Local shop owners teamed up with special needs students in Morgan County to help launch their very own “small business” by selling handcrafted products for dogs out of the Over Yonder Outpost in Rutledge.
Over Yonder Outpost is a camping and outdoors store with “a community twist,” said Buzbee, who jumped at the chance to showcase the talents of local high school students in her shop
“At the Over Yonder Outpost, we believe in supporting and promoting the talents in our local community,” said owner Jen Buzbee. “We had a need to sell dog toys and these students worked quickly to fill it. Some of these teens are gearing up to graduate. These students have so many diverse abilities, I hope other businesses open their doors to see the opportunities that these special students can provide.”
Morgan County High School teachers Beth Dennard and Sonya Meyer merged their special needs classes to create an “unofficial small business” with their students called “Skytastic,” a unique line of dog toys, bandanas, and treats.
The blossoming business is named after special needs students’ therapy dog, Skye, who is sponsored by Main Street Vet in Madison.
“It is the beginning of what will hopefully become a line of dog toys, bandanas and treats,” said Dennard. “The possibilities are endless.”
A MCHS student, Alexis Mobley, who is in Katie Harris’s marketing class, designed a logo for Skytastic.
“The teachers at MCHS hope that Skytastic can become an opportunity for those students to grow and expand,” said Dennard.
According to Dennard, the new business was born out of a one-time Project Based Learning activity with Brianna Stoop’s Animal Science class.
“The high school tennis team donated old tennis balls and faculty brought in old T-shirts. Then the special needs students worked with Stoop’s students to create dog toys,” explained Dennard.
“The first batch of dog toys are now for sale at Over Yonder Outpost. Some of the students have already started cutting small, medium, and large bandannas to sell soon as well. They have made several batches of treats for Skye to test.”
MCHS teachers are hoping this opportunity helps their students better navigate the future.
“The students in their classrooms participate in Community-Based Instruction everyday. This allows them to go out to job sites in our community and develop entry level job skills such as washing tables, sweeping floors, and folding laundry,” explained Dennard. “They also complete job sites while at school and develop independent skills when in the classroom. However, when the students graduate there are little or no options.”
Over Yonder Outpost, owned and operated by Jen Buzbee and Sara Ghann, will utilize most of the profits to invest back into these special needs students.
“Y’all come on Over Yonder and purchase these amazing dog toys,” said Buzbee. “Your pups will not be disappointed. Eighty percent of sales go right back to helping the students to provide other cool toys at Over Yonder Outpost.”
Over Yonder Outpost is located at 141 FairPlay Street in Downtown Rutledge.