GENEVA — Group after group, the young entrepreneurs walked to the stage and made their pitch.
Turn abandoned wood at construction sites into wedding rings.
Bake and sell Korean bread to spread food and culture.
Print T-shirts with telephone area codes and support local charities.
Ice cream with sprinkles spread throughout the treat, not just on top.
In the end, the judges for the annual Panther Pitch at the Geneva Community Center last Wednesday night were moved by a combination of love for humans and animals.
Geneva High School junior Cassidy Prejean was declared the pitch winner for a nonprofit project that would match up homeless residents with abandoned pets to help both support each other.
Prejean’s proposed organization — to be called FLARE for Finger Lakes Animal Rescue Effort — would partner with existing homeless support organizations to add the element of abandoned pets to help give emotional support to the homeless as they resurrect their lives.
“The positive impact on emotionally challenged people, to have a pet there to care for and love, will make a big difference,’’ Prejean told the judges.
The four judges — James Emery Elkin, a local bar and coffee shop owner; Amy Forbes and Craig Talmage of Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ entrepreneurial efforts; and Acting City Manager Sage Gerling — quizzed Prejean and her fellow competitors after each presentation.
“All the presentations were well done and impressive,’’ Gerling told the group.
Seniors Joan Jhang and Alan Cha gave the judges some samples of their unique Korean breads they felt could attract a non-Asian audience in Geneva. The judges were impressed but saw more promise in the nonprofit Prejean was pursuing.
These presentations were part of Geneva High School teacher Stephen Muzzi’s economics class. HWS students helped guide their Geneva High entrepreneurial talents as they prepared these pitches to “prospective investor judges.’’
The event was sponsored by Red Jacket Orchards. All students received Panther Pitch T-shirts made by local entrepreneur Chad Lahr, and the judges received baskets of food products made by Red Jacket and other local entrepreneurs.