Shawn Kaskie
Center for Rural Research and Development director, 308.865.8135

The UNK Enactus (previously known as SIFE) team recently hosted New Venture Adventure Day, an all day competition, at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“New Venture Adventure Day is a ‘real-life’ entrepreneurial experience in which both university and high school students develop leadership and business skills,” said Shawn Kaskie, Enactus team adviser and director of the UNK Center for Rural Research and Development. “At New Venture Adventure Day, UNK students coached the high school students on how to develop business proposals.” The proposals were presented to local business leaders at the end of the day.

Over 100 students participated from schools including Overton, Hastings, Pleasanton, Sandhills, Wilcox Hildreth, Grand Island Central Catholic, Kenesaw, Callaway, Amherst, Grand Island Northwest, Sandy Creek, Kearney High School, Litchfield High School and Sumner-Eddyville-Merna.

Student were put into teams that began their new venture adventure by creating a retail, service, or manufacturing business and crafting a mission statement and business card for that new company. Teams also identified financing requirements of the new venture and met with local finance professionals to obtain the funding needed.

The teams also met with mock realtors to negotiate a lease for their operations, had to rationalize their case for an international trade decision involving an ethical dilemma with another local business professional and developed commercials to promote their new business.

Finally, each team presented their overall business concept to a panel of judges comprised of local business professionals and UNK staff.

The “Suds and Soap” team was recognized as Grand Champion. Team members included: Grace Manley, Kearney High School; Cody Masters, Kearney High School; Salina Hofman, Cedar Rapids; Zachary Pahl, Overton; Rolland Schleichardt, Callaway; Kirsten Burnside, Sandhills; Taylor Monks, Litchfield; Jacob Klingelhoefe, Amherst; Shaylee Fouts, Wilcox-Hildreth; and Dan Welsh, Grand Island Central Catholic.

“Many students came with the desire of learning how to start and run their own business,” Kaskie said. “At the end of the day, many students were satisfied in learning concepts of starting a business and the skills it takes to do so.”

The following teams were also named “league winners”: “6th Sense” team members included: Rachelle Steiner, Kenesaw; Kelsey Wiemers, Kearney High School; Jacee Johnson, Cedar Rapids; Tanner Gruntorad, Overton; Derek Hilderbrandt, Callaway; Courntey Fox, Sandhills; Falicia Shepardson, Litchfield; Sam Duennerman, Amherst; Blaine Groothius, Wilcox-Hildreth; and Rebecca Underwood, SEM. Band-Itteam members included: Dalton Bender, Kenesaw; Easton Hanson, Kearney High School; Goffrey Beason, Overton; Oscar Gonzalez, Callaway; Frankie Sierks, Sandhills; Bryce Brown, SEM; Tim Christensen, Amherst; Kaitlin Poe, Blue Hill; and Kale Miller, Pleasanton.

According to Kaskie, Enactus had the support of many local businesses that included: The Center for Rural Research and Development, Intellicom, Walgreens, Xpanxion, and Runza.

Many business leaders also participated as judges and worked with the students throughout the day. Among the business leaders and UNK representatives involved were: Riley Mollard, Joel Wheeler and Matt Schall, Farmers & Merchants Bank; Joseph Cochran, Wells Fargo; Scott Geiger, Geneva State Bank; Jack McSweeney, Century 21; Matt Meister and Scott Wemhoff, Coldwell Banker; Jon Watts, UNK Business Services; Eric Helligrel, Skeeter Barnes; Todd Herges and Eddie Laraga, Intellicom Inc.; Eric Trettle and Michael Cudabeck, Xpanxion; Dr. Joe Oravecz, UNK dean for Student Affairs; Dr. Tim Burkink, UNK dean of the College of Business and Technology; and Sara McMillan, SIFE Alumni.

According to Kaskie, the contest is one of many educational outreach activities offered by the UNK Enactus team this year.

Founded in 1975 and active on more than 1,400 college and university campuses in 47 countries, Enactus is a national, non-profit organization that works in partnership with business and higher education to provide college students the opportunity to make a difference, and to develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills through learning, practicing and teaching the principles of free enterprise.

For more information, contact the UNK Enactus Team Adviser Shawn Kaskie at 308.865.8135, the Enactus World Headquarters at 800.677.7433 or visit