CRD selects Lincoln students for Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute

Published 6:37 pm Thursday, May 9, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Lincoln County students Kasey Padgett and Judah Thornton have been selected by The Center for Rural Development to attend the 2024 Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI).

Kasey, a junior, and Judah, a freshman, at Lincoln County High School, will be putting their business and entrepreneurial skills to work this summer learning what it takes to manage and operate a successful business venture.

Kasey is the daughter of Ben and Michelle Padgett of Waynesburg. Judah is the son of Britt and Megan Ingram of Stanford.

Email newsletter signup

ELI, a summer youth leadership program for high school students in Southern and Eastern Kentucky, provides hands-on learning and real-life experiences for student entrepreneurs to turn their creative, innovative ideas into a start-up business.

“We want to give students the tools and resources they need to learn business and marketing strategies, teamwork, and essential problem-solving and leadership skills,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center for Rural Development. “These students are our region’s next generation of future business leaders and entrepreneurs, and we can’t wait to see the creative ideas they will bring to the table at our 2024 ELI Class.”

During the week, students work in teams to develop a business concept or product idea for a start-up business and pitch that idea to a panel of judges for a chance to earn a college scholarship. The winners of the Business Concept Challenge Competition, held on the final day of the program, will receive a Presidential Scholarship offer from Eastern Kentucky University.

Thirty high schools from 18 Kentucky counties will be attending the 2024 ELI program on July 29-Aug. 2, held on the campus of The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

ELI is presented by The Center for Rural Development in partnership with the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation and Eastern Kentucky University. High school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors within the Center’s 45-county primary service area are eligible to apply for ELI.

For more information about Rogers Scholars, please contact Amber Decker ( or Amy Ellis (, visit or call 606-677-6000.

Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, (KY-05), and other leaders, The Center for Rural Development is a nonprofit organization fueled by a mission to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.