SHERIDAN — Braden and Jhett West are no longer just brothers working together to push their showmanship abilities. They are now young businessman in the realm they know best: quality livestock.
The West brothers submitted applications for an entrepreneurial scholarship awarded by the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce after their mom saw a flier circulating on Facebook. Both brothers were awarded $500 scholarships from the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce for showcasing the best entrepreneurial project earlier this year. The money is intended for start-up costs of their new business.
The Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce has been an integral part of Sheridan County since 1913. This year will be their 106th anniversary in Sheridan being an economic driver for local businesses, organizations and individuals like the West boys in Sheridan County.
Braden is a 16-year-old who won the upper-division scholarship when he realized he could make his love for showing pigs into a business.
“They’re so easy, everybody likes pigs, it’s just an easy project to do so I just thought, ‘This could be an opportunity to start a pig business,’” Braden West said.
He’s raising three pigs and three gilts and his goal is to expand into a successful pig breeding company called Opportunity Genetics, LLC. Some members he competes with in 4-H travel to Iowa and even Kansas for 4-H pigs. With high demand of quality hogs around the county, Braden West felt like he could fill the demand.
“My main priority is offering kids the chance to have a hog without traveling far distances to get them,” Braden West said. “But this community has given me so much, I want to return the favor anyway I can.”
He plans to sell pigs to Sheridan County School District’s 1 and 2 and donate considerable proceeds from the sale of one of his pigs back to both 4-H scholarships and Carbondale’s Wild West Rodeo scholarship. He will have to go through a certified process to be able to work with both school districts, which doesn’t make the oldest West boy leery.
“This project has been incredible watching things really click for Braden,” Rindy West, the boys mother, said. “It was always a plan of his I think to start breeding hogs to show, but I don’t think he realized this is a business opportunity until the scholarship came up and planted that seed that, ‘Hey! This isn’t just 4-H, this is the future.’”
As for Jhett West, Braden’s 13-year-old brother, he was born to be a businessman.
After using Code Blue’s livestock Hair and Hide Stimulator, a product that increases hair growth and volume out of Nebraska, he was hooked.
“The owner of Code Blue gave my family a quart of his product to just try and I instantly fell in love with it,” Jhett West said. “The next time I saw him I asked him what it would take to be a distributor, so we made it happen.”
“He walked up to the owner and said, ‘I want to be a distributor, I believe in this product and this is how I’m going to invest in your product,’ and they shook hands that afternoon,” Rindy West said.
Between the scholarship fund and college savings, Jhett West was able to purchase his first pallet of product, making him the youngest Code Blue distributor in the nation.
“I want to showcase a product I truly believe in and hopefully make enough money so I don’t have to pay for my schooling,” Jhett West said.
Between the two boys, they will be showing six steers, six pigs, a cow-calf pair and a heifer.