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As a young girl, Chelsey Schlosnagle started selling eggs to friends, neighbors and church members as a fun way to be involved with the poultry on her parents’ farm.
“Maybe thirty dozen or so,” she said.
Little did she know that, about a decade later, she would have a flock of about 3,300 chickens and deals with area Whole Foods Markets in Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati. That commitment and growth earned Schlosnagle, now a senior at Eastern Kentucky University, an American Star Award in Agribusiness for Chelsey’s Gourmet Pasture Eggs from the Future Farmers of America, which was presented during that group’s national convention earlier this month.
Each year the FFA recognizes four members with American Star Awards for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education. The award is the most prestigious honor awarded to a student by the FFA. Agribusiness is one of four categories – Farmer, Agricultural Placement and Agriscience – in which Stars are named.
“It hasn’t really completely sunk in yet,” she said. “They keep telling me it’s a big deal, but I’ve just been raising chickens and eggs with my brother [Jared, who is a partner in the business] forever.”
The award comes with a $4,000 check, which she said would be used for her tuition this year, and a trip to Costa Rica to visit coffee and banana plantations.
“They take all the finalists to Costa Rica, so that should be really neat to see how they work,” she said.
As far as bringing those ideas and processes back to the egg business, she’s not too sure.
“Probably, definitely some marketing ideas,” she said. “But it’s going to on a much larger scale, so I have no idea. Maybe some delivery concepts? Delivery can still be a problem for us right now. We just have a delivery van now.”
The process for the award, she said, was just like “selling eggs.”
“I had to compete at the local and regional level, and then I won the state award,” she said. “For the national award, they weed through all the applications from across the country and then give them back to you over the summer to work on again.
“Then, at the national convention, you do an interview with about fifteen people for about twenty minutes, and that was a lot of fun. I was in Louisville, so it was just like selling eggs. I could tell them exactly where they could go get some in town, the address and everything.”
Schlosnagle, whose parents, Doug and Susan, own Dutch Creek Farm in Pleasureville, is a Shelby County High School graduate and is close to earning her degree from Eastern Kentucky University and has her sights set on becoming an Ag teacher.
“Jared wants to continue to farm, so we’ll see how big this gets,” she said. “I’m leaning toward staying in the partnership, because I just don’t know what our limit is. If we want to continue to grow, there’s Nashville and Knoxville, and that opens up a whole lot of other places with the interstates that run through there.
“I really want to teach, so maybe when I get out, I can find a teaching job that’s close and can balance it with the eggs.”
She has had plenty of experience balancing the business with high school and college, as has her brother.
“We’ll just have to see,” she said. “I think if you’re stubborn enough, you can make it work.”