Geauxing into Business

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One of the state’s newest businesses is not owned by a major corporation.

It’s owned by a 10th grade student from East Baton Rouge Parish.

Triple S Show Supplies owner Sarah Israel, a 4-H member, was in the inaugural class of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy program in Baton Rouge at Louisiana State University, a yearlong educational program that prepares young people to own businesses.

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“My goal is to sell my bags online as well as in local Tractor Supply and co-op stores,” Israel said. “My ultimate goal is to have a booth at the LSU AgCenter district and state livestock shows.”

During the course, the students took field trips to various businesses to learn about prototypes, business models and marketing. The YEA program concluded with a pitch night, where Israel received $800 in seed money to support her efforts to get her business up and running.

As a new 4-H livestock exhibitor, Israel quickly discovered that it was challenging to hold her poultry and rabbit projects while juggling her grooming equipment and medical supplies. Israel designed a solution to the problem — a show bag that holds the items needed to be successful in competitively showing poultry and rabbits. Israel and other 4-H members from across Louisiana had the opportunity to sharpen their business skills and compete in the inaugural Tiger Tank inaugural Tiger Tank Entrepreneurship Challenge at 4-H University in June 2019. Louisiana 4-H hunted for innovative students to pitch businesses. Contestants were tasked with creating a product or service-based business or idea, writing a business plan and pitching the idea to the "Tigers," a panel of successful entrepreneurs.

“4-H members have a tremendous opportunity to turn their 4-H project work into real businesses. It’s a mindset shift,” said Christina Hebert, Louisiana 4-H college and career readiness specialist. “Developing an entrepreneurial mindset will empower students to be resourceful and solution-driven as they prepare to enter the workforce.”

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Bossier Parish 4-H alumna Sarah Hammonds received the top honor at the Tiger Tank challenge, a $1,000 cash award to support the expansion of her business. Hammonds is a first-generation beekeeper who has spent the past seven years working with honeybees and providing educational services to students and community organizations in her community through her business, Hammonds’ Heavenly Honey.

“Youth can gain so much more from creating a business than just earning money to buy the latest video game. They gain a sense of wonder and accomplishment through getting to see what they have built and helped grow and flourish,” Hammonds said. “I fully encourage youth to experiment with entrepreneurship. It is a very exciting and fun experience.” Hammonds plans to expand her existing beekeeping operation, so she can grow sales of all-natural wildflower liquid and creamed honey. Hammonds’ Heavenly Honey is currently a cottage business, based out of a home with beehives maintained on the property. Product distribution currently occurs through local farmers markets and at community events in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. Over the long term, Hammonds plans to expand her product line to include lip balms, candles, pollen and cut comb honey.

The Tiger Tank Entrepreneurship Challenge offers 4-H members an opportunity to apply their strengths, talents and abilities to design innovative business ventures. In the process of designing their businesses, students will sharpen their time management skills, financial management skills, communication skills, problem-solving abilities, critical thinking skills, perseverance and confidence. “Whether you are starting completely new or are expanding your business, it is a very big step forward and can be daunting,” Hammonds said. “It takes a lot of determination and perseverance to take the next step, and this is what Tiger Tank was for me.”

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2/11/2020 4:37:02 PM
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