Students Leaf Out to Learn About Business

October 18, 2016

ylgThere are so many ways for kids to learn that their ideas matter and that they can make a difference. At OtterCares, we’re fortunate enough to work with several organizations who are focused on helping students learn and develop the knowledge, drive and passion to be the entrepreneurs and philanthropists of tomorrow. And each organization has a very unique way of inspiring students to change the world!

Loveland Youth Gardeners (LYG) takes a unique spin on traditional gardening to help students learn how to grow a business using the fruits of their labor. Executive Director for the Loveland Youth Gardens organization, Alyssa McConkey, and her team have been running a unique youth program, Leaf Out, to help shape tomorrow’s business leaders. Leaf Out uses traditional gardening activities and principles while incorporating entrepreneurial components that expose students to important skills they need when running a business. This past summer, students were responsible for growing and maintaining an herb garden, selling their products to a local restaurant. This activity required students to not only utilize gardening skills they’ve acquired through participating in LYG, they also had to learn and use basic business skills such as pricing, product delivery, inventory and finance. In addition, students learned to speak to local business owners about their products, negotiate pricing and fulfill contracts.

Alyssa explains that LYG had been piloting a small social enterprise program for three years and only through Leaf Out were they able to gain a better perspective of not only the program’s success but also of the student’s interest. Students jumped at the idea and showed true ownership in regards to the idea of running their own business. “We let students really experiment with products and ideas that they wanted to create and that could be sold at local farmers markets. This group of students decided to create herbal lip balms using the herbs grown from the program. These were a hit and we sold out at our farm stand!”

leafoutAlyssa envisions the next phase of their social enterprise taking shape next year and hopes to collaborate with local businesses to teach students about creating a business plan, marketing plan and inviting community partners to talk to students about owning and running a business. The hope is that through their social enterprise, the money that students earn through creating and selling their products will not only help fund the business but also help fund LYG long-term.  “We want to take the Leaf Out program to the next level and really bring everything full circle,” Alyssa said.

Students and parents had nothing but great things to say about the Leaf Out program. One parent shared her gratitude for the program, saying, “THANKS A MILLION!!! Since (my son) started in the program, I never know what the following summer will bring. (My son) is a young man with unique ideas and all I can do is encourage him to do his best.  Thank you for being such an important part of his overall development!!”

One student really saw the value the program brought to his life, “This program has literally changed my life for the ultimate better.”

We can’t wait to see what’s ahead for LYG and the Leaf Out program! Learn more about Loveland Youth Gardeners.