Transform Your Teens, Transform Your Community
Bring the proven Mentor Match Teen Entrepreneur Program to your community, and watch teens create economic opportunity for themselves and others!
To introduce rural teens to entrepreneurship and business as a career path, so they can create economic opportunities for themselves and others.
Results We're Proud Of
Mentor Match Stories
Erich joined the first year of the Mentor Match program as a junior. When his first business failed after its initial launch, he and his business partner, Marcus Lynn, decided to join three others, and help create Blue Mountain Boys Recycling. When three of the five boys graduated, Erich and junior Marcus bought out their partners, came back to the program their senior year, and further grew the business, even being featured in a video for the program’s founder, Oregon Community Foundation.
As a Ford Foundation Scholar, Erich headed to Lewis & Clark College and co-founded the entrepreneur club there. With his roommate as a new partner, they evolved Blue Mountain Boys Recycling into Intrepid Recycling, focusing on recycling scrap metal for farmers and ranchers around the state of Oregon. After a semester in Italy, Erich wanted to see more of the world, and he has built his career after college around “adventure with purpose.” Today Erich is an up-and-coming adventure media entrepreneur. His work has taken him to all seven continents, from Mount Everest to Antarctica, as a cameraman and social media expert for National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen, and others.
Erich is currently a cameraman on the Nat Geo show, Life Below Zero. He is also a professional ski mountaineer and content creator for several brands in the outdoor industry. With his younger brother Kyle, also a former Mentor Matcher working as a cameraman for Nicklen and others, they recently returned to Wallowa County for a visit, and presented a free, impromptu “film festival” showing three of the projects they’ve worked on, including one that drew attention to an environmental crisis off the coast of Norway that caused the government to change their policy towards oil drilling in the area.
Matthew joined the first year of the Mentor Match program, 2010-2011. When a 28 year-old staff accountant who had graduated from Eastern Oregon University came to the class to talk about accounting as a career choice, Matt made a decision to follow a similar path. When the Mentor Match program had teens write their own personal mission statements, Matt’s was only three words: Financially Stable Family.
Matt started at EOU but transferred to Clackamas Community College, where he received his associate degree, going back to EOU to earn his Bachelor of Science in Accounting. As a student, Matthew created Verbal Optics, a sunglasses company that ultimately failed but provided real world experience. When he married and his first child was on the way, it was time to focus on paying the bills. Right after college graduation, Matthew landed a job back in his hometown of Enterprise, as a staff accountant for Wallowa Memorial Hospital. He has since been promoted to Controller, and is getting his MBA, courtesy of the hospital. Today, Matt and his wife own two homes, one they rent out, and are happily raising two little girls, in the community he grew up in.
Shelby had two businesses as a Mentor Matcher in 2011-2012. The first was a homemade pomegranate skin care product, but when she and her partner tried it out on their boyfriends it stained their faces berry red. Their next effort involved hand-painted glasses, and was barely successful. But the seed of entrepreneurship had been planted.
Shelby headed to Headmaster’s School of Design in Lewiston, Idaho, two months after graduating from Enterprise High School, going to school from 8 am – 5 pm and working at Arby’s 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm. Looking for an easier way to support herself, Shelby invested $99 in a wellness company called It Works! After working at a salon in Lewiston, Shelby decided to try city life and moved to Boise, but it was not for her. Shelby moved back to Lewiston, found an amazing job at a salon. Shelby had dabbled here and there with It Works!, but after finding out she was pregnant, she poured herself into the business, earning over $20,000 in bonuses, traveling to conferences and meeting inspiring women. She also worked hard in the salon, making more money than she ever imagined.
After deciding to move back to her hometown to raise her son, Shelby took a huge leap of faith. She borrowed $5,000 on her sister and brother-in-law’s credit card, and opened her own salon on Main Street in Joseph.. Despite being a single mother and losing her own mother during this time, the business was so successful Shelby paid off the loan in full in just one year. In May of 2019, she expanded into a larger facility, and remodeled it into the salon of her dreams. Today, Roots Salon is a thriving business, with two other beauticians renting space.
This Oregon Community Foundation video was made in the spring of 2012 about the Eastern Oregon counties that received funding for tutoring and mentoring programs, of which Mentor Match was one. Our story highlights Marcus Lynn and Erich Roepke, who founded Blue Mountain Boys Recycling as a result of their work in our program.
Nine years later, this is where Marcus and Erich are now.
Marcus Lynn: Mentor Match 2010-2012
Marcus was a state champion track star in multiple running events, a basketball and football stand-out, being selected for the prestigious Shriners East-West Football Game his senior year. Marcus left Lane Community College after his freshman year and came back to Wallowa County. Through Mentor Match connections, he applied for and received an apprenticeship with a local real estate company, who paid for him to get his real estate license. At the time, Marcus, aged 21, was the youngest person in the State of Oregon to receive their license. He started volunteering as a coach for 5th and 6th grade basketball and junior high football, and also helped at the Wallowa Valley Health Care Foundation breast cancer awareness run/walk every year. After two years in real estate, he was offered a job at Bank of Eastern Oregon, which he took to gain more financial stability and healthcare benefits. Today, Marcus is a new accounts manager. He continues to volunteer as a coach and for the Foundation. He is in a healthy, long-term relationship with a fellow Mentor Matcher and state track champion who works in property management, and has a leather business on the side.
