Students from across Nebraska met with Gov. Pete Ricketts earlier this week to celebrate their success in the December “Find Your Genius” challenge and discuss the future of the state’s workforce.

The winners of the challenge, including students from Battle Creek High School, met with Ricketts at the state Capitol to talk about their accomplishments and gain insight on how young people can connect to real-world industries while still in school, according to a Find Your Genius media release.

Some students had to meet Ricketts through video conference because they couldn’t attend the in-person celebration.

Find Your Genius is an online platform that gives young people the opportunity to solve real-world business problems through online challenges that engage in career discovery and personal growth.

The challenges enable young people ages 13-22 to participate in solving actual business problems in an online, game-like forum. In the December challenge, Find Your Genius partnered with Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska Inc. and asked students to create a business idea that solved one of two proposed issues: poverty or mental and emotional stress.

Four Battle Creek High School students received awards in the statewide competition: seniors Kylee McLean, Hannah Maslonka, Kolby Heller and Slate Kraft.

Ricketts also encouraged the students to take their ideas one step further and reach out to prospective industries in Nebraska for experience and job opportunities.

"This is really cool and innovative stuff. It gets you thinking about other connected problems and solutions and how they fit together," Ricketts said. “In the state of Nebraska, we have been trying to create that pipeline from you (the students) to companies.”

Students received prize money for their winning efforts, and several have received paid internship offers and secured positions with regional companies while others have received offers to fund their business ideas.

The next Find Your Genius challenge is set to take place in April.

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