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Josie Kueser
Elkhorn Silver
Wins "Exemplary Existing Business" at State YEC



Stacie Schmidt
Phone: 785-472-9204


Ellsworth, KS - The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving in Ellsworth County! Following the success of Grow Ellsworth County's third annual Youth Entrepreneurship "Shark Tank" Challenge, we're thrilled to announce the outstanding results from the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge (KEC) State Competition.

Josie Kueser, the state qualifier representing Ellsworth County with her venture, Elkhorn Silver, showcased exceptional talent and innovation at the KEC on Tuesday, April 16. Josie secured a top-tier position, earning a commendable cash prize of $2500 as an "Exemplary Existing Business."

Josie, the founder and owner of Elkhorn Silver, impressed judges with her comprehensive business plan and polished presentation skills. Competing at Kansas State University, she navigated through three mock boardroom presentations and delivered a captivating tradeshow presentation.

The KEC, a state-sanctioned event sponsored by Kansas State University, Kansas State Research & Extension, and Network Kansas, provides a platform for local winners to shine on a broader stage. Josie's journey to success began with her first-place win of $1500 at the local Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, graciously provided by Grow Ellsworth County.

Stacie Schmidt, local YEC event coordinator and Executive Director of Grow Ellsworth County, remarked, "The YEC program perfectly aligns with economic development's mission, nurturing the skills and competencies of our future business leaders. Josie's dedication and achievement reflect the incredible talent within our community. She represented Ellsworth County with distinction."

Josie's experience at the KEC has not only enriched her entrepreneurial journey but has also provided invaluable opportunities for business development, networking, and learning. With a cash prize totaling $4000 and newfound inspiration, Josie is poised for continued success.

The Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge is an annual opportunity open to students in grades 7-12 residing in Ellsworth County, made possible through Grow Ellsworth County's partnership with Network Kansas.

For more information, please contact Stacie Schmidt at 785-472-9204 or For additional details about Network Kansas or the E-Community Partnership, visit Ellsworth County Economic Development became an E-Community in 2019 through a competitive bid process.

Student Information on YEC

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is a written business summary, in PDF format, including details of how the business intends to operate. An executive summary is similar to a business plan, but usually shorter, covering much of the same information in summarization.

Office Work

Elevator Pitch

The Elevator Pitch is a short pitch of an entrepreneur's business to a panel of judges. The goal of an elevator pitch should be to provide an overview of the business and to leave the audience excited to learn more.


Formal Presentation

The Formal Presentation is a four-to-six-minute presentation where each business will share details of its product or service with a panel of judges, usually in the form of visual slides.


Trade Show

The Tradeshow is a 60-minute event where businesses will have the opportunity to pitch their product or service to the community and judges using a tradeshow booth as a visual and informational aid.

  • Can I work with a partner!
    Yes. You can work independently or as a group or team. Remember that working with others can be both a benefit and a challenge, and having an open dialogue at the beginning about the shared work expectations and responsibilities can avoid frustration in the future. Also, use each other's strengths! Oh, and you have to share any prize money you receive! :)
  • How will I learn how to have a successful YEC project?
    This year, we are providing an online source of video, templates, and information that you can access at your convenience. We will also host regularly scheduled meetings during advisory at the school, where you can check in, get guidance, and ask questions. We will also pair each participant with a community mentor, but it is up to you to schedule time with them! Remember, there is no way to cheat through this process. Use the resources you have and you will be successful! And don't be afraid to ask questions!
  • How much time will this take?
    There's no way for me to know that, as each student has their own expertise, pace, and expectations. You can and should expect there to be time outside of school committed to this project. A good way to gauge the time commitment is to ask a former contestant. Layton Leiker is available as a student mentor this year to help!
  • Does it have to be a real business?
    No. A fictitious business is acceptable, as long as you can create an Executive Summary and presentation that will pass the judges questions!
  • Where can I get more help?
    Student Mentor Layton Leiker Your community mentor that will be available for individual appointments. Teachers Mrs Browning, Mrs Burger, or Mrs Stover The online learning resources and templates Your parents, friends, and even other students!
  • What are the prizes?
    Cash prizes are: 1st: $1500 2nd: $1000 3rd: $500 Additional $100 prizes will be awarded that day in various categories The 1st place winner automatically goes on to compete at the State YEC competition, where they will leave with additional cash prizes.
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