Maker Movement Part 2: Ethan Toth learned valuable leadership lessons in organizing the Mini Maker Faire
Wenatchee High School student Ethan Toth learned valuable lessons about leadership, building community and the power of collaboration in organizing and helping manage the Mini Maker Faire in October, 2015 at the Town Toyota Center. Toth is graduating this year and heading off to the University of Washington in the fall but his work has changed this valley and creatively built community.
It was a heady experience to be in charge of such a big event and he came away with a greater appreciation for how much leadership is facilitating the success of others.
Like many individuals of his generation, Toth is driven by a sense of making a difference in the community and the world. Toth told me his goal in life is “to help other people and improve the quality of living.” He sees blending social sciences with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in some unique way. This blends the artistic side of his personality with the more analytical aspects of his mind.
When he visited a Maker Faire in Seattle, he saw the potential to make a difference in the Wenatchee Valley. His teacher, Doug Merrill, told city officials Allison Williams and Steve King that Toth was interested in organizing a Maker Faire here.
And that got the ball rolling. He organized a group of individuals at the high school to figure out how to create an event, while city officials cheered on and supported the effort. Key members of that group included Silas Abbott, Kyle Norland, Storrie Skalisky and Kayli Brown. Theo Marshall also was instrumental, he said. The students received outstanding support from the city, the Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance and the North Central Regional Library.
Toth told me he learned much about effective leadership by trial and error. The team that coalesced to put on the Maker Faire had lots of ideas. “We had a lot of failures,” Toth recalled, “but we learned from that.” The team met with local businesses to seek sponsorships, encouraged local makers to participate in the event and worked with the city on the logistics. The last two weeks before the event, he said, were the most stressful weeks of his life. “We had no idea what to expect — we were just a bunch of nervous teenagers,” he recalled.
As a leader, he learned that getting things done requires listening to everyone and facilitating much more than about making final decisions. When the exhibition opened and the crowd started arriving, no one noticed the little glitches and problems that appeared, Toth said. The event, he said, “lived up to our expectations.”
Even thought he’s graduating, he’s excited about the next Maker Faire, which is scheduled for the fall. Toth hopes that the work that he and his team have accomplished will set the stage for promoting a Maker culture here. “I would like to see the entire community promote making” and in so doing create opportunities for kids to come back to the valley and either fill or create new jobs.