GUEST BLOGGER: CALLIE WARD
My 8-year-old son, who has a love of all animals and all things outdoors, was browsing an outdoor catalog when he found something that sparked his interest – the Fly Tyer’s Special. The bundle included cockerels that produce hackle feathers, which are used for tying flies. As we talked, we realized he could start a 4-H poultry project and sell the feathers, or he could take up fly tying and turn it into a small business. With an amazing 8-year-old mind tied in with an entrepreneurial spirit, we embarked on a youth-entrepreneurship opportunity!
Entrepreneurship is widely recognized as a driver of rural economic growth and community vitality. Its creation is crucial to the economic exuberance of all communities, especially those in rural locations. So, why not prepare our youth to be entrepreneurs?
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture notes that 4-H prepares youth for successful futures with a strong emphasis on the development of life skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, social skills, citizenship and leadership. These skills are fostered through educational programming grounded in the experiential learning model, better known as “learn by doing.” Through 4-H projects, youth can learn by solving problems, experimenting, replicating efforts and making mistakes.
How do we take it to the next step and make a 4-H project, hobby, or talent a youth entrepreneurship opportunity?
Often local producers and business owners can provide youth with the support to pursue their passion. This might include a financial investment, a donation (an unused sewing machine, supplies etc.), or volunteering time to educate or promote a project.
Once youth have learned by doing and are provided with support, they can transition into an opportunity for entrepreneurship by starting simply. For example, they could sell fresh-baked rolls door to door, sell produce at the farmers market, or go into the fly-tying business!
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