Enterprising for Good

Enactus USF students teamed up with local Cub Scouts on a beach cleanup as part of a national competition.


Enactus USF project leader Ryan Nguyen’s presentation about the importance of clean oceans received an enthusiastic response from Cub Scout Pack 606. Photo by Dameion Lovett.


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (March 28, 2013) – Enactus at USF, a student group that describes itself as “entrepreneurs in action for a greater good,” recently partnered with Cub Scout Pack 606 in Riverview for a beach cleanup project at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin.


The project is part of the team’s participation in the o.b.® Call to Reduce Ocean Pollution Topic Competition. The tampon company is an Enactus corporate partner seeking to raise awareness and take action to reduce, reuse and recycle to decrease ocean pollution around the United States.


Enactus was formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) at the University of South Florida.


“The Scouts picked up 52 pounds of trash during the cleanup” said Dameion Lovett, the Enactus advisor who serves as USF’s associate director of University Scholarships & Financial Aid Services.  “And we had a lot of fun doing it.”


It may have been fun, and right up the group’s alley, but there’s also fierce competition involved in this project. There are monetary prizes, trophies and recognition at stake.


Enactus teams from 32 states are being called upon to use business and economic concepts and an entrepreneurial approach to raising awareness and educating people about the issue of ocean pollution. If the team members are successful with the quality of their projects and their execution, as well as their outreach efforts and in making a significant environmental impact, they could be in a position to win. 


Empowerment matters, too, and Enactus USF is right in synch.


“The children, their parents and teachers experienced firsthand the difference they can make by doing something so direct and so useful, we all felt empowered,” said Lovett. “They were really surprised to see how much they could accomplish in just a few hours.”


The beach cleanup was only one part of the team’s overall plan. Team members attended a Scout meeting and presented an interactive program that involved the boys in learning why the environment is so important. 


The Cub Scouts responded well.


Thang “Ryan” Nguyen, the project’s founder and leader, a sophomore and marketing major, said, “One parent told me he was surprised that our presentation about ocean pollution could hold the boys’ attention for almost an hour, since they usually ran everywhere after 20 minutes.”  He added, “After the presentation, the parents and the kids thanked me for the presentation and said it was inspiring and awesome. In fact, I was blown away by their engagement and curiosity.”


The Enactus members gained a lot as well.


“As a biology major, pollution and the environment are two topics that always sparked interest in me,” said junior Gonzalo Moretta, the project team’s co-founder. “Being able to apply my skills and devote my time to solving problems presented in these two fields creates not only personal satisfaction but a sense of accomplishment,”


For freshman Dominique Rocco, a marketing major, this was an important learning experience and an opportunity for self-discovery.


“I feel like this project is a great way to learn about something I do not know much about,” she said. “I have never been a science person and this experience has given me a lot of insight into pollution in our oceans and I think this is a great opportunity to step up and show others how much I can really bring to the table.”


Also in development is a website, kidocean.com, now under construction. So far the team has finished the frame and is building content.


“I was caught off guard by the amount of challenges posed by this project,” said Nguyen. “During the process, I also taught myself to code in order to build the website, which is a small achievement for me.”


He’s a quick study. Nguyen said the website has three parts, for students, parents and teachers and “each part has information about ocean pollution, the causes, impacts, prevention, and recycling with different levels of difficulty related to each audience.”


One highlight is a section of “mini games” about the ocean for the kids that are from the National Geographic and Discovery sites. “The parents also have the same games with extra information so they can talk with and teach their kids while playing with them. If the game is about river pollution, there will be information about river pollution,” Nguyen said.

Teaching materials and links to ocean-related organizations will also be available to encourage more opportunities to get and stay involved. 


"Different from other projects we do at Enactus at USF, Kid Ocean is meant to be a separate non-profit in the future, and building it takes a good deal of collective business knowledge,” said Nguyen. “In fact, it took us three months of planning before the project took off. Behind our products – the website and the presentation – is a series of planning and executing processes, that is, strategy discussions, recruiting, idea testing, progress evaluations, etc. to name a few."


Over 500 active universities with more than 21,000 active students comprise Enactus in the United States. Worldwide, the organization is in 39 countries and involves more than 62,000 students.


According to the parent organization’s website, “Enactus is a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to enable human progress. We establish student programs on campuses across the nation. Enactus students apply business concepts to develop community outreach projects, transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world.”


The o.b.® Call to Reduce Ocean Pollution Topic Competition is one example.


Enactus USF has to be on top of its game in the midst of this formidable organization.  But whatever the outcome, all the work is for a good cause. Enactus chapters around the country have contributed more than 816,000 student volunteer hours.  At USF the team has accomplished a great deal. It is responsible for the Suit-A-Bull program, the free water bottle fill-up stations and other community outreach projects.


“This club represents a business in a sense because in order to have a successful club, you need to market your beliefs and ideas to others in such a way that they will buy into your goal, much like a product. Growing the club to a level where just its name carries weight will be difficult, but it is just another challenge I look forward to working on,” said Jason Ribero, a freshman finance major.


The other members of the team are senior and finance major Arian Howard, freshman accounting major Ashley Piasecki, and art major and senior Aisha Tazi. They are all hopeful about winning.


"We are in to win. First prize would be nice, but the kids are more important to us. The competition was our starting point, but we will keep going forward," said Nguyen.


The top prize is $7,500, followed by $5,000 and $2,500 for second and third place. Finalists – five in all – can win $1000. Winners will be announced at the 2013 Enactus United States National Exposition in May 21-23 in Kansas City, MO.


Nguyen and his teammates are encouraging more students to get involved.


“We need help from everyone who cares about the ocean and the Earth. We welcome students from all majors and there are plenty or real leadership opportunities in which they can apply whatever skills and talents they have.” 


For more information about Enactus USF, contact Ryan Nguyen at thangtat@mail.usf.edu.


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.