Young Entrepreneur Spotlight
Saratoga craftsman wins Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge award
Leatherwork has been a part of Levi Hatch’s life for about as long as he can remember. His family owns and operates Hatch Tack from their home on the TA Ranch, where they handcraft custom leather goods, often made-to-order.
Levi, the oldest of four children, learned the craft when he was starting school.
“I started practicing in kindergarten, and I’m going into eighth grade,” Levi said. “I really started making stuff in second grade, when I made a wallet for my mom. It kept getting bigger, and now I do rifle scabbards.”
Levi earned the 4-H Craftsman Award for his Wyoming Young Entrepreneur Initiative entry, “Handcrafted Rifle Scabbards,” which he creates in conjunction with Hatch Tack. The Wyoming Young Entrepreneur Initiative is hosted by the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance, and encourages young people to explore and practice entrepreneurship, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The Pitch Challenge for Winter 2021 provided a platform for young people across the state to apply these skills, and Levi got involved through 4-H.
Hatch Tack is a Platte Valley mainstay, with handcrafted leatherwork for sale at Sweet Marie’s and Koyote Sports in downtown Saratoga. They also have an online store, and Levi has traveled with his mom, Siara Hatch, to places like Texas for the WRCA Finals. They bring along belts, spur straps, saddle bags and more.
“My husband and I started the business just after we got married,” Siara Hatch said. “We got married in December and that January, I started learning.”
Siara said her husband Cordell first learned the craft fixing saddles in college, and he built the family’s first saddle bearing the Hatch name when she was pregnant with their second baby. They now have four children, and each one has something to work on.
“Everybody has a little project that they do, and they each earn a little money from it,” Siara said. Her oldest three children are boys, the fourth a girl.
“The boys go to football camp, and they have earned enough to pay their own way,” she said.
Levi learned of the Wyoming Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge through his participation in Saratoga’s Finest 4-H Club. At the end of each year, 4-H members put together a record book of all the things they are working on, Emily Haver, Carbon County extension educator. She thought Levi would be perfect for the Pitch Challenge while reading his.
“The record book holds all the things they are doing, with the goals they set and their experiences and project plans, pictures and a 4H story,” Haver said. “I read a couple stories, and they had turned what they are passionate about, their ‘spark,’ into money-makers. I was reading those thinking about the Pitch Challenge.”
She reached out to the Hatch family, and Levi agreed to enter the next challenge.
“He’s a quiet, reserved kid, but I met with him every week for a month,” Haver said. “I loved it, seeing his personality come through.”
Levi and Haver met several Fridays on Zoom to work on his entry, focusing on critical thinking, creativity, teamwork and prototyping — all practices of entrepreneurial thinking.
“I enjoyed it, and I know he did too,” Haver said. “He is very responsible, and it was neat. It’s hard to find one-on-one opportunities as the 4H coordinator for the whole county. You don’t always have time, and so I really appreciate this opportunity. I am so glad that he won. He deserves it.”
Levi said his plan is to continue growing his business while saving for college or football camp or whatever might come his way. He recommends the Pitch Challenge, but said that other kids might want to start out with a smaller 4-H project and ease their way in.
“When I started with 4-H, my first year I did leathercraft. I did a couple of spur straps, which are harder than wallets. Then I did belts and more spur straps, and started getting my stuff to state,” Levi said. Now he and his family routinely travel to ranch rodeos to offer their products for sale.
WYAA Director Michelle Sullivan said that the Alliance is proud to encourage young people as they develop valuable skills to help them excel today, and into the future.
“Young people are truly making a difference in their communities. It was wonderful to see the diverse ways they answered the challenge to develop an idea for a business innovation or social solution,” Sullivan said. “It demonstrates that we develop wealth not only by growing our economy but through growing our connection to community.”
For Levi, work will continue in his family’s workshop on the ranch.
“I can get away from my brothers,” he smiled. “I pick my designs, or depending on what the client wants, I will make whatever they order.”
This story is part of the series by Carrie Haderlie. Published August 12, 2021.
Photo Information: Levi Hatch displays his products. PC: Carrie Haderlie
ABOUT THE WYOMING YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR INITIATIVE:
Wyoming kids are not just about Wyoming’s future, we want to cultivate their abilities to solve problems today. The Wyoming Young Entrepreneur Initiative provides opportunities for young people to practice skills and to give an avenue for them to be problem solvers and innovators for Wyoming’s future. Skills such as empathy, the identification of problems, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork and prototyping are developed as a part of the practice of entrepreneurial thinking. Learn more at wyafterschoolalliance.org/wyoming-young-entrepreneur-initiative.
