Beyond Books: South Dakota Library Empowers Kids Through Entrepreneurship

February 01, 2022

We recently had the good fortune to chat with Nicole Hoines, Library Director of the Langford Public Library in Langford, South Dakota.  Nicole launched TREP$ at her library in the summer of 2021 and is looking forward to her second implementation this coming summer.  

What inspired you to offer an entrepreneurship program for kids at the library?

A local community member came in one day with the idea and I loved it! My own kid had a candy stand once and other kids in the area had lemonade and cotton candy stands, so I knew there would be interest.

What made you choose TREP$?

I reached out to the State Library to see if they had any resources or knew of any libraries that had offered something to teach kids the basics of entrepreneurship. After checking with them, they said they didn’t have anything and they didn’t know of any libraries that had offered that, so I started googling entrepreneur programs for kids and found TREP$. I liked that it was a program I could just go with and not have to do much to plan and prep for the weekly lessons.

How was the program funded?

We received the Stephanie Miller-Davis grant to fully support the first year of running the program.

Who taught it?  What was it like?

I taught it with the help of the mom of one of the kids enrolled, who happens to be an entrepreneur herself. It was super easy to teach! I love that there was literally a script I could just read and there was minimal planning ahead involved. It was extremely rewarding to see the kids take their ideas, get excited about them, and then see how they put it all together. What was surprising to me was the kids’ creativity and ingenuity with the challenges.  The things they came up with were just amazing, and it really taught me that as we grow into adulthood, sometimes we lose the ability to think outside the box. These kids reminded me to stretch my thinking!

Describe how the students responded to the workshop lessons and challenge.

The kids had lots of fun with the workshop challenges and were very engaged in the lessons. I liked having the presentations so the kids that are visual learners were able to take in the lessons that way. 

Beyond the skills needed to start a business, what kind of life skills did the students acquire? How might this help them in the future?

I think one of the biggest things was learning how to work with other people in the challenges. Our community is small so most kids know each other here, but I really saw some growth with a few of the kids in this area. Learning how to communicate your thoughts and ideas and work together towards a common goal. This was where you could really see which kids were leaders and which were followers, so you could try to help them level out their strengths and weaknesses.

Tell us about the TREP$ Marketplace.

We planned our Marketplace to be in conjunction with the Annual Summerfest Vendor Fair, so we knew we would get more traffic in that way. It went very well, and all but one of the kids made a profit! So that was really awesome. It was fun to see how some of the kids really took off and ran their businesses and even made some business partnerships on the fly! We even had one child join our group who was in town visiting family.

What were some of the biggest lessons learned by the students? 

I think the biggest lesson learned was that making a plan and seeing it through takes more work than they realized at first. I think the other thing was self-confidence. Some kids had lots of it and some didn’t have as much, and they saw how that could play into their sales. 

How did TREP$ meet a need in the community?

TREP$ met the need for encouraging our youth to be entrepreneurs, so they have the skills and mindset to go out into the world and experience what it has to offer – but know that they can still come back and settle down in our community and still have options beyond just working for someone else.

Why do you think TREP$ is a good fit for public libraries?

I think TREP$ is a great fit for libraries because libraries are not just about books anymore. Libraries are a great resource for all kinds of learning opportunities, and TREP$ can really have a positive impact on any community, but especially smaller ones like ours. TREP$ works perfectly for someone to teach, regardless of their background. You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to teach this program, and it’s very easy to facilitate because of how it was written.

Is there anything else you would like other libraries or schools considering TREP$ to know?

I think one of the things I tried to stress the most with the kids was that this was a learning experience. They might make mistakes, they might fail, but by redefining the words “failure” and “mistakes” to mean “the process of learning through trial and error, enabling you to make different choices in the future” and “proof that you are trying”, respectively. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” So we really wanted our kids to concentrate on learning, and if they were successful in making a profit this time, then that was a bonus!

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TREP$ is the award-winning entrepreneurship education experience for students in grades 5-8. To learn more, visit www.trepsed.com or email info@trepsed.com.

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