WHEELING, W.Va. — When John Marshall High School senior Sierra Cook heard her name called at the inaugural West Virginia Statewide High School Business Plan Competition this past weekend, she couldn’t believe her business plan had won first place statewide.
“I was so surprised,” Cook said. “I was just shocked because there were other people with really good ideas.”
It’s really no surprise Cook’s unique business plan stole the show though. Cook’s concept “Marshall Mushrooms” is a small local business that would grow, harvest and sell shiitake and maitake mushrooms to restaurants, grocery stores and health food stores in the Ohio Valley.
The idea won Cook a $10,000 college scholarship to her choice of nine higher education institutions in the state. Cook’s said she was inspired to start her business plan when she discovered her marketing teacher Cindy Nicholson took mushroom extract pills for her health.
“I became really interested in the fact that a mushroom could have so many health benefits,” Cook said.
In Cook’s 15-page business proposal, John Marshall High School students would be employed to grow mushrooms on a local farm and then package and sell them to surrounding businesses. The mushrooms could be used in medicines, finely chopped to be used as a meat substitute for local restaurants or incorporated into beauty products.
Cook’s plan stands out as there are no mushroom manufacturers in West Virginia, Nicholson said…