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Young entrepreneur invests in future

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Money-making venture: Emily Jones learned about selling rabbits through a Purdue Extension entrepreneurship program. She's been selling her furry friends for two years now. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)
Money-making venture: Emily Jones learned about selling rabbits through a Purdue Extension entrepreneurship program. She's been selling her furry friends for two years now. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

GREENFIELD — Emily Jones’ furry critters aren’t the only things multiplying like rabbits.

Emily, 13, launched her own business two years ago, raising and selling rabbits for show and meat. With profits on the rise, the Greenfield-Central eighth-grader has been able to reinvest in supplies and save $300 toward her college education.

“I put most of it back into cages,” she said. “The rest I save back for college, or more feed.”

The Green Township resident admits there probably aren’t many other 13-year-olds that are already planning ahead for college, let alone learning how to manage money.

She has about 50 rabbits at home now, including Mini Rex, Holland Lop and New Zealand breeds. She has sold around 50 over the last two years.

And while most think of bunnies as cute pets, Emily has learned to distance herself from most – including the ones that are sold for meat.

“It is a little hard, but you get used to it,” she said of taking about half of her animals to a meat processing facility in Knightstown. “With living on a farm, you’re used to things passing away. It’s just part of life; you just do what you’ve got to do.”

Emily is the daughter of Jay and Stephanie Jones, who were both in 4-H when they were children. Jay was a 10-year member and while he showed pigs, he had hundreds of rabbits on his farm growing up to be sold for meat.

“It’s a good opportunity for her to get out there, meet the public,” Jay said. “She’s earned some money on the side, learned some responsibilities.”

Emily launched her business, called Buddies Buddies, after she attended the Entrepreneurship Investment Camp sponsored by Hancock County Purdue Extension.

The summer program for middle school students encouraged teens to think of their own business. The first year, students were given a $50 loan to buy initial supplies like business cards and marketing materials.

Emily used that to jump-start Buddies Buddies. Her parents also chipped in money for cages, but over time she was able to pay back all of the loans.

Sarah Burke, extension educator, said of the 15 students in the class two summers ago, only a few others still have a small business going. Two of them, she said, cut and bail hay for customers, and one student sells handcrafted greeting cards.

Students in the camp also toured Greenfield businesses, created products to sell at the fairgrounds’ farmers market, and even inspected pizzas from various businesses to see which product was better.

“I’m happy I did it, because it teaches you how to start a business and life skills,” Emily said, adding that most girls her age don’t know how to manage money.

While she must say goodbye to most of the animals, Emily does have a few favorites she keeps for herself and shows at the fair. She hugs Butterscotch, a Holland Lop, and explains how she was born on her farm one year ago and showed well this week.

Emily said she’s already thinking ahead to which rabbits she will breed together for successful show rabbits in the future. Many of those are sold to 4-H’ers across the county and to surrounding communities.

Her mom, Stephanie, said Emily has taken on the business aspect well, keeping track of her money and saving up for more cages. She also handles most of the business telephone calls.

Emily, who is also involved in track, said she spends two or three hours every day taking care of the animals on the farm. She and her older sister, Jessica, also help care for llamas, goats, pigs, turkeys, ducks and chickens.

Emily wants to go to Purdue University. While college is still five years away, she’s already kicking around ideas of what to study, including agricultural communications. She’s also interested in becoming a 4-H educator.

Jay said he’s proud of what Emily has been able to accomplish. If she is able to save some money for the future, he said, that’s all the better.

“It helps the parents,” Jay said. “If she wants to earn most of the way, that’s great.”

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