Grooming Our Own Leaders in Appalachia

From Kentucky’s Berea College:

This summer, Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) is training students in both business and community leadership. The program supplies young entrepreneurs with the abilities to strengthen their local communities. The work they are doing promotes a sense of pride in our region while also boosting the economy.

EPG has been bringing Berea students, faculty, and community members together for the past eight years. During the summer months, the program’s summer institute promotes learning, engagement, and achievement in promising young entrepreneurs through an intense eight-week program. Students must participate for two summers. At the end of their second, those who demonstrate development in applying what they have learned are awarded the distinction of EPG Fellow.

This summer, one team of EPG Fellow candidates is working to expand and promote the local food system economy. They are doing this by looking into food security, healthy living, farmers markets, and helping local farmers see the value of the food they produce. They are also incorporating different community assets like entertainment and art along with food. Using Kentucky’s rich agriculture, students hope to use what the state already has to offer for the benefit of communities and the economy. This group, consisting of both Appalachian and international students, is currently working in Hazard, Ky. to help establish a more efficient local food system in the region.

The remaining three EPG groups are working on promoting tourism within the state, which is one of Kentucky’s largest industries — the seventh largest, with an annual expenditure of $11 billion. They are drawing on the strengths of Kentucky — its cultural heritage, arts and crafts, music and natural environment. By using what Kentucky already offers to boost the local economy, the EPG program is promoting a sense of community and pride in the state.

The EPG program runs on the idea that we can grow our own leaders here in Appalachia for the benefit of those individuals and the region as a whole. By broadening the mindset of talented students within the context of this region, the EPG program provides students with abilities which can transcend industry and be applied throughout one’s life. These abilities, when applied, are intended to allow students to recognize a needed change within a community and also influence others in that community to commit to realizing that change – the definition of entrepreneurial leadership, as defined by the program.

To find out more about the EPG program, visit the EPG home page.