Off-Farm Income


About 90% of the time when I interview an FFA student on this show they are junior or senior in high school or are already in high school.  Occasionally I get to speak with a student who is just starting their high school career and their journey in the FFA.  That is the case in today's interview with William Paxton.

William is a freshman at Stuart Public School in Stuart, Nebraska.  Even though he is just beginning high school he has already been learning about beekeeping and developing his own bee business, Paxton 5 Beehive, for just over four years.  Starting during his years in 4H, William started raising bees.  He has had multiple hives die over the winter, and he has replaced them multiple times.  He has persisted through all of this, learning more and more about raising bees.  This past summer he had his first successful honey harvest.

As an incoming freshman William had already gone through the difficult part of learning his trade.  He had failed many times, corrected his mistakes, and pushed forward.  Then, when it was time to begin his supervised agricultural experience he was at the stage of development that he was able to sell a product.  This is a head start.

What is amazing about this head start that William had is that when he finally did have a successful honey harvest he already had customers on a waiting list that wanted to purchase his honey.  And, this was the first time he had ever had honey to sell!  So, how did he do this?  William attributes this to the agricultural education that he received going through the 4H.  Specifically, the requirements for public speaking that came with being a 4H member.

Through the 4H William participated in multiple public speaking events, and he always chose to speak about bees and his goals in raising them.  Inadvertently, this became a marketing campaign for his honey and people lined up to purchase from him.  All he had left to do was actually produce the product.

The head start that William received through the 4H is just the start.  Obviously, this was a great head start for him upon entering the FFA.  An incoming freshman starting their first SAE in the FFA is not expected to have an up and running business already.  So, the 4H provided William a head start on the FFA.

Now, William has four years to develop his business through his SAE while he continues with public speaking through the FFA.  This is another head start for him, a head-start on life.  How many high school students do you know that will have been running a completely vertically integrated business with a waiting list of customers for 8 years at the time of high school graduation?  I would venture a guess that you probably don't know any unless they are involved in agricultural education.