The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) turns students, as young as 11, into the CEOs of their very own businesses, developing the skills necessary to be successful members of the future workforce. Throughout the program students are encouraged to think critically and come up with creative solutions to problems, skills that are essential for entrepreneurs and for success in the workplace. With the help of guest speakers, site tours, and business mentors, students develop the soft skills, which are more and more being labeled essential skills, that are vital to a successful career in any field.

So far, the 10 students of YEA! Class of 2021 have interacted with over 25 business professionals representing 14 different industries, both in-person and virtually. From the industrial industry with Western Metals Recycling, to marketing with ProStar Geocorp, and finance with Dalby, Wendland & Co., students learn what it means to be an entrepreneur and business owner across a multitude of different career paths. By the end of the program, students will have interacted with well over 60 local businesses. Later this month, students will have the opportunity to further develop these essential skills by interacting one on one with five CEOs and community leaders from throughout the Grand Valley at the YEA! CEO Roundtable on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 from 6:00– 7:00 p.m. via Zoom.

This year’s CEO Panel will include:

  • Shane Haas, President, FCI Constructors
  • Jamie Hamilton, Chairman & CEO, Home Loan Insurance
  • Kelly Johnston, President & CEO, JFS, LLC
  • Katie Powell, President, Munro Companies
  • James Stucky, Founder & CEO, Bulldog Protective Gear

Although this year the CEO Roundtable will look a little different, with the CEOs joining our YEA! students virtually, it is a significant event for students. The CEO Roundtable provides insight and guidance to the students as they prepare to launch their own businesses and become CEOs and leaders themselves. Students will benefit from hearing the entrepreneurial stories and experiences of prominent business leaders from throughout the Grand Valley, as it related to small business. All of the local CEOs volunteering their one-on-one time with the students will be discussing their roles, companies/organizations, backgrounds, and offering helpful business and networking advice to the students. The CEOs will be able to share how they got their start in their field to the next generation of CEOs and community leaders.

For more information, please contact Darcy Weir, YEA! Program Manager at or (970) 263-2916.

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