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Young entrepreneurs impress at second ‘Gorge Soup for Kids’

Youngsters learn ‘the pitch’ and gain start-up grants money

Water sport athlete Fiona Wylde took first place ($1,600) in the Kids Gorge Soup competition on Tuesday, taking 50 percent of the prize pot.

Wylde is planning a learn-to-SUP an event for youth that will also include also learning how to perform water tests using LaMotte kits and other water quality awareness-building activities.

Second place and $1,100 went to Keeley Brownback, taking 35 percent of the prize money. Third place and $400 went to Courtney Ghiz Peters, taking 15 percent of the pot.

“I was blown away by the caliber of the presenters and the sophistication with which they prepared their business plans and their presentations,” said Julie O’Shea, Gorge Soup founder. “Each one of them exceeded our expectations so much, we were all just stunned.”

Also presenting were:

  • Nia Burtchaell-Norman, The Gift of Gardening
  • Phineas C. Newcomb, Y2Pro (Scootering Advocacy Group)
  • Madison Mooney and Nina Magana, Staying Authentic (Organic Food)

Gorge Soup diners pay $35 to eat and hear the presentations, at Celilo Restaurant. Chef Ben Stenn made a locally based asparagus soup for the event.

Stenn discussed the historical significance of the asparagus crop in the Hood River Valley before the dinner.

In addition to the tickets, sponsors contribute to the fund for the kids’ start-ups.

Gorge Soup occurs three times a year, but it is only for Gorge Soup for Kids that sponsorships are solicited, for the purpose of increasing the prize money amount.

This year’s sponsors were:

Don and Bonnie Benton, Cascade Kiteboarding, Celilo Restaurant, Springhouse Cellar Winery, Copper West Properties, Hood River Public Storage, Rhi Design and Dog River Coffee Company.

During the event, audience member Amy Pearl of Springboard Innovation contributed an additional $500 to the prize money.

All of the presenters also received anonymous gifts of cash from the audience members in varying amounts, as well as business advice, networking opportunities and other assistance.

Wylde said, “My idea is to host a day at the Hood River Event Site where kids, 8 to 18, get the opportunity to try SUPing and test the water they’re paddling in, to become more aware about aquatic health hazards.”

Brownback is starting a new business making and selling sand candles using sand from the Hood River Sandbar.

She plans to make them by hand and sell them at Saturday Markets, to local restaurants and wineries for table settings and in souvenir shops to area visitors, and potentially online in the future.

She says, “The goals of this project would be to learn about business ownership and managing and making money. The money earned would go to my college savings.”

Ghiz-Peters is hoping to build a stable for goats and horses to provide boarding and pasture for kids who would like to participate in 4-H, but don’t have a place for large animals. She says, “The problem I am solving for my customers is, some kids who want to have animals for 4-H and don’t have the room can board them at my stable called Willow Creek Stables. Customers would have the satisfaction of their animals in a safe and open environment.”

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