Real-world business experience

AgEco 425 students get taste of entrepreneurship

Contact: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – The real world of business entrepreneurship was the focus for a group of Texas A&M University agricultural economics seniors recently.

The students presented start-up business plans at the end of the spring 2013 semester as part of a two-semester senior class called “Rural Entrepreneurship,” also known by its course numbers, AGEC 424/425.

The seniors received real-world preparation, combined with the potential for former-student-sponsored cash scholarships. The students worked for two semesters to develop a comprehensive business plan for a start-up company with a rural emphasis. They then presented that plan to business leaders, who are former students with expertise in entrepreneurship, banking, investments, insurance, agriculture and management.

Evaluation of the projects was done not by the professor, but by these experts. Following an afternoon of poster presentations, teams of experts listened to presentations of a subset of the projects during a day-long session, reviewed the written reports, and provided feedback and evaluation to the students.

Texas A&M University students presented start-up business plans at the end of the 2013 spring semester as part of a two-semester senior class called "Rural Entrepreneurship." The course is taught by Dr. Ed Rister, department of agricultural economics professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Texas A&M AgriLife Research economist. (Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Blair Fannin)

Texas A&M University students presented start-up business plans at the end of the 2013 spring semester as part of a two-semester senior class called “Rural Entrepreneurship.” The course is taught by Dr. Ed Rister, department of agricultural economics professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Texas A&M AgriLife Research economist.
(Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Blair Fannin)

From the start, students understand the course is not one to take lightly, said Dr. Ed Rister, department of agricultural economics professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Texas A&M AgriLife Research economist.

“It starts tough and just gets tougher,” Rister said.  “We call the students who make it to the end, ‘the survivors,’” he said.

Scholarships were distributed during this year’s program. The following students were recipients:

Troy ’89 and Kelli Thompson and Chevron provided $1,500 to support a set of scholarship awards recognizing students’ outstanding entrepreneurial talents, abilities and accomplishments while preparing and presenting their business plan posters in association with the AGEC 424 “Rural Entrepreneurship I” and AGEC 425 “Rural Entrepreneurship II” classes.  The sole criteria for determining the winners of $750, $500, and $250 scholarships were the experts’/mentors’ assessment of the students’ performances in presenting their posters and interacting with the Entrepreneur, Lender, and Venture Capitalist Expert Panel on the afternoon of April 30. Winners were: Chris Broadway, first place, $750; KaRonna Bass, second place, $500; and Cory Nagelberg, third place, $250.

The Thompsons and Chevron also provided $250 to support a scholarship award recognizing one student’s outstanding entrepreneurial artistic and communicative talents as evidenced by the visual appearance of his/her poster on April 30.  The sole criteria for determining the winner of this $250 scholarship were the experts’/mentors’ assessment of the students’ posters during the afternoon of April 30. Chris Broadway was the scholarship recipient.

The Thompsons and Chevron provided $250 to support a scholarship award recognizing one student’s outstanding entrepreneurial showmanship as evident during discussions of his/her poster on April 30.  The sole criteria for determining the winner of this $250 scholarship are the experts’/mentors’ assessment of the students’ showmanship during the afternoon of April 30. Andrew Campbell was the scholarship recipient.

Texas AgFinance, Robstown, and Mark Miller ’87 provided $1,500 to support a set of scholarship awards recognizing students’ outstanding entrepreneurial talents, abilities and accomplishments while preparing their business plans in association with the AGEC 424 “Rural Entrepreneurship I” and AGEC 425 “Rural Entrepreneurship II” classes.  The criteria for determining the winners of $750, $500, and $250 scholarships were the instructor’s and graduate TAs assessments of the students’ AGEC 425 class performance pre-April 30.  These scholarship recipients are:

- First place:          Melany Eckhardt $750

- Second place:         KaRonna Bass $500

- Third place:          Clayton Roots $250

 

Texas AgFinance, Robstown, and Mark Miller ’87 also provided $1,500 to support a set of scholarship awards recognizing students’ outstanding entrepreneurial talents, abilities and accomplishments while orally presenting their business plans in association with the AGEC 424 “Rural Entrepreneurship I” and AGEC 425 “Rural Entrepreneurship II” classes.  The sole criteria for determining the winners of $750, $500, and $250 scholarships were the experts’/mentors’ assessment of the students’ oral presentations and ensuing discussions on May 1.  These scholarship recipients were: Bass, first place, $750; Colt Kokel, second place, $500; and Brian Dilorio, third place, $250.

Gary and Connie Decker of Edward Jones in Stamford, were donors of the Rural Entrepreneur of the Year $1,000 Scholarship to a student who has demonstrated a sincere interest in beginning his or her business while also being serious and committed in his or her business plan development efforts in AGEC 424 & 425. Kokel was the scholarship winner.

 

Berry ’89 and Jennifer ’92 Summerour were donors of the $1,000 Endowed Scholarship in Agribusiness Entrepreneurship which recognizes students enrolled in AGEC 425 who are seeking practical experience in entrepreneurship.  Selected by Department Scholarship Committee and previously awarded at UG Spring Reception on April 21. Cory Nagelberg was the scholarship winner.

Professor Emeritus Dr. James McGrann ’73 in association with his Integrated Resource Management – Standardized Performance Analysis work provided for Sparkling Rural Entrepreneur $100 Scholarships to one or more AGEC 425 students with the highest AGEC 424 grades last Fall. Scholarship winners were Roots, Kokel and Bass.

Karl Willmann ’74 is awarded the Rural Entrepreneur Commitment to Project $1,000 Scholarship in recognition of a student’s perseverance and commitment to developing his/her best possible course materials. Melany Eckhardt was the scholarship winner.

