The 4-H embryology project focuses on the science of embryology, which is a branch of biology that deals with the development of an embryo from the fertilization of the ovum to the fetus stage. This 4-H project is often conducted in elementary schools, but can also be done as part of a 4-H club project. 4-H volunteers, or project leaders, help youth set up incubators filled with fertilized eggs and teach them how to maintain adequate conditions for the incubators. While waiting for the eggs to hatch, youth learn the science of how embryos develop. Finally the day they’ve all been waiting for…HATCH DAY! Students and teachers experience a day of melodious chirping, fluffy chicks pecking about, and if they’re lucky they may even see a few hatching in action. While this day is bittersweet, who says the 4-H Embryology Project experience has to end here?
That is the exact question that Walton County 4-Her Justin Bolen asked himself when he got involved in the 4-H embryology project. At age 9, Justin stepped up and expanded his 4-H poultry project into a business. He discovered a demand for free range chicken eggs in his local community and build his business around filling that need. Justin took out a loan with his family to purchase the necessary equipment to start his own business. He learned skills such as feed management, environment maintenance, record keeping, health care for poultry, and effects on hatch rate.
Justin’s passion wasn’t only 4-H and poultry, but also to learn how to maintain a debt free business. He repaid his loan to his
family by age 11 and was producing 100 dozen eggs per month. At age 13, Justin used his “egg money” to purchase his first horse, Brave, for $1500. Just two years later (as his riding skills advanced) Justin sold Brave and used that money along with more “egg money” to purchase a Lambert Morgan Horse, named Trey, for $4,200. In January 2014, Justin was the first 16 year old to be approved to participate in Chris Cox’s Colt Starting Clinic, for which he again paid tuition of $1,400 with his “egg money.”
Today, at age 17, Justin currently has 22 customers with a whopping 47 dozen eggs per delivery every other week. In order to give back to 4-H, Justin has agreed to provide the Walton County 4-H Embryology Project with fertilized eggs to support the program throughout the county so that other youth can not only learn about the science of embryology, but the business opportunities as well! Justin’s success story is proof that with “EGG-ceptional” dedication and determination, other youth can have the same experience he did in 4-H and become an entrepreneur themselves!
As a 4-H volunteer, you can share your personal interests and expertise in a variety of subjects including gardening, shooting sports, robotics, animal science, sewing/crafting, public speaking, foods and nutrition, and much more. In 4-H, you can leverage your experience and skills to help a young person find their own passions and interests and possibly even ignite a future career! 4-H is an opportunity we wish every young person could have because research shows it is a step forward. More than 60 million of our nation’s most successful statesmen, business leaders, and scientists credit 4-H with setting them on a positive, productive path. When you share your experiences with 4-Hers, you make a difference by helping youth become caring and competent citizens with a desire to contribute to their communities. To find out how to become a 4-H volunteer, contact your local extension office or visit http://florida4h.org/volunteers.
This article was written by Jena Brooks, Walton County 4-H Agent firstname.lastname@example.org.