Maggie: Colorado teenager Shelby Grebenc has definitely seen her share of difficult times.
Shelby Grebenc: It was sad. It was really sad.
Maggie: A few years ago, Shelby’s mother Nancy was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
Shelby: She couldn’t walk. She couldn’t get up. She couldn’t feed herself.
Jonmichael Grebenc: And she ended up in a nursing home, and, man, it was…it was tough.
Maggie: Shelby’s dad works in a water treatment plant outside Denver, Colorado. Her mom was a pharmacist. They made pretty good money but the nursing home bills alone were bankrupting the family. Her parents never told Shelby they were struggling. But she figured it out.
Shelby: Because I could see how sad he was and I decided to help him.
Jonmichael: And I said, ‘well, ok. See what you can do.’ I just never thought she’d take it to this level.
Maggie: What Shelby did was basically start a farm. At the age of 9, she got a loan from her grandmother and bought chickens – a lot of chickens.
Shelby: I have 135, about.
Maggie: Shelby doesn’t come from a farming family but she didn’t let those 50-pound feedbags stop her. She was determined. She did some math and figured there was money in eggs, if you did it right – which she did.
Shelby: I have to make sure chickens get out. They get to eat bugs. They get to be chickens.
Maggie: She took good care of her chickens and became the youngest farmer in America to win the Animal Welfare Seal of Approval.
But starting her own business and making a profit wasn’t easy. First, Shelby had to figure out her total expenses – what it costs to operate her business, like feeding and caring for the chickens. Then she had to add a little extra money for unexpected losses. And, of course, she was surprised to learn she would have to also pay taxes on her income. Then Shelby had to price her eggs so that her total revenue would cover those expenses, plus a little more in order to make a profit. When Shelby started a home egg delivery service, the money came rolling in.
Shelby: Do these look good?
Customer: Oh, Gosh! Those are great!
Maggie: Shelby’s company now makes about $15,000 a year, money her family badly needed.
Jonmichael: I think we’d have been homeless. We just… We would have lost it. She kept the wolf away from the door.
Maggie: Today, Shelby’s mom is a little better and so are the family finances. So now, Shelby’s putting all her profits into a college fund. But if things get tight again, she says family remains her first priority.