One of my favorite youth programs took place this past week in Henderson and is scheduled in York later this month: ESI Camp!

I have witnessed, firsthand, the value of these camps as a teacher and mentor for a few years in many communities. Through these camps, youth have the opportunity to identify their strengths and develop a business based on their interests. These camps utilize a 4-H curriculum called EntrepreneurShip Investigation. ESI is an exciting, interactive, and comprehensive curriculum project designed for youth, ages 10-19. ESI uses a variety of tools to help participants develop their entrepreneurial skills and find their business niche. Through exciting activities, case studies and current technology, participants are transformed into budding entrepreneurs!

This year was the first time that we hosted an ESI Camp in Henderson and it was a blast! I truly enjoyed learning more about the beautiful community of Henderson and touring local businesses. The town itself has a pleasant, rural vibe that is rich with tradition. They are willing to try new things and support others in their endeavors – just check out what they have planned for Community Days! Our local ESI participants were filled with ambition and drive. They each created businesses based on their handcrafted items and sold them at the local Farmer’s Market on Tuesday evening. I hope to see their businesses build in the future and wish them continued success!

.After completing all levels of the ESI curriculum, youth will have the skills and tools to start their own business, as well as have a completed business and marketing plan – the “road map” to the entrepreneur’s success. Finally, participants will learn that they can do all of these things without moving to a large city. The ESI curriculum provides an opportunity to reach young people; enabling them to explore opportunities they can create for themselves with the support of their community.

The ESI curriculum can be taught in classrooms or as an out-of-school or summer camp program. Since its inception in 2008, it has been taught in 48 states and at least eight countries. It has been used by 4-H clubs and youth and community organizations, and in state fair competitions. It also has been integrated into middle and high schools as a formal classroom curriculum (University of Nebraska–Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, n.d.). In 2015, 1,229 students received over 20,500 hr of ESI instruction. All units of the curriculum, including an educator’s guide, are available for purchase online.

The York ESI Camp is happening July 15-20. This camp is a collaboration with various community partners. The students are engaged in lessons throughout the week that will culminate in a business marketplace on Saturday during Balloon Days. I encourage you to support these young entrepreneurs at the Sidewalk Sales downtown. On Saturday, July 20, students will set up their “stores” in downtown York and be ready to sell their goods from 8 – 11 AM. Check out their creative ventures and support the next generation of York business owners!

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