Belleview students win cash, prizes in "Shark Tank" style competition

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MARION COUNTY, Fla., (WCJB) -- As the saying goes, do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life...well students at Belleview High School are learning that lesson early on.

Groups of Marion County students recently competed in a "Shark Tank" business plan competition. TV20's Olana Osborn introduces us to the winning team that says their cash prize was a treat, but they came away with more than just money.

“It was nerve-racking at times," said Payton Davis, a freshman at BHS, "But it was really exciting to be able to make our own business on something that was special to us.”

What began as a project for their ag-business class, landed them a winning spot at a Marion County youth business plan competition.

They closed their textbooks, and got to work, using critical thinking skills.

“When you have five different people with different ideas, it’s kind of hard sometimes and you have to compromise," Payton said, "So it was a really good experience that gave me more skills that I’ll use later.”

The idea originally came from Payton...“I thought of it in 7th grade when we were shopping at Rural King, and I was looking for cattle halters for my cows,” but she couldn't find halters that were sturdy and colorful -- so she and her team created Colorful Creations for Cattle...the only customizable halters with welded chains and connectors that won't break while training or showing cattle.

"Learning by doing, which is part of the FFA model, is the best way to learn," said Amy Davis, Payton's mom and the FFA teacher at BHS.

The students had to create a business plan and pitch it to local business owners, who gave them feedback and chose the winner. The students and their FFA advisor agree the competition was worth more than a trophy...but the trophy is nice, too.

“They’re getting real life skills," Amy said, "They’re having to get creative, think outside the box, problem solve, and come up with marketing tools. I am not the type of person that likes ‘a, b, c, d, e,’ multiple choice tests, so this is the way I love to teach.”

The students won $4,000 dollars, a 1-year partnership with the Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership, a trophy, and a spot on the front cover of the CEP's magazine.