Young entrepreneurs recognized by governor at Centre College
Gov. Steve Beshear shakes hands with Boyle County High School freshman John Daniel and Danville High School junior Alivia Harris of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy following a press conference Thursday in the Isaac Shelby Room at Old Centre on the campus of Centre College. (Clay Jacksonemail@example.com / December 21, 2012)
The local program was the first in the state, which prompted the press conference attended by Beshear and YEA! Executive Director Heather Forbes, who was thrilled to be in Kentucky, despite the bad weather.
“It’s been wonderful,” she said. The program is now being implemented in other schools around the state, which Forbes said had been “exciting” to see.
Beshear echoed those sentiments, adding that he knows entrepreneurship is the future of Kentucky.
“To see these kids at this age, already really excited about this ... that says so much about where we are going as a state,” Beshear said. He encouraged the students to consider companies such as Apple computers or Google, which were begun by entrepreneurs who followed their ideas into fruition.
“They were just like you,” he said, “They made it happen.”
YEA!, which began nationally in 2004, gives the students hands-on experience in running a business. They create business ideas, write plans, conduct research and pitch ideas, leaving the program with an actual business in place.
It also pairs the middle and high school students with small business owners as their instructors. This is credited for having a major impact on the program, because the students are working with individuals who truly understand what it means to run a business.
“We’ve made so much progress. They’re like a sponge,” Ken Harmon, one of the instructors said. He stressed that the children want to be at the classes, and that makes a big difference.
According to Forbes, there is a very rigorous application process to be entered into YEA!, which helps assure the students who are there are the ones who want to be.
The event was also attended by administrators from Danville and Boyle County schools, where the students attend. Acknowledging the YEA! program in these schools is something Bate Middle Principal Amy Galloway said they were more than happy to do.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said. Galloway stressed that these are skills they strive to teach in and out of the classroom.
Despite all of these people, none were prouder than the parents lining the room.
“It’s a really good opportunity that you don’t get in the school curriculum,” said Roger Daniel, who’s son John is a ninth-grader at Boyle County and is a member of the program. Daniel expressed how competent and relatable the instructors are, certain that this positively impacted what the students are learning.
Ed Cortez, the father of Kimberly Cortez, a participant in the program and a senior at Boyle County High School, said he is impressed with the program and what it is teaching his daughter. With the lessons she is learning in the YEA! courses, he said, she now “can conquer anything.”
Kimberly Cortez has partnered with other students, working together on their project to create a line of aluminum bottles, the proceeds of which will go to benefit others in Third World countries where they don’t have access to clean water. She admitted that the program was completely unlike what she had anticipated when she first signed up. However, when she started, she realized just what it meant to be included.
“It’s a great honor to be chosen” she said, explaining that she originally thought she was taking a college course, so this was “much more in-depth” than she anticipated.