Cody Eatherton ’07 and the Cortezes (Rick Sr. and Jr.) of MCA Com, Houston, awarded the Rural Entrepreneur Achievement $1,000 Scholarship in recognition of a student’s extraordinary accomplishments and determination in assimilating and preparing his/her AGEC 425 business plan prospectus materials. Douglas Caron was the scholarship winner.

Allen W. Sturdivant ’88 awarded the Rural Entrepreneur Ambition $1,000 Scholarship in recognition of a student’s extraordinary commitment, desire, and ambition to be a successful entrepreneur in the future. Chris Broadway was the scholarship winner.

Lance Waggoner ’92 and Micro Title in Corsicana awarded two Rural Entrepreneur Communication Scholarships in recognition of the students’ (a) outstanding, most visually appealing presentation slides and (b) best responses to the expert panels’ questions. Scholarship winners were DiIorio ($500) and John Clopton ($500).

The AGEC 425 Spring 2010 Class ( Zach Arrington ’10, Amy Burns ’10, Taylor Dacus ’10, Lindsi Dutton ’10, Matt Franklin ’10, Matt Murch ’10, Ben Paschal ’10, and Katherine Plangman ’10) presented their third year of Rural Entrepreneur Spring 2010 AGEC 425 Survivors Scholarships to students who have provided leadership, encouragement, and support to his/her peers throughout AGEC 424 and AGEC 425 through exhibiting tenacity and commitment in developing their written and oral presentation materials.  This year, two $500 scholarships were awarded. Scholarship winners were Charles Burford and Clayton Roots.

 

The AGEC 425 Spring 2011 Class (Fred Billings ’11, James Craven ’11, Constance Cuadra ’11, Bailey Fellows ’10, Jordan Glasener Meline ’11, Wesley Hoelscher ’11, Ashley Nelson ’11, Kayla Peters ’11, Samantha Smith ‘11, Allison Stein ‘11, Hall Thanheiser ’11, Mary Kathrine White ’11, and Ben Wilson ’11) presented their second year of Rural Entrepreneur Spring 2011 AGEC 425 Survivors Scholarships to two students who have demonstrated attention to the financial details in their AGEC 425 business plan projects.  This year, two $600 were awarded to Clopton and Vehrs.

The AGEC 425 Spring 2012 Class (Jacob Adair ’12, Kasey Amor ’12, Matt Ashcraft ’12, Kalyn Carroll ’12, Dalton Feldmann ’12, Cody Mobley ’12, Steven Pomikahl ’12, Chris Raun ’12, Chris Robertson ’12, and Adam Shimek ’12) presented their first year of Rural Entrepreneur Spring 2011 AGEC 425 Survivors Scholarships to four students exemplified the “climb the staircase” slogan of AGEC 424/425.  Four $450 scholarships were awarded to Andrew Campbell, Colton Flowers, Clayton Rayburn and William Ritter.

Members of the Class of ’74 (Jim Astin ’74, Steve Chapman ’74, Dianne Rister ’74, and Ed Rister ’74) awarded six $250 scholarships in recognition of Rural Entrepreneurship Professional Engagement to students. This was based on their observed behavior during April 30-May 1 activities in interacting with our panel of experts and mentors beyond the ordinary, requisite meetings and discussions. Scholarship winners were Bass, Chris Broadway, Douglas Caron, Clopton and Ritter.

Jerry Witte ’87 awarded the Rural Entrepreneur Visionary $500 Scholarship in recognition of a student’s perception of a future entrepreneurial opportunity. Dilorio was the winner.

Steve Cooper ’74 awarded the Rural Entrepreneur ‘Walk-the-Talk’ $500 Scholarship in recognition of a student’s current involvement in a business closely related to his AGEC 425 project. Andrew Campbell was the scholarship winner.

Jeff Rutland ’05 and Texas Farm Bureau in Lampasas awarded the Rural Entrepreneur ‘Most Entrepreneurial Project’ $500 Scholarship in recognition of a student’s having identified a unique, challenging, entrepreneurial project. Bass was the scholarship winner.

Bill Corrigan ’01, Mrs. Ann Corrigan, and The Corrigan-Goddard Foundation in Dallas awarded the Rural Entrepreneur ‘Best Overall Communication Skills’ $500 Scholarship in recognition of a student’s poise and consistent exemplary communication skills throughout the April 30 – May 1 AGEC 425 event. Bass was the scholarship winner.

Murray ’73 and Kathi Edwards awarded a total of $2,500 in travel scholarships this spring to individual members of the class to assist in defraying their travel and per diem expenses associated with them traveling to and meeting with one of their experts/mentors at his/her place of business. They also awarded $2,000 to fund a class trip to visit two rural entrepreneurial agribusinesses, Kaspar Wireworks in Shiner and Royalty Pecan Farm near Caldwell.  Further, one $500 scholarship was awarded to the student who was most aggressive and effective in pursuing and communicating with mentors throughout the year. Bass was the scholarship winner.

Larry Hodges ’88 and Copy Corner in College Station awarded a 50 percent discount scholarship to each student for the preparation of their final project.  The average value of these scholarships was approximately $80 per student, with the resulting total value being $1,200.

Tapp Bentz, Andrew Gotcher ’11, and The Outback Restaurant in College Station awarded two sets of gift cards to the graduate teaching assistants, Kasey Amor ’12 and Kalyn Carroll ’12 , in recognition of their ‘beyond-the-call-of-duty’ provision of support to the students and management of the instructor.

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