Students pitch business ideas at Engler Open

2018 Engler Open Winners
Jake Wilkins (left), Cheyenne Gerlach (middle) and Audrey Foster were named the winners of the 2018 Engler Open held March 13 in Lincoln. (Photo: Michelle Bassford)

March 28, 2019

Lincoln, Neb. — Forty undergraduate students from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln pitched their business ideas to a panel of expert judges at the Engler Open held March 13 at Turbine Flats in Lincoln.

The students were randomly divided into groups, each facing two judges. Participants gave a three minute pitch and answered two minutes of questions from judges. Two students from each group were selected to the finals, where a panel of three judges selected the winners.

Cheyenne Gerlach, an agricultural economics major from DeWitt, Neb., won with her business called Giving Gloves. The business donates 25 percent of its profits of the sale of high quality gloves to an organization that fights hunger in the customer’s home state.

Jake Wilkins, an agricultural education major from Ainsworth, Neb., won with his business called Pik-Up. The business connects drivers of pick-up trucks and trailers to businesses who need products hauled across Nebraska and the Midwest.

Audrey Foster, a textiles, merchandising and fashion design major from Berwyn, Neb., won with her customized, painted clothing business, which fills a vacancy in the market for people who want one-of-a-kind clothing creations.

Each of the winners received $1,000 to apply to their education.

The Engler program began in 2010 with a $20 million gift over 10 years from the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation. The purpose of the program is to identify students with the entrepreneurial drive and then foster development of professional skills conducive to success in applying entrepreneurism in agriculture and agribusiness.

For more information about the program, visit

Michelle Bassford
Nebraska Forest Service
Chief Experience Officer

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