By Jen Lynds Bangor Daily News, Maine.
As a life science teacher at Easton Junior-Senior High School, Ellen Trask often tells her students that any dream is possible as long as they set goals and work hard to accomplish them.
It was a lesson she recently exemplified with a dream of her own.
Trask has invented something she calls The Home Salad Bar, a simple food storage unit designed to become part of anyone's refrigerator.
"I have always loved eating healthy and making sure that my children are eating healthy," Trask said on Thursday. "And I love eating salads. But I hate chopping up all of the vegetables that go in salads, and then storing all of the vegetables in the refrigerator again. Most of the time, you put them way in the bottom of the refrigerator and they spoil because you forget all about them."
Trask said that the idea came to her when she was eating at a restaurant and saw a salad bar.
"I thought to myself, 'Why can't I have a salad bar in my home refrigerator?'" Trask said.
Being a school teacher, she spoke to her students about the idea and they encouraged her to pursue the idea.
She said her research led her to work with Invention Home, an invention and product marketing company, to develop a prototype of the product.
She already has secured a provisional patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Under the patent, there could be several designs of The Home Salad Bar. One is a unit that is independent from the refrigerator. Another version allows The Home Salad Bar to be part of the refrigerator design and would be present in the refrigerator when you buy it.
Trask said she filed a design patent last fall and recently pitched the idea to a casting director of "Shark Tank," an ABC reality show where aspiring entrepreneurs make business presentations to a panel of investors.
"The casting directors were in Portland, and I got there and the line was wrapped around the building twice," she said.
"People had flown in from California, Texas, all across the U.S. to get their chance to participate," she said on Thursday.
"There were over 800 people there that day, and you had one minute to pitch your product to a casting director."
She missed out on a chance to be on the show, but a short time later was contacted by "As Seen on TV," a company which sells select products on television, the Internet and in various stores.
Trask also has presented her product to companies such Whirlpool and Rubbermaid. She is waiting to hear back on who will be interested in manufacturing The Home Salad Bar.
It has been a long process for Trask.
"When this started, the class of kids that first started encouraging me to do this was in the eighth grade," she said. "Now, they are in their sophomore year. It has been a long two years."
For more information on The Home Salad Bar, check out the product's Facebook page.