Wallowa County, Oregon – The Mentor Match Youth Entrepreneur Program will hold its introductory meeting September 4, from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm at Building Healthy Families, 207 NE Park Street in Enterprise. Advisor Stacy Green will tell about the innovative program whose mission is to introduce teens to entrepreneurship and business as a career path so they can come back to the county and create economic opportunity for themselves and others.
The program, created by Green and funded and administered by Building Healthy Families, has helped over 60 county teens create their own businesses. Ten of those are now living and working in the county. One of those former teens, Shelby Graning, now age 25 and a mother, opened her own business on Main Street in Joseph, Roots Salon, and expanded to a larger facility in May. Matt Perren, age 26, is now a controller at Wallowa Memorial Hospital, and father of two young daughters with his wife, Joanna. Elsa Steen is a site manager for Viridian Management, Inc. in Enterprise. Katie Birkmaier works for Farmer’s Insurance, and Marcus Lynn is employed at Bank of Eastern Oregon. Ashtin Olson Lewis and Emily Ketscher Warnock are raising children and helping their young husbands ranch. Landra Skovlin is a massage therapist, and has worked in hospitality with local caterers and the new Minam Lodge. Audrey Arment works remotely for a historic book restoration company, and works part-time at The Book Loft. Blu Risseuw recently completed his degree at Eastern Oregon University in natural resource management and has been working as a wildland firefighter for the Forest Service.
“The outmigration of our young people has been a challenge for a long time,” said Green. “We’re so excited to have these talented, engaged young adults back in the community, contributing their talents and gifts.” Many of them are also volunteering in the community, as coaches, 4-H assistants, and board members for local nonprofits.
The Mentor Match Youth Entrepreneur Program is open to all juniors and seniors in the county, and serves all schools. There is no fee for the program, which meets every other Wednesday evening and some Fridays for field trips to local entrepreneurs. The program is capped off by a Leadership & Innovation Tour in June. Fundraising for this trip ensures all teens are able to attend.