4-H teens try their hands at social entrepreneurship

4-H teen citizenship, leadership and service workshop helps teens generate a generous donation of bunk beds and bedding to Newaygo County families in need.

What began as a 4-H teen citizenship, leadership and service workshop in January 2010 at Kettunen Center ended with a generous donation to Newaygo County Love in the Name of Christ (Love INC) for bunk beds and bedding for several worthy families.

Two Newaygo County 4-H teens, Emily Boverhof and Lydia Breen, were chosen to explore the value of social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship combines the best of service learning and civic engagement with entrepreneurship principles to encourage youth to start social entrepreneurship business clubs that have a goal of giving back to a particular community need identified by the group. Social entrepreneurs work not for personal profit but for the public good. They strive to make a positive impact on their communities.

To begin their project, social entrepreneurs Emily and Lydia interviewed Andy Lofgren, Newaygo County Economic Development Office executive director, for tips about what makes a successful entrepreneur. Among other things, they learned that entrepreneurs create 44 percent of all new businesses. They also interviewed four successful entrepreneurs. The girls then chose the bunk bed ministry to assist Love INC for their profits.

The two teens undertook several moneymaking ventures: selling plant seedlings, auctioning gently used donations online, and selling Michigan magnets and stuffed animals. Lydia and Emily were able to gain skills to put their business plans into action.

At the conclusion of their endeavors, both were impressed with what they had learned and with the generosity of the community.

Emily stated, “This has been an experience like no other. I am so glad I was able to be part of the 4-H Social Entrepreneur Team.”

Lydia explained, “I am so impressed by how much our community wanted to donate plants and money and to purchase the items when they learned what we were raising money to support. It is great to see how much people around here care about others.”

In September 2010, the girls were able to contribute more than $500 to the Love INC bunk bed ministry. The 4-H pledge mentions using our hands to larger service, Emily and Lydia have certainly lived that mission.


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