New Glarus Middle School student wins ‘Wisconsin YES!’

Jonah Thompson, an 8th grader at New Glarus Middle School developing a beekeeping-related company, is the grand prize winner in Wisconsin YES!, a youth business plan contest for students in middle and high school.    

Thompson produces honey, beeswax and candles, while offering pollination services for local Green County farmers. His business, T Boys Honey, offers a new winter bee box and a pollinator software concept to assist farmers with understanding the economic impact a hive may have on crop yields.

T Boys Honey currently manages four pollinator contracts in Green County. Thompson is a member of the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association.

Thompson, a self-taught bee keeper with more than five years of experience, presented his plan to about 300 people at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in
Madison during the awards luncheon for the Governor’s Business Plan Contest on June 4. He will attend New Glarus High School in the fall.


Students had the opportunity to submit their ideas in a 250-word online summary to compete in Phase 1 of the contest.  Professionals from across the state acted as judges, provided feedback and scored the ideas. The top 25 entries were selected to move on to Phase 2, where they submitted 1,000-word executive summaries covering company overview; product or service description; customer definition; market description, size and sales strategy; competition; management team; financials; and capital needs.

Second place was awarded to Leah Westcott and Ella VanHaren for their entry The Nutrimen, a small device that detects allergen ingredients in food and scans food labels for information and allergens. Cole Johnstone and Luke Hyndiuk received third place for their entry PictureShirt, a solar-powered t-shirt that uses electroluminescent flexible strips to display digital images. All four students attend Pilgrim Park Middle School in Brookfield.

The recipient of the 2014 Wisconsin YES “Gold Star Teacher” Award is Barb Wood from Pilgrim Park Middle School in Elm Grove. for her extraordinary efforts in involving and coaching students throughout the Wisconsin YES contest process.

Student finalists include: Luke Anderson, Optech Anthropendo; Francesca Bontempo, DreamCatcher 2.0; Adam Converse, Student; Stephen Foley, SafeMind; Nick Frigerio, SnowBoard Trainer; Meghan Gain, GenniMath; Carolann Grzybowski, Pang – Depression Helper; Maggie Heinemann, 4Angels Beekeeping; Josh Horner, Kwik Line; Renee Kar-Johnson, CloudWish; Zach Kellner, Voice Capturing Headset; Isabella Koch, Utrack; Caroline Lieu, Polar Shield-Pajamas; Sean McCall, FIRST Team 2202 BEAST Robotics; Sara Mejac, CamGloves; Anaya Patel, SafeKnobs; Joshua Schwarz, HydroSole; Eric Sinson, Waxed Hockey Tape; Jonah Thompson, T Boys Honey – Economic Impact of Beehives on Farmland; Ella Van Haren, Lingua; Martin Wilson, ManiFree; Jan Wodnicki, SmartWave Microwave; and Sabrina Zhong, Burnboo.

Finalists, ranging from high school seniors to middle school students, represent a mix of communities around the state, such as Brookfield, Elm Grove, Franklin, Green Bay, Madison, New Glarus and Waunakee.

The Tech Council produces the contest, with major sponsorship from WEA Trust and IBM. Contest partners thus far include Department of Financial Institutions, Department of Public Instruction, Make a Difference Wisconsin, Project Lead the Way Wisconsin, STEM Forward, Wisconsin Association of School Boards and Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers.

Modeled after the successful Governor’s Business Plan Contest, Wisconsin YES! is designed to teach students how innovation in science and technology fields can be developed into plausible business plans.  It is an opportunity for students to explore the connections between science, technology and entrepreneurship, and for educators and judges to cultivate an interest in these arenas.

Visit to learn more.