Mission: The Wyoming Afterschool Alliance is a statewide network working to create the conditions for young people to reach their full potential. We are a priority fund of the Wyoming Community Foundation.
WYOMING AFTERSCHOOL ALLIANCE
1472 N. 5th Street, Suite 201
Laramie, WY 82072
AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAMS IN WYOMING ARE HIGH-QUALITY, EDUCATION-FOCUSED, SAFE PLACES FOR ALL OF WYOMING’S YOUTH. QUALITY PRACTICES HELP MAKE THIS POSSIBLE!
WYOMING PROGRAM QUALITY PRACTICES
(PQPs) are research-based guidelines that provide a common understanding of the essential components of quality practice in afterschool and youth development programs.
The PQPs provide programs, communities and stakeholders with a way to voluntarily examine the quality of programs and to engage in important discussions about program quality. They set the stage for development of a comprehensive and coordinated system of services that will best serve Wyoming’s children and youth. Most of all, they send the message that we believe quality is important, and we hold ourselves accountable for improving quality.
WYOMING PROGRAM QUALITY PRACTICES WEBINAR
The Wyoming Afterschool Alliance with assistance from National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST – http://www.niost.org/) produced an informative 20-minute webinar to walk through the PQPs and information about how to put them into practice in your afterschool program!
- Section 1: Introduction to the Wyoming Program Quality Practice
- Section 2: Putting the PQPs into Practice
- Section 3: Connecting Quality
The webinar was produced in partnership with Wyoming afterschool professionals: Tamera Allen – Program Director of Double AAces in Weston County SD #1, Karen Bierhaus – Education Consultant with 21st CCLC at the Wyoming Department of Education, Shannon Christian – Executive Director of the Worland Youth Learning Center, Kei Owen – former Grant Assistant with the Natrona County Prevention Coalition, Tamra Petersen – Program Coordinator with the Uinta County BOES Education Center, and Christine Turner – former Program Director with Lincoln County School District #1.
WYOMING PROGRAM QUALITY PRACTICES USER GUIDE
This user guide describes how the PQPs fit into WYAA’s quality improvement efforts and offers concrete ways to use the PQPs. All school age, afterschool, and youth development programs in Wyoming can use this guide to improve their programming. This guide may also be a resource for families, community members, funders, and advocates who partner with program providers to improve outcomes for children and youth.
The user guide provides context for the eight domains of the PQPs:
- Physical Environment, Curriculum, and Program Activities
- Assessment, Planning, and Improvement
- Child and Youth Engagement
- Families and Communities
- Safety, Health, and Wellness
- Leadership and Administration
- Professional Development
WYOMING PROGRAM QUALITY PRACTICES SELF ASSESSMENT
This tool was designed to help afterschool and youth development professionals develop high-quality out-of-school time programs. It may also be a useful checklist for families. This self-assessment is a companion to the PQPs, which are based on research on best practices in programs for afterschool and youth development.
The National Afterschool Alliance’s Core Knowledge and Competencies enable afterschool and youth development practitioners to demonstrate expertise and gain a higher level of recognition within their communities–particularly from school officials–that has long been sought after.
THE STATE OF AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAMMING IN WYOMING: AN ASSESSMENT OF NEEDS AND PERCEPTIONSS
In 2010, the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance, a C.S. Mott Foundation Statewide Afterschool Network and an initiative of the Wyoming Community Foundation, launched a research project to survey the capacity of public and private afterschool systems and to assess their effectiveness across Wyoming.
APAS – AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAM ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
Program assessment is invaluable to creating the highest quality afterschool programs. WYAA, with support from National Institute of Out of School Time (NIOST) implemented the initiative.
Outcomes from APAS include:
- An upward trend in attitudes, skills and behaviors of youth
- Peer networking and relationship building between programs
- A statewide shared vision and understanding of high quality afterschool and OST programming
WYOMING CAREER DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM REPORT
The Wyoming Career Development System Report identifies six components of a comprehensive career development system and makes recommendations for advancing each component in Wyoming. A cross-sector, continuum approach (one that supports those who serve a broad range of ages) is the most cost-effective way to provide quality programming for children and youth. With this in mind, these recommendations build on current systems and initiatives established in the early childhood field.