POMEROY – Meigs County Innovative Youth Society (MCIYS) was the focus of opening day at the Meigs County Farmers Market (MCFM). Since the creation of the Market, adult and young entrepreneurs have been encouraged to turn their profession into a business. Veteran farmers’ market sellers have been enthusiastic mentors to new sellers, especially encouraging interested young people.

Becoming a successful salesperson and business owner takes more than a great idea, and many, lacking experience, fail to market their product and become discouraged.

Having experienced the struggle themselves, Halo Rife and Cooper Schagel started a conversation about how to help other young people. What they felt was needed was a structured way to teach young salespeople best business and marketing practices. Rife has operated a successful art business since the age of 13 and Schagel is known throughout the region for his photography. That’s when they came up with the idea that young people help young people.

“All the adults had been so supportive,” Rife said. “but we thought it would be helpful for us to have a program run by young people for young people.”

She said they knew they would need funding, so they turned to Dixie Hawthorne of Meigs County Market.

“When I heard about the MCIYS and what they wanted to do, I asked the market board if they would be okay with me writing a grant to ‘pay back’ what had been done for us financially when our marketplace launched in 2019,” says Hawthorne.

Hawthorne wrote a $7,500 grant proposal that was approved by the Market Board: “The Meigs County Health Department’s Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) program has included funds in the 2019 CHC grant to start a farmers market in Meigs County. With the support of this grant and the local community, the market has become very successful. The board now wants to pay for the opportunity given to them by CHC.

According to Hawthorne, the project supports the start-up of a business incubator for young entrepreneurs. She said that for the past three seasons the MCFM had a stand showcasing 18 and under merchandise, so she and the market board were delighted when a group of these young people, who were already running successful businesses, have expressed their desire to start an organization that mentors, supports and helps existing and aspiring young business owners grow and sustain their businesses into the future.

The goal of MCIYS is to create businesses that are sustainable, self-sufficient and able to support the business owner financially. Hawthorne and MCFM manager Stephanie Rife said it was an impressive and important undertaking that the group was aiming for, and the idea that they could support this group financially as well as with their encouragement was something something they immediately adopted.

“When you see young people doing something this positive, they have to be encouraged,” Hawthorne said. “These kids are just amazing at what they’ve been able to accomplish so far.”

Halo Rife, Cooper Schagel and Storm Spears make up MCIYS’ board of directors and were delighted to announce on Saturday that they have been granted nonprofit status. A private donor had come forward with a $5,000 grant once the group had achieved this status.

“It’s cool to start something to help incubate start-ups,” Schagel said. “We wanted to create something for young people led by young people. We wanted to be able to share our experiences and our struggles, and be an example for others.

Spears said, “We are thrilled with the opportunity we are creating in our community.”

Rife said their first day at the market went well and added that their work has only just begun. She shared that they are looking for companies to support entrepreneurs by also teaching them what they have learned.

“We create courses in many different areas, including business, marketing, crafts, agriculture, writing,” Rife said. “We have lots of young people with a variety of interests and are looking for people who would love to teach.”

Support for the MCIYS project was made possible by funding from the Rocky Community Improvement Fund and the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation through a grant obtained by the Meigs County Farmers’ Market and private donations. For more information on how to support MCIYS, visit them on Facebook, call (740) 447-3081, or email [email protected]

@2022 Ohio Vallely Publishing, all rights reserved.

Meigs County Innovative Youth Society board members Halo Rife, Cooper Schagel and Storm Spears at the Meigs County Farmers Market Saturday.

Lily Lawrentz is pictured with her hand sewn Bitty Biddies and jewellery. The Biddies sold out quickly and she plans to keep busy making more, along with additional selections of Fantasy Bitty Biddies and Native Bitty Biddies.

Opal Huggins and Ruby Lechler named their business “Meigs County Rose”. Opal left and Ruby right, with Opal’s sister Laurel Higgins, middle, are pictured at the Meigs County Farmer’s Market displaying their handcrafted jewelry and cards.

The Meigs County Innovative Youth Society mentors young entrepreneurs like Meigs County Rose, who have found a creative way to display their earrings.

MCIYS is a Meigs County company dedicated to helping and assisting young Meigs innovators with their businesses and creative endeavours.

Young people help young people

Lorna Hart is a writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.


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