Boone Area Chamber Of Commerce Presents Inaugural 4 Under 40 Awards

Four emerging leaders and a community-minded mentor were honored during the inaugural Boone Area Chamber of Commerce 4 Under 40 Awards luncheon. The event was held Wednesday at the Holmes Convocation Center on the campus of Appalachian State University and was presented by Appalachian Commercial Real Estate.

Over 30 nominations were submitted by local community members and 16 finalists were recognized during the event. Nominees were sought in the categories of non-profit business, business owner, education, and rising star. A biography of each award winner is listed below:

Non Profit Business: Jennifer Warren, Western Youth Network

Jennifer Warren is serving her 11th year as the Executive Director and 15th year overall with Western Youth Network. During her tenure, WYN has expanded services to provide individualized support to over 200 area youth each year. Warren has worked to increase fundraising through grants, sponsorships, and creative programming that enables WYN to invest resources in youth outreach during the pivotal 5th-10th grade years. In addition to her time at WYN, Warren serves on numerous volunteer boards and recently helped organize the State of the Child event held in Boone in early May. Warren received a B.A. in English from Pfeiffer University and a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Appalachian State. She also holds a Certificate of Non-Profit Management from Duke University.

Additional finalists: Sonya Hamby, Hospitality House; Danny Wilcox, We Can So You Can Foundation; Elizabeth Young, The Hunger and Health Coalition


Business Owner: Grant Seldomridge, River & Earth Adventure, Inc.

Grant Seldomridge has owned and operated River and Earth Adventures, Inc for 11 years. In 2006, Seldomridge completed his B.S. in Recreation Management from Appalachian State, and immediately started his business with his wife Laura as his only other employee. Today, River & Earth Adventures operates five locations in two states and employees dozens of full-time and seasonal staff members. Seldomridge donates adventure trips to non-profit businesses throughout the State and has been active in creating programming for Boy Scouts, church groups, and other organizations. Among his numerous volunteer credits, Seldomridge sits on the Building and Grounds committee at Two Rivers Community School. River and Earth Adventures was selected for participation in the Scale-Up WNC Boone cohort for the summer of 2017.

Additional finalists: Chris Grasinger, Center 45 Climbing Gym; Tina Townsend, The Pet Place; Matt Vincent, VPC Builders


Education: Caleb Marsh, Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute

Watauga County native Caleb Marsh has spent 12 years as a faculty member at the Watauga Campus of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, including the last six years as a full-time instructor. Serving as CCC&TI’s Faculty Senate President, Marsh has taught at all levels, designed special class sections, and helped create curriculum guidelines for math and statistics coursework. He was also tabbed as Appalachian State’s College of Arts and Sciences Teacher-of-the-Year along with winning CCC&TI’s Donald Lackey Award for Excellence in Teaching. Holding degrees in mathematics from both CCC&TI and App State, Marsh is a NC Ready for Success Vertical Alignment Team member and has served as a judge and panelist at numerous academic events.

Additional finalists: Preston Clarke, Valle Crucis School; Traci Royster, Appalachian State University; Sumer Williams, Mabel School


Rising Star: Anthony Brumfield, Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton

Anthony Brumfield helped open the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton in September of 2016, where he serves as Assistant General Manager. He has worked for Poteat Hospitality Associates for three years, starting with the company at Courtyard by Marriott in Boone. Holding a BA in Psychology from UNC Charlotte, Brumfield earned his MA in Higher Education Administration from Appalachian State. He spent two years on campus in Boone working as Assistant Director of Multi-Cultural Student Engagement as well as an adjunct professor for Principles in Leadership. Brumfield is actively involved in mentoring with Cornerstone Summit Church and is the President-Elect for the Watauga Children’s Council Board of Directors.

Additional finalists: Virginia Falck, Town of Boone; Meghan Keith, The Pet Place; Danielle Wade, Jackson Sumner & Associates

For his efforts as an advisor and mentor to aspiring business professionals, Erich Schlenker was presented the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Respect Your Elder award. Schlenker serves as Managing Director of the Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship at Appalachian State. He brings nearly two decades of private-sector market development knowledge and brand experience to his role. Schlenker oversees business coaching programs that are available to students and members of the local community. He holds a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Clarkson University. Since moving to the High Country in 2008, Schlenker has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Community Care Clinic and Treasurer for the Watauga Education Foundation.

“We could not have started this program with a more deserving group of honorees and award winners,” said David Jackson, President/CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. “Boone has been guided by great leaders over the years and these honorees are poised to carry on the spirit of what makes the High Country such a special place to live and work. We are encouraged by the opportunities that have been created to blend our new generation of leaders with the experienced veterans of our community. We hope that 4 Under 40 continues to serve as a showcase of the emerging talent in our area and further connects them with the growth opportunities that exist here in our own backyard.”    

If you have questions about the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, contact David Jackson at 828-264-2225 or email

Related Posts

High Country Toast Set For This Weekend
Summer Events At Sugar Mountain Featured On Mind Your Business
First Round Of Presenters Announced For WLC Insight Night Series