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Las Cruces high school students explore entrepreneurial interests

As eight Las Cruces high school students found out, owning and running a business is challenging and time-consuming. They learned this and more about entrepreneurship through a summer program offered by the New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).

Las Cruces mayor Ken Miyagishima addresses students during the luncheon and business plan awards ceremony held the final week of the Youth Entrepreneurship Summer (YES) Camp at New Mexico State University. (NMSU photo by Margaret Kovar)

The Youth Entrepreneurship Summer (YES) Camp is a summer program offered through the ACES Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business. This year, the camp was held June 1 through July 7, and was taught by Michael Patrick, community resource and economic development specialist for the Cooperative Extension Service.

The camp provides high school students with the opportunity to earn three hours of college credit while studying entrepreneurship and exploring the opportunities and challenges of starting and running their own business.

During the camp, students created a business plan and researched its economic feasibility. In addition to work during classroom hours, students had out-of-class assignments every day, where they learned about financing, market research and supply and demand.

A business plan competition was held the final week of class. The three best plans were then presented to a panel of local bankers and businessmen, who decided which business plan was best.

Karin Rios and Elle Orfield, both Las Cruces High School juniors, won first place in the contest for their T-shirt design business, JK Designs.

"This class really helped. It showed us the reality of opening a business and at the same time gave us a taste of college," Orfield said.

Darian Hancock, an incoming NMSU freshman, and Armando Martinez, an Onate High School senior, won second place with their plan for Coffee N' Tunes.

Luis Gomez, also an incoming NMSU freshman, received third place for his business, Elite Mobile Auto Detailing.

"I've taken high school business classes, so the camp was more of a review for me. Dr. Patrick emphasized everything I've learned in those classes and added his knowledge, so the course was a big help to me," Gomez said.

Also participating in the camp were LCHS students Antony Montoya, Frank Proctor and Benjamin Salas.

The contest was followed by a luncheon and awards ceremony, with Las Cruces mayor Ken Miyagishima as keynote speaker.

Students participating in the program receive scholarships to help pay for most of the costs, including tuition, books and other educational materials. The scholarships are provided by different businesses, organizations and individuals in the community.

This year's program included classes in both Las Cruces and Artesia. The classes were connected by interactive TV, so the students at both locations receive the same information and instruction simultaneously. The students in Artesia took part in a separate business plan competition.