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Turner Constructs Sustainable Concept

Senior Jessa Turner took another big step toward fulfilling her dream business, HomeGrown HideAways, at the recent Appalachian Ideas Network (AIN) Social Venture Showcase in Lexington. Turner’s concept stood out as the best among seven competitors from five colleges in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. AIN’s $2,500 prize will go into Turner’s business launching fund along with prize money from the Southeastern Kentucky Concept Challenge’s “Great Concept Award,” which she won in 2005.

Jessa Turner works on a sustainable building similar to her Homegrown HideAways

Turner, an independent sustainable building design major, developed the HomeGrown HideAways concept as an Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Summer Institute Fellow during the summer of 2005. Originally conceived as a for-profit business, Turner says her model has evolved into a nonprofit as she has “clarified her goals.” What has kept her going? According to the future social entrepreneur, the single most motivational factor driving her endeavors is “just being able to educate and empower others to take charge of their ecological impact.”

Turner’s EPG internship took her to Vermont to Yestermorrow Design/Build School in 2006 where she studied sustainable design, construction, woodworking and architectural craft. In constant pursuit of her dream, Turner’s short term goals for the business include completion of a comprehensive business plan, studying financial management and grantwriting/fundraising, incorporating HomeGrown HideAways as a nonprofit and continuing to conduct workshops in sustainable design in Berea and at Yestermorrow.

According to the WorldWatch Institute, buildings consume two-fifths of world energy production, not including the harvesting, manufacturing and transportation of building materials or water consumption and interior furnishings. When viewed in this manner, buildings are a major source of environmental degradation, and HomeGrown HideAways will work to change this as “an educational facility that seeks to empower the public through experiential workshops and community events that demonstrate sustainable and appropriate technologies for harmonious living within the natural carrying capacity of the planet’s resources," says Turner.

In addition to taking home the first place prize, highlights of the AIN showcase for Jessa included meeting other teams and learning about what other students are doing to make the world a better place and receiving a postgraduation job offer from a faculty member of the Tennessee delegation. Turner also expressed great enthusiasm at meeting and talking to Bill Richardson from Whitesburg, Ky., Appalshop founder and Berea College trustee, who also has strong connections to Yestermorrow.

Audra Cryder, program director for the University of Kentucky’s Appalachian Center, said the showcase was very successful this year and that participants thoroughly enjoyed the competition and a visit to Keeneland. In addition to Berea College, teams represented East Tennessee State University, Carson-Newman, North Georgia College and State University and UK.

UK leads the AIN regional entrepreneurship education initiative which encourages students to develop ventures aimed at creating positive social change. The annual showcase provides valuable feedback, networking and visibility to help motivate students to implement their ideas within Appalachian communities.

For more information on Jessa's accomplishments and her eco-friendly initiatives, please visit the following Web sites.

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