Off-Farm Income


They say that fortune favors the bold.  I believe that this is true, and this is one of the reasons that I love to profile the projects of FFA students.  As a group, I have not encountered one that is bolder.  These students are not just given permission to be creative through entrepreneurship, but they are encouraged to do so.  The ideas that come out of a group of students like this are really amazing.

Our guest today, Katherine Woodward, is a perfect example of this.  Katherine is in her junior year of high school.  When it came time to choose a supervised agricultural experience she looked around her community to see what other people were not doing. She identified bee and honey production as something that much less common than other agricultural practices in her area.  The fact that nobody else was doing this convinced her that this was the right choice.

There was a problem.  Katherine was extremely afraid of bees.  However, she was also bold.  So, which would win, fear or boldness?  Well, her SAE is titled "Black Lick Creek Apiary" so you tell me!

Katherine overcame this fear and dove into the bee business with four nukes to start her business.  Then she went about determining how she was going to build this business and identifying what her financial needs were going to be.  Once that was finished she figured out that she could possibly fund this business through grants, ultimately obtaining two for the paltry sum of $5,000 - which is the largest grant amount I have ever profiled on this show.

Now Katherine has the money to build a "honey house" and to develop and market her business.  She could have harvested honey after her first season but chose not to, to give her bees a better chance of winter survival.  It turned out to be a very wise decision considering the polar vortex that descended on much of the country this winter.  And, because she received the grants she was not pressured into harvesting honey too soon in the development of her hives.

Now Katherine is well on her way to a great honey harvest.  Her hives all survived the winter, and she is looking forward to the summer season.  She is also looking forward to getting creative with her direct marketing of honey.  Katherine has a number of ideas for marketing her products that she has not seen anybody else try.  Of course, doing things other people have not tried is pretty consistent with the way that Katherine does business.

Chief among these ideas is putting together a festival this summer at the same location where her honey house will eventually be located.  She wants to have her fellow FFA members participate and sell their products, bring their animals and educate the public about agriculture.  At the same time, she will be providing a public good she will also be marketing her honey.  Katherine also wants to locate her hives strategically around Kentucky.  She has family in four different zip codes, and she is considering marketing "honey by the zip code" because honey produced close to where you live offers you health benefits that honey produced elsewhere does not.

Katherine is off to a great start and has great ideas, and it is all because she looks at the world differently.  She has no desire to be just like everyone else.  She wants to be different, in a very, very good way.

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