Erich Roepke: Mentor Match 2010-2012
Erich attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland as a Ford Family Scholar. He co-founded the entrepreneurship club there, and won a business plan contest with an iteration of Blue Mountain Boys Recycling, which he renamed Intrepid Recycling. Intrepid Recycling took the Blue Mountain Boys model and expanded it to focus on collecting and recycling the scrap metal found on ranches and farms around the state of Oregon. The business allowed Erich and his business partners Stein and Kyle (his younger brother, also a Mentor Matcher) to make significant money while going to school. After spending a semester in Italy, Erich wanted to continue traveling. Today, Erich makes his living as a social media adventure entrepreneur and photographer. His work has taken him to all seven continents. With Stein and Kyle, Erich creates films and videos about their outdoor adventures, and they have brought attention to environmental issues such as plastic bottles in Antarctica. Erich has worked with National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen, and on the show Life Below Zero.
Founder, Mentor Match Teen Entrepeneur Program
Stacy Green has over 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, and advertising, the last 25 in rural northeast Oregon. After realizing a need to get more teens interested in business and entrepreneurship, Stacy created the Mentor Match Teen Entrepreneur Program, to teach juniors and seniors in high school how to become successful entrepreneurs.
Today, the Mentor Match program has created over 80 successful teen entrepreneurs. Some have even gone on to make their livings entrepreneurs, and many have returned to Wallowa County to bring critical business skills like accounting, marketing, communications, and leadership to the business community.
May 19th Overview Presentation
If you missed our May Overview Presentation you can catch it here. Learn how you can bring this proven program to your community, hear from graduates, mentors, and nonprofit leaders how this program has impacted young lives in rural Oregon.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Mentor Match program is designed for juniors and seniors in high school who want to create, launch and run their own for-profit business, with the resources they have available to them. They can work alone or with a partner. The program is outside the school system, so there are no grades. Since they run their business and own all rights to it, they keep the money they earn. The Mentor Match program provides guidance in meetings held every other week, where the advisor addresses questions about product/service development, marketing, financial management, and more. Business leaders and entrepreneurs are invited to talk with students and share their experiences and lessons-learned. Field trips to local and regional businesses are also part of the program.
The Mentor Match program launched in 2010 in Wallowa County, Oregon, and the benefits to teens have been well-documented. What teens get out of this program that is unique compared to other extracurricular activities is the experience of creating their own business from the resources they have available to them. Teens learn they can create something -- regardless of income, resources, academic achievement, or prior experience. The Mentor Match program shows them that it’s okay to take a risk, and even fail, because you will learn from that experience, and use that knowledge to be more successful in the next attempt. The confidence that has come from this has helped turn more teens into entrepreneurs -- with more than 10% of teens in the program making their livings full-time as entrepreneurs by the age of 25, and another 20% creating side hustles to help pay for education or in addition to full-time jobs. Teens also learn how to chart a successful path for themselves after high school, regardless of resources, that has proven invaluable for teens from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Mentor Match program was developed to address a crisis in rural Wallowa County: the outmigration of teens and our inability to attract and retain young families and the workforce skills young people can bring to the business community. In the early 2000s, high school students were overwhelmingly choosing K-12 education as their career choice, yet Wallowa County was experiencing teacher lay-offs due to drastically declining enrollments. The teens then switched to healthcare fields like physical therapist, nurse and x-ray technician, again guaranteeing we would likely not see them in our country again. The Mentor Match program aimed to introduce teens to business and entrepreneurship as a career/educational choice, so we could hope to bring them back to the community with the skills business owners need to grow and thrive, and hopefully inspire some to create their own business. We now have documented proof that we have succeeded in getting more than 20% back within six years of graduating, with degrees in accounting, computer science, marketing/communications and business administration. The program has helped non-college-bound teens find career paths in property management, banking, real estate, hospitality and retail. A huge benefit to the community has been finding productive career paths for those most at-risk teens, who have become contributors in stable jobs rather than bouncing from one low-wage job to the next. With this many teens coming back and working productively in our business community, they have helped attract other young people to the area, and they are getting married, having children, buying homes, and getting involved in the community.
For the most successful outcome, you need to commit to three years of the program. That includes funding each year, plus a facilitator who participates in our mandatory training, a physical space to hold meetings, and liability insurance coverage. If there is a local nonprofit or community organization that can provide physical space, funding support, and liability through their own insurance, that is ideal.
The program is designed to meet every other week for 90 minutes in the evenings. Youth “best practices” requires food be provided as well. The weeks there is class time, expect to prepare for two hours, then have two hours for the class time. On weeks there is no class, minor follow up tasks might be emailing or calling a guest speaker, answering questions for a teen who is launching, etc. There is often reporting to the funding organization, the organizing and preparation of food, speaking at local civic organizations about the program, organizing and attending field trips to local entrepreneurs, promoting the program, sending information to the newspaper, or posting on a social media site created for the program. Expect an advisor/facilitator to average 15-20 hours per month.
The advisor needs to commit to the initial training, held in August or September of each year. We provide all the information, initial training, and on-going coaching to help you successfully transform your teens and your community using the Mentor Match Teen Entrepreneur program. This includes access to the Reinventing Rural platform, with the Mentor Match program presented in 12 Modules to help you guide your teens to entrepreneurial success as well as provide critical professional and personal development.
Start Transforming Teens so they can Transform Your Community!
Interested in bringing a Mentor Match Teen Entrepreneur program to your community? Answer the questions below, and we will set up your initial consultation to see how you can launch the proven Mentor Match Teen Entrepreneur Program in your community!