Friday, September 07, 2007

Local hardworking teens!

These are excerpts from stories of local Iowa homeschooled teens. The title of the article was "The Myth of the Teen Brain" which stemmed from a book written by Dr. Robert Epstein. I haven't read the book, but the idea behind it is that 'teen turmoil' is basically nonexistent in other cultures & therefore something 'created' & promulgated by ours. Interesting.

Not chicken when it comes to business
Many of 21-year-old Jason Heki’s high school credit hours were spent, not at the kitchen table or schoolroom desk, but in the chicken house and vegetable patch.
Courtesy of the family at 14, Jason Heki started a business selling farm-fresh eggs, chickens and vegetables.
An animal lover with a penchant for chickens, Jason’s interest in the fowls escalated after he built a homemade chicken egg incubator with his dad at age 10.
When Jason’s family moved to a home with over seven acres, he ordered more chickens and expanded his hobby. But as fellow church members began asking to purchase his farm-fresh eggs, he considered turning his pastime into a business.
Jason enrolled in a class at Iowa’s Drake University, where he learned to write a business plan. His plan focused on selling eggs and garden produce. “My parents looked at it as a way to develop my interests in this niche,” Jason explains. “They gave me guidance when I needed it, and also let me learn as I did it.”
“I was excited about doing my own business, rather than society’s normal box where you go to college, and then you get a 9-to-5 job, and that’s it. I was excited about doing something different where I could essentially make a living at something I enjoyed,” he says.
With a flock of 25 (which quickly grew to 70), Jason, then 14, spent most of the summer months tending the chickens and gathering eggs. He also cultivated a half-acre of vegetables. When eggs and produce were ready for sale, Jason carted them to farmer’s markets in Des Moines and surrounding towns. He also marketed his produce at specialty stores. “It was a lot of work at that age for me,” he says, adding that early Saturday mornings preparing for the Des Moines market were a big time commitment. “My whole family was very involved. My siblings often helped me.”
But Jason’s business, Green Acres Family Farm, was only beginning to take off. The following year, he expanded and began raising “broiler” chickens to sell as meat. This was a much more profitable business than the eggs and vegetables, although Jason continued to do all three. Jason’s business flourished—at his busiest, he was directly supplying broiler chickens to 30 customers. And most of his business, Jason says, originated by word of mouth.
Because he was homeschooled, Jason had the flexibility to combine his business and his education. “I think that a lot of my business ideas grew naturally out of my homeschooling lifestyle,” he says. “Being an entrepreneur allows you to find a niche and be creative, expanding your ideas, developing your interests.” Through his business, Jason gained many academic and professional skills in areas such as marketing, management, research, horticulture, and animal science.
Jason is currently working on a book that will give “young people interested in starting a business the nuts and bolts of writing a business plan,” he says. Right now, The Egg Came First (“a title which has nothing to do with my theory of origins,” he adds with a chuckle) is still in progress, but Jason hopes to publish it in fall 2007.
However, Jason hasn’t confined his dreams to simply chicken farming and vegetable growing. In 2004, he followed an interest in real estate and now owns two houses, one of which he spent much time renovating. Funding from his farm business furnished him with capital for this new venture, and the hard work and perseverance he practiced in agriculture now aid him in managing his property.
Set to enter Patrick Henry College in fall 2007 as a sophomore, Jason has yet another goal: to major in public policy and run for state office. His interest in politics grew out of his work for the Republican National Committee during the 2004 elections and volunteering in several political campaigns. “Ideally I want to have a real estate business that allows me to be involved in politics without having to rely on it completely for income,” he says. In the meantime, what will happen to the chickens and vegetables? Jason says he plans to pass on the business to his twin younger brothers.

Shining the light
As a child and young teenager, Stacie Ruth Stoelting loved singing, acting, writing, and talking with others. But her real passion was spreading the gospel of Christ. At 17, Stacie Ruth carried her passions into the public by founding Bright Light Ministry, with the goal of “beaming the bright light of Jesus Christ to the world” through professional singing and speaking, drama, and writing.
The now-22-year-old ministers to victims of Alzheimer’s and their families, caregivers of all kinds, teens, and others. “All ages are hurting,” says Stacie Ruth. She speaks and sings by invitation everywhere from homeschool conventions to churches to radio and TV to singing for President Bush before thousands at a special event. A recent opportunity was recording in Nashville at bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs’ personal studio for a new Christian/patriotic worship CD.
“Each day is different,” says Stacie Ruth. “I’ve learned to treasure small moments and big moments.” She sings “mostly her grandparents’ favorites, which are hymns.”
Her sister, Carrie Beth Stoelting, also a singer with a love of acting and speaking, accompanies Stacie Ruth as often as possible. (Carrie Beth heads up her own organization, United for Movie Action, through which she petitions Hollywood to produce moral, family-friendly films.)
Growing up close to both sets of her grandparents in Midwestern Iowa, Stacie Ruth witnessed firsthand the deteriorating effects of Alzheimer’s on her own grandfather and the effects of dementia on her grandmother. “I was deeply hurt by seeing my grandparents struggle,” she says. “It was the desire of my heart to help others. I also recognized an urgent need to spread the gospel.” As a teenager visiting her grandparents, Stacie Ruth says, “I sensed that I needed to write down my grandparents’ story on paper.” At age 15, Stacie Ruth turned her writings into a book called Still Holding Hands, a novel-like testimony of her grandparents’ romance and commitment as well as a collection of tips for caregivers.
News of the book spread largely by word of mouth. Secular media were interested because of the topic and the young author. Stacie Ruth also wrote letters to friends and Christian leaders, describing her hope that the book would reach many people—Randy Travis and Pat Robertson are among her endorsers.
Stacie Ruth encourages other teens who want to do something out of the ordinary to be willing to follow God’s will and be teachable. “I think a lot of people get discouraged, [and they think], ‘do I really have anything new to say?’ Initiative can be dampened by fear and inadequacy. Instead, we need to focus on what God has given us and what He wants us to do,” she says. “I’ve had the same fears . . . but I know it’s all about my strength in Christ. It’s a big responsibility to honor God with our gifts and not hide our light.”
Homeschooled since 4th grade, Stacie Ruth says that home education allowed her to grow spiritually and creatively. “It allowed me to expand my horizons and look at things from different perspectives.”
Aside from traveling and ministering through Bright Light, Stacie Ruth writes monthly columns for the Christian Broadcasting Network website, is writing two Christian novels, and studies business management through the University of Minnesota’s distance education program. Her newest book, Whatever Happened to My Faith? (in the process of being published), is a nonfiction work answering tough questions and addressing different facets of culture that can steal a person’s faith and cultivate hypocrisy.
For more information about Bright Light Ministry, visit


amain said...

WooHoo...I LOVE these stories!!!
I should probably do my own blog post on this...but having Isabella in all-day school seems like such an odd way to spend a day. I feel so dis-jointed from her. I miss her; she misses me:)
Never thought I would feel this way...

Jena said...

that is so inspiring, thank you :) said...

Great blog! If people want information about my new book, The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen, they can visit

steph said...

wow, a comment from the author himself. cool. great stories and an interesting line of thinking. moves me to to train the boys in a "counter-culture" kind of way so as to be a mythbuster myself.

Anonymous said...

Wow, very cool! Thanks for sharing!