CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- How does a community empower youths and value their ideas?
By listening to them, Cullen Naumoff says.
Naumoff, project manager for the Charleston Area Alliance's Vision 2030 economic development roadmap, posed that question and answer to Rotary Club members during a monthly Rotary meeting Monday.
Career and technical students in Boone, Clay, Kanawha, Lincoln and Putnam counties will get to share their visions for the valley at West Virginia's first TEDx Kanawha Valley series, which is slated for May 1.
TEDx is a locally organized version of the international nonprofit speaker series TED, which is an acronym for technology, entertainment and design.
"What we hear from the industry is that they need students who are prepared with 'soft skills,' so providing a forum for students to hone those communication and presentation skills is important for employment," Naumoff said. "With [career and technical] students, we want to empower their good ideas on an international stage by providing that forum.
"They could say, 'Hey, I have a good idea, let's build off of this.' We're providing a stage to empower youth ideas."
Naumoff said career and technical students from the Kanawha Valley are already organized into 25 teams. Each team has until March 1 to create a six-minute video pitch that outlines their ideas for the future of the Kanawha Valley.
Twelve finalist teams will be paired with business mentors. They will give their "TED Talks" -- presentations -- at the May 1 speaker series in Charleston. The winning team will take home scholarships, she said.
The TEDx series is one of a number of initiatives that have derived from the Alliance's Vision 2030 in the past year.
Vision 2030 is a 20-year economic development roadmap for the Kanawha Valley. The plan's purpose is to create jobs and strengthen the economy of the region.
Participants in the Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneur Initiative (SAGE) will craft business and production plans to sell the produce they grow to local food suppliers, Naumoff said.
"We're teaching people how to grow food and how it can be an economic opportunity," Naumoff said.