew the curriculum there as her second piece of luggage. You know, if I had known, I would have been happy to come along to carry the luggage!) Laura and Sara’s two-day workshop on entrepreneurship was part of a 10-day training focused on “Using the Garden as a Teaching Tool” as part of the Nutrition/Food Security Master Garden Program in Barbados.

Carmen Dardano de Newman (left) & Zonia Phillips at 2008 training

 And you may remember in last’s week’s Spotlight, I mentioned that the New York Times Magazine covered Alexandra Reau, daughter of Brenda Reau Monroe County Extension educator and Mark Reau, who started her own business growing produce. As it happens,

The timing of this article could not have been better. Laura and Sara shared the story aloud in their class last Thursday. The teachers/4-H Afterschool club leaders and youth attending the workshop loved hearing Alexandra’s story and responded with cheers and applause. Given the topic of the workshop, you can imagine how inspiring this story was for the participants.

Sara Keinath (left) and Laura Allen in Barbados

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F3 ENERGY! gets kids excited about food, fitness, gardening and entrepreneurship

There are exciting things going on in Barry County. An innovative and interactive youth nutrition, gardening and entrepreneurship education program created and piloted last year through Barry County Michigan State University Extension by Laura Anderson, Extension educator, and Kathy Pennington, 4-H program associate, has legs going into the 2010 growing season. In 2009, F3 ENERGY! (Fundamental of Food and Fitness) provided 80 youth with nutrition and physical fitness education, a full-season gardening experience and entrepreneurial skills training. The youth had an opportunity to develop their own business and to sell produce to area restaurants or farm markets, to showcase their projects at the county fair and to offer outreach educational opportunities in areas such as food safety. Participants demonstrated an increase in knowledge and awareness of healthy food choices and an increase in knowledge of food safety and business skills. They even ate more healthy vegetables!

Funded by a 4-H Participation Fee Grant and by the Barry Community Foundation, Barry County United Way, Cargill Kitchen Solutions and other local funders, the program used research-based curricula such as “Be the E,” “JIFF” (Jump Into Food and Fitness), the 4-H Gardening series and “ERIB” (Eating Right is Basic). The program benefitted from the expertise of local partners such as restaurateurs and food scientists who widened the experience for the elementary school youth from the Nashville and Woodland areas who participated.

 The first garden site, Moo-ville Creamery, is to be expanded four-fold to three new sites for the 2010 growing season. Master Gardener volunteers Maribeth Secord and Peggy Higley have volunteered to step up to lead the project in Middleville and Delton, and elementary principal Judy Johnson will lead the Hastings project.

 F3 ENERGY! shows how creative programming can occur across disciplines and program areas in MSUE. Kudos to the Barry County MSU Extension team for working together on this successful program. View photos below and visit http://bit.ly/brqjg1 to learn more.

F3 ENERGY! youth enjoy working in their garden

Farmstand at Mooville Creamery set up and run by F3ENERGY! youth

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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