Shawn Kaskie
Center for Rural Research and Development director, 308.865.8135

The University of Nebraska at Kearney Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team was named Regional Champions at a recent competition in Charlotte, N.C., and will go on to the national competition in May.

UNK was one of 30 teams taking part in the regional competition held in Charlotte. Each year, 12 regional competitions are held around the United States. Winning teams from each of the 12 regions will compete for national honors in the USA National Exposition in Minneapolis. Along with qualifying for the national competition, the UNK team won $1,000 in prize money.

“Eight student members of the UNK SIFE team delivered professional presentations to corporate CEOs on several ‘high profile’ community service projects they have implemented this academic year,” said Shawn Kaskie, UNK SIFE faculty adviser.

The eight SIFE members on the winning team, listed alphabetically by hometown, include: Albion – Keri Carder,Grand Island – Sara McMillan and Zach Shultz, Imperial – Jordan German, Kearney – Amanda Thea, Morrill – Kasey Dietz,Newman Grove – Alyshia Nelson, North Platte – Miranda Kluthe.

The teams are evaluated by a panel of area business and community leaders on how successful they were at using business concepts to improve the quality of life and the standard of living for those they serve. The UNK SIFE team recently helped students from Cody-Kilgore Unified Schools and the community to open a grocery store in Cody.

“The team spent the last few months training local high school students and village leaders to develop a business plan that will improve their chances for success and return a key service back to a town where current residents drive 40 miles to get food,” Kaskie said. Before the new store opened, an estimated 300 people living in Cody, Kilgore, Merriman and the surrounding area had to travel 80 miles roundtrip to the nearest town to buy groceries.

The UNK SIFE team also sponsors the annual New Venture Adventure Day, where more than 100 high school students from 10 area schools develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills by working in teams to present business proposals to local business professionals.

The SIFE USA Regional Competitions are challenging, team-oriented events that provide a forum for best practice sharing, encouraging and motivating students to continually improve their quality of the their programs.

“The UNK Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE Team, has strong passion for outreach service related to youth entrepreneurship education and community development.  Their mission is ‘head for business, heart for the world,’” Kaskie said.