West Virginia Executive Summer 2014 - Page 109

become involved in a year-round network of students dedicated to service,” says Dave Cooper, Horseshoe’s director. “All of this happens in a residential living situation where they also gain valuable experiences through sharing meals, living space and daily responsibilities and learn to build a self-sustaining community within the boundaries of Horseshoe.” The summit curriculum also includes several opportunities for its participants to meet and network with business owners and discover and develop their own interests and personalities. “I learned about business and being an entrepreneur and how to start and run a business, but that’s not all I learned,” says Jacob Morgan, a student at Grafton High School. “I also learned a lot about leadership and coming out of my comfort zone. The summit inspired me to be a leader and an entrepreneur and set goals. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience.” “The summit is open to any high school student and attracts some who are already involved in their own small business but also those who want to know more,” explains Wetsch. “The experiential nature of the summit attracts all types of students and gives them first-hand opportunities to work with new friends to create sample businesses, learn teamwork skills, overcome physical and mental challenges and visit successful small business locations.” Up to 160 teens—80 males and 80 females—can attend the annual conference. The cost to attend is $350, and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Businesses, organizations and individuals can also help cover costs by sponsoring a student. During this year’s summit, held June 8-14, students participated in a number of interactive, educational experiences. One hands-on activity was a mall simulation competition where small groups worked together to create, manage and market their own businesses within a short time frame. Attendees also participated in a day-long tour of the area, which included trips to local companies and a lunchtime talk with Matt Quattro, the mayor of Thomas, WV. “The off-site field trip showcases some of West Virginia’s industries,” says Cooper. “Students visited Mount Storm windmills and the power plant to learn about energy production; Canaan Valley Institute to learn about environmental technology applications; small businesses in the towns of Thomas and Davis, including Tip Top Coffee, Blackwater Bikes, Opening night of the week-long summit serves as an ice breaker among the attendees. Bob Orndorff answers questions at the windmill site in Mount Storm, WV. Tucker County Development Authority, Green River Group, the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Blackwater Falls, a prime example of the West Virginia tourism industry.” Overall, it seems that the activities strike the right balance between instructive and entertaining. “The Horseshoe experience is fun, but, ultimately, Horseshoe is about meeting other business leaders of the future and working with them to further your knowledge,” says Kodey Blankenship, a student at Westside High School. According to post-camp surveys, students that attended the summit learned how a business operates, increased their ability to research career opportunities in commerce and positively changed their perspective regarding entrepreneurship. “The experience opened my eyes to see what I can do for my community and state,” says Calhoun County High School student Miranda Farmer. “I now want to start my own company.” Like Farmer, the majority of summit participants leave more driven and wanting to put their new-found knowledge in motion. “I have always dreamed of having my own photography business and using the money to attend college,” says Jessica Martin, a student at Greenbrier East High School. “To be honest, though, I had no idea what I needed to do or the paperwork you have to fill out to start your own business. This week, I have learned this and much, much more. I hope to go back home and use what I learned to start my own studio.” The impact the Teen Entrepreneurship Summit has on high school students every summer is made evident in statements like those by Morgan, Blankenship, Farmer and Martin who now see the limitless opportunities awaiting them in West Virginia. These individuals represent the next generation of state leaders, and the summit exposes them to the skills they will need to carry the Mountain State toward a prosperous and thriving future.  Photography by Ohio-West Virginia Youth Leadership Association www.wvexecutive.com summer 2014 109