4-Hers gaining attention in ‘worm poop’ venture

LANSING – The three members of WORMCO 4-H Club, Pierce Mayville, Shania Miller, and Francis Semashko, have been maintaining worm farms for the past three years and have developed both a promising product and service centered around their worm project.

The intrepid youth began their business venture collecting and selling vermicomposting, “worm poop” or “worm castings” as a natural soil enhancement to local gardeners. When they found how long it took to collect enough to sell, they set their sites on expanding their production capabilities by constructing handmade farms which each members cares for in their home.

By attending In the Loop events sponsored by the Delta Youth Entrepreneurship Alliance, they had the opportunity to learn business strategies from local businesses owners. One of the most important things they learned was the importance of diversifying a product line to increase profit. This led to an adjustment in their business strategy. The youth found there was a bigger profit to be made elsewhere – by providing workshops on worm farming.

Over the past two years, the group has been teaching other people about worm farming and selling “starter kits” which they build themselves. They instruct on both the business and the biology of worm farming and have given their workshop attendees pointers from their own experiences on important factors that will make or break a good worm farm like feeding, moisture content, acidity, prevention of fruit fly invasion, and processing the castings.

Workshop participants get a chance to see worm farms in various stages and actually get their hands dirty. They also build their own farm and leave with a handful of worms to begin their worm farming adventure.

WORMCO hopes to continue to expand its product line by selling worms as bait in the future.

WORMCO was selected as the Michigan 4-H State Award Winner in group entrepreneurship for 2013. Winners of Michigan 4-H State Awards are selected from participants across the state in their selected project area through a review of an application, portfolio, and interview process conducted by the Michigan 4-H Awards Selection Committee. Candidates are also judged on their achievements in community service, leadership, project skills, and 4-H participation.

State Awards delegates travel to MSU Campus as part of Michigan 4-H Exploration Days where they undergo an interview process and attend the State Awards Celebration.