June 17, 2024

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Generation Schools Network and Ogallala Commons host a youth entrepreneurship fair at Wiggins Middle and High School on Tuesday, April 26. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

A group of junior and senior students from Prairie High School discuss their business, Stich-N-Stangs Custom Apparel. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

A student from Brush Middle School explains his business, River Side Hunts, to entrepreneur JC Richardson. (Courtesy photo)

Wiggins' seventh-grade students Samara Johnson, Anna Weimer, London Dunham, Marlie Castillo and Taylor Hollis (left to right) were included in the top five finalists for the middle school category for their business entitled The Babysittrs. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Wiggins high schoolers Aubryn Ferguson, Addie Mayer and Makayla O’Patik (left to right) pitch The Soothe Bar to the judges. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Laque Premo, an eighth-grade student at Wiggins Middle School, answers questions about the western-style jewelry she made for her NOCO Jewelry Shoppe business. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

On her poster, Laque Premo, the founder of NOCO Jewelry Shoppe, includes the price for both the creation of each project and the price for which she sells her product. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Juniors and seniors from Prairie High School pitch their business, Stich-N-Stangs Custom Apparel, to six judges. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Platte Valley Middle School student Maveric Campbell, the creator of Homestyle Carpentry, shows judges how one of his wooden pens can be refilled with ink once it runs dry. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Nevaeh Tolentino, a junior at Brush High School, answers questions about her wedding planning business called To Have and To Hold. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Austin Ley from Brush Middle School pitches Camera Box to five judges in a "Shark Tank"-style presentation. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Camera Box, a business created by Brush Middle School student Austin Ley, won first place in the middle school category. Ley was awarded a $1,500 prize to put towards his business. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Sophomore Tayla Wiedeman from Eaton High School answers questions about Shepherd Services. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Shae Stone, a sophomore at Eaton High School, pitches S = Cattle Company Embryo Services. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Josh and JC Richardson, brothers who started a company called Angel Armor, were guest speakers at the entrepreneur fair. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Middle school finalists (left to right) include: Austin Ley (Camera Box), Maveric Campbell (Homestyle Carpentry), Laque Premo (NOCO Jewelry Shoppe), Marlie Castillo, London Dunham, Anna Weimer, Taylor Hollis and Samara Johnson (The Babysittrs), Gabe Andrews and Jackson Bauer (SNKR Sleeves). (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

For the high school category, business finalists (left to right) include: Stich-N-Stangs Custom Apparel, The Soothe Bar, To Have and To Hold, Shepherd Services, S = Cattle Company Embryo Services. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

From left to right: Tayla Wiedeman (Shepherd Services), Austin Ley (Camera Box) and Shae Stone (S = Cattle Company Embryo Services) were each awarded a check for $1,000 or more to dedicate towards the future of their businesses. (Katie Roth/The Fort Morgan Times)

Generation Schools Network (GSN) and Ogallala Commons hosted a youth entrepreneurship fair at Wiggins Middle and High School on Tuesday, April 26. Students from schools in both Morgan and Weld counties participated.
“Generation Schools Network co-creates relationships with schools and comes alongside them to provide assistance wherever they most need it. There are a lot of schools and districts and students that don’t have as many opportunities as they do in more urban areas. (We are) able to offer equitable and accessible solutions to rural communities that may not have that access if they did it independently. We chose Wiggins because it is centrally located between our Morgan County and our Weld County schools,” said GSN Senior Manager of College and Career Readiness Elliot Zettas. “Entrepreneurship is extremely important for students. It’s a great way for them to learn about themselves and also learn about other businesses and what is lacking within their own communities.”
A total of 21 middle school students or student groups entered their business ideas into the competition, and 13 high school students or student groups did the same.
“This gives them an opportunity to have other people, who are not part of the (Platte Valley Middle School) community, view and judge (their projects). (They’re able to) get feedback and able to look at other people’s projects. Any time you can get kids out of a school setting and more into a real-world situation, it’s awesome,” said Platte Valley Middle School (PVMS) Gifted and Talented teacher Kristi Weiner.
Judges spent the morning asking each participant questions about their business idea before choosing five finalists. Middle school judges included Andrew Steib, Doug Palmer, Shelby Clark, Steve Lutes and Josh Gibbs. High school judges included Bob Der, Daquan Oliver, Elinor Brown, Rene Nava, Jodi Walker and Tricia Vincent.
Josh and JC Richardson, brothers and entrepreneurs were guest speakers as the judges deliberated finalists. The Richardsons created a body and vehicle armor company called Angel Armor, which was a business created with law enforcement officers, first responders and the military in mind.
They spoke about their experience creating a business, appealing to customers, innovating and keeping core values (perseverance, humility, action, integrity) close throughout the process. The Richardsons were excited to see all of the creative middle and high school students who already have an interest in being entrepreneurs.
“It’s just been really special to walk around and see all the projects and all the effort that’s put in. It’s very difficult to be an entrepreneur and to come up with a business idea and to really formulate a plan to be an entrepreneur and start a successful business,” said Josh Richardson as he addressed the participants. “It is so encouraging for JC and I to be here and to see the thinking and the mindset that each one of you have about a product and a business. Be encouraged by today.”
After speaking to participants, JC Richardson explained why attending this event was so important to him and his brother.
“We’re just so excited to empower the next generation to be able to fulfill their God-given gifts and talents,” he said. “We were so encouraged with what we saw today. Along with providing encouragement to the next generation, we’ve been through a lot (by) starting a business. So I think passing along encouragement and the things we’ve learned along the way… we feel like it’s our responsibility.”
Then, the finalists were announced.
Middle school finalists included: Austin Ley (Camera Box), Maveric Campbell (Homestyle Carpentry), Laque Premo (NOCO Jewelry Shoppe), Marlie Castillo, London Dunham, Anna Weimer, Taylor Hollis and Samara Johnson (The Babysittrs), Gabe Andrews and Jackson Bauer (SNKR Sleeves).
High school finalists included: Chevelle Price, Maverik Mertens, Isaac Doll, Andy Long, Brock Dollerschell, David Long, Gabe Oldewage, Kaydence Fraser and David Speicher (Stich-N-Stangs Custom Apparel), Makayla O’Patik, Aubryn Ferguson and Addie Mayer (The Soothe Bar), Nevaeh Tolentino (To Have and To Hold), Tayla Wiedeman (Shepherd Services), Shae Stone (S = Cattle Company Embryo Services).
As finalists went one by one to pitch their business ideas to judges in a separate room, other participants were able to hear from a few more guest speakers before winners were announced.
Of the 10 business finalists, eight were awarded with prize money.
For the middle school category, Campbell from PVMS was awarded $750 for his Homestyle Carpentry wooden pen business, and Premo from Wiggins MS was also awarded $750 to help grow her NOCO Jewelry Shoppe business.
Ley from Brush Middle School took home the first place prize of $1,500 for his Camera Box security camera protection business.
For the high school category, To Have and To Hold (Tolentino from Brush High School) and Stich-N-Stangs Custom Apparel (group from Prairie High School) both received $250.
The Soothe Bar (Wiggins High School) was awarded with $500.
S = Cattle Company Embryo Services (Stone) and Shepherd Services (Wiedeman), both from Eaton High School, tied for first place and received $1,000 each to grow their businesses.
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