One sure way to invest in the 12 Key Assets of Commonwealth is through the engagement of local youth. Over the past 7 years, Ogallala Commons has created several proven ways of engaging youth and young adults, who are the future of the places where we live:
Youth Engagement Days: OC’s Youth Engagement Day provide an opportunity for students in grades 7 – 12 to explore and connect to their “E-Dream” and the potential of entrepreneurship, the impact of businesses in the local community, and the passion of successful hometown leaders.
Youth Entrepreneur Fairs: This is a morning-to-afternoon event in which youth entrepreneurs submit a business plan for a “conceptual” or a “ready-to-go” enterprise (two different categories). Individual or entrepreneur teams are awarded cash prizes by a group of judges, based on these categories: Business Portfolio, Interview with Judges, Booth Presentation at the Fair, Strategy for Launching the Business.
Playa Festivals: Our outdoor daylong Festivals are built around hands-on activities that make the High Plains water cycle more tangible through the lens of playa wetlands. The Festivals are geared for students from 5th grade on up. We provide resources, lesson plans for teachers who wish to participate in a Playa Festival.
Community Internships and Apprenticeships: Our Community Intern and Apprenticeships allow young people as well as older adults, to gain work experience in their community or a regional institution or business. These internships enable rural communities and urban neighborhoods to constructively utilize the skills of their youth and adults, and to inspire home-grown talent to return in the future–to live, work, play and raise their families.
Engaging young people is not just an activity, but an intentional, long-term strategic approach that requires the involvement of many hands and generations.