There was a bustling of innovative energy on the courthouse lawn this past Friday as youth entrepreneurs set up their business booths for the ESI Market Place event. As supportive family and community members filled the courthouse sidewalks, these young entrepreneurs showcased their unique products with smiling faces and prideful hearts. The creatively displayed booths represented the ideas and dreams of youth and our community leaders who possess an active hope for a vibrant future.
Active Hope is defined as being active participants in bringing about what we desire now and in the future. (Active Hope, Macy, Johnstone, Allen, 2012) With this concept in mind, the Valley County EntrepreneurShip Investigation (ESI) Camp was launched four years ago in an effort to inspire youth to use their talents and passions to create innovative, sustainable businesses and establish meaningful connections with community business leaders. Each year youth are challenged to develop their leadership, communication and entrepreneurial skills through creating business ventures during camp. As the camp has evolved so has the engagement of our youth within the community!
The powerful results of this year’s camp prove that active hope is alive and thriving in Valley County. Twenty-two youth participated in camp this year and collectively earned over $1,376.00 in profits during the Market Place event. Campers also participated in a community service project by giving their time and talent to make newcomer bags for the Ord Area Chamber to offer new people as they establish roots in our area. Over 25 local and national entrepreneurs, business leaders, educators, career consultants and professional advisors gave their time and talents to mentor the youth entrepreneurs and inspire them with innovative examples of how entrepreneurs can live their dreams and impact our world while enjoying the rich quality of life in rural Nebraska.
Excitedly, many of the youth entrepreneurs market their businesses beyond the camp by participating in the Ord Farmers Market, Valley County Entrepreneurship Fair, Nebraska State Fair ESI Market Place, Youth Entrepreneurship Showcase and community craft fairs throughout the year to expand their business skills, product development and customer base. Through these proactive activities our youth are developing sustainable businesses and intricate relationships with people which in turn create an avenue for pursuing their dreams as adults. With the strong connections to their hometowns we hope these youth will seize the abundant opportunities to live and work in Valley County.
Each year ESI Camp is brought to Valley County through a progressive partnership including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Valley County Community Foundation Fund, Valley County Economic Development Board, Ord Area Chamber of Commerce and the Valley County business community. Sponsoring partners also work closely with school systems to promote entrepreneurial leadership concepts and activities. Each partner brings a unique dynamic to the camp that contributes to the empowerment of our youth entrepreneurs and potential economic growth of Valley County.
According to the America’s Promise Alliance and the Gallup Student Poll (2010) initiative 50% of students polled are hopeful; 6 out of 10 students are hopeful they will find a good job when they graduate; 3 out of 10 students strongly agree they can find many ways around any problem; and 4 out of 10 students strongly agree they energetically pursue their goals. The study suggests that hope is malleable and that children can create more hope with the use of simple strategies and the intentional support of caring adults.
The Gallup Student Poll deems hope as the ideas and energy for the future and one of the most potent predictors of success for our youth! Through the continuous investment of developing progressive partnerships and state-of-the-art programming we can embrace active hope for the greater good of Valley County!