Stewarding the Next Generation

“Real Men Drink Pink,” reads signs pinned to the shirts of two brothers selling lemonade at the Livingston Farmers Market.

Cody and Braxton Vincent are quite the entrepreneurs. Several other vendors sell fresh lemonade and attract long lines at their booths. Cody and Braxton decided to differentiate themselves by wearing signs on their shirts and wandering through the crowds with a placard promoting pink lemonade. In doing so they discovered a new and lucrative twist to their business.

A number of the vendors took the brothers up on their offer to deliver the lemonade and also asked the Vincents to pick them up something to eat along the way. And so was born Cody and Braxton’s Lemonade and Delivery Service.

What is most amazing about the creativity and nimble nature of this business is the age of the entrepreneurs. Cody is 13 and Braxton is 10. And they are not the only children running businesses at the Livingston Farmers Market.

Throughout summer vacation, children from 6 to 16 occupy a surprising number of vendor spaces at the Market. Shoppers can find fresh cut flowers, face painting, free range eggs, snow cones, cookies, duct tape wallets and Wondrous Wizarding Wands, all offered by “Youth Booths.”

Many of the kids are there for noble reasons:  reducing waste by repurposing old materials, raising money for local charities, and to learn first hand the fundamentals of business and entrepreneurship.

Last week marked the fourth annual summer kids camp dedicated to entrepreneurship and sustainability taught by WSE, LINKS for Learning, and Junior Achievement. For four days the campers learn business fundamentals, budgeting basics, and about sustainable practices in business. WSE then mentors interested children to sell products at our Livingston Farmers Market. The camp and subsequent mentoring is part of WSE’s Young Entrepreneur Stewardship (YES) program designed to equip our youth with the tools and experience to become the next leaders of our community, in business and sustainability.

Through the program kids learn that business is vital for the sustainability of this region and that sustainable practices are vital to the long-term profitability of business. They will tell you that sustainability means a healthy environment, community, and economy.

YES Kids learn how to set up their own businesses at the farmers market and understand that they are strengthening Livingston’s economy by doing so. Many go a step further by donating proceeds to their favorite charity. And they understand their power to protect the environment by minimizing energy and water use and reducing waste in the creation of their products. Many YES entrepreneurs, for example, insist on using only napkins to serve their baked goods to customers, thus forgoing the waste and cost of forks and paper plates.

Every few weeks brings a surprising addition to our farmers market:  “Art Sale to Benefit Charity,” bird houses to raise money for the animal shelter, cookies made from all Montana-grown ingredients. We are encouraged each week by the creativity and dedication of our community’s youth.

WSE’s purpose as an organization is to pass on to the next generation the special qualities that we enjoy daily in this region. YES takes our mission a step further by empowering the next generation to become stewards themselves. We are grateful for the support we have had to implement this program and the partnerships that have made it a reality.

YES teaches our next generation of entrepreneurs the economic benefits of using sustainable business practices, the importance of giving back to their community and the responsibility of being good stewards of the world they live in. Come out to the Livingston Farmers Market to see these kids in action. Buy a glass of lemonade. Maybe a cookie. And don’t forget to check out the wizarding wands.