The goal of Cool Beans is to educate our youth in the areas of agriculture and entrepreneurship.
The ultimate objective is to introduce youth to all facets of agriculture as a business, as well as establish a youth-led farm for long term sustainability. The participants learn the fundamentals and principles of starting an agriculture-based business, social entrepreneurship and developing life-long soft skills.
While studying at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, I attended an Earth Day Festival, my very first environmentally focused event. This left a lasting impression. Fast forward 15 years and I found myself planning the Cool Beans event for the year when I noticed that Earth Day fell during the Caswell County School system’s Spring Break. And so, the Caswell County Earth Day Festival was born.
After a few planning sessions, we had almost every Caswell County agency jumping on board to assist. The very first Caswell County Earth Day Festival in 2022 was a success with over 500 youth and adults attending. Folks from all over the county came together on the lawn of the Pavilion to celebrate our earth, learn how to become eco-friendly and have fun. And of course, we hosted a Youth Pop Up Shop to promote and support youth enterprises in Caswell County.
This year’s Earth Day falls on Saturday, April 22, therefore we anticipate an even larger crowd. For this we are hoping for even more support. Last year’s festival made positive memories that our kids will hold forever. That was made possible with the tremendous support from our community agencies such as Soil and Waste Management, Forestry, our local Cooperative Extension office, and generous sponsorships.
Leading up to this year’s Earth Day Festival, children enrolled in a program to plant flowers at the Senior Center visited local businesses, learned how to make candles, and created signs and posters promoting ways to help save our planet. Many of the youth even discovered the game of Pickle Ball and they loved it.
Throughout the season, participants of the program attend workshops, take field trips with hands-on experience working on the farm and interacting with farm animals, growing fruits and vegetables in hydrophobic towers. This year’s cohort will participate in a hybrid of The Apprentice/Shark Tank with the goal is to help launch three to five new youth businesses and announce the winners at the annual Hoedown this fall. We also hope to partner with Waste Management to have highway trash pickup events. For now, the cohort will meet at the Pelham Community Center until we have our very own youth center.
During the school year we are partnering with Piedmont Community College’s BLAST program and 4-H to offer after school activities in some of the local elementary schools.
We need your support to make this memorable Caswell County Earth Day Festival possible for our youth. We need sponsorships and other support as well as volunteers.
Please email us for more information and follow us on Facebook for more details on upcoming events.
Selena L. Thornton, MLS is a Mompreneur. A mother of two amazing sons – Immanuel and Isaiah LIV. She and her family reside in Pelham, NC where they have the largest Black Owned Blueberry Farm in Caswell County. Selena is a business professional and advocate for youth and farmers, which is how Cool Beans Ag Kids began.