4-H’er creates business from his passion for pumpkins
Story and photo by Holly Davis
Conrad Kabus, Seaman High School Junior, is not your typical teenager. He is involved in many activities and recently was recognized for his dedication and hard work for his pumpkin farm, a hobby, business, and 4-H project.
He was ranked highest in the Meadowlark Extension District in his field of plant science and continued to rise to the top in Manhattan as a state winner.
Kabus is a member of the Clover Power 4-H club and when he started, he planted a small pumpkin garden and it sparked his ambition to go bigger. His pumpkin farm now spans two acres and has been proven a successful business.
“I decided to grow pumpkins because they’re easy to grow if you know what you’re doing. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I learn from each one,” Kabus said.
Kabus explains that the big orange fruit can be used for multiple purposes such as decoration, carving, food purposes, target practice, and even football. In all of the years he has been growing pumpkins, Kabus had never eaten pumpkin seeds until this year and he fell in love.
The Kabus pumpkin farm has collaborated with local businesses including Valley Lawn and Garden, Iwig Dairy, and the Meriden Threshing Bee to help increase sales. Many pumpkins are also sold at local farmers markets.
Over 300 customers buy pumpkins from the farm every year and each purchase comes with a business card explaining the importance of buying food locally because it is “healthier and cheaper.”
With all of his success in the pumpkin business, Kabus decided to turn it in as a 4-H project. He submitted a Kansas Art Portfolio to the Kansas 4-H program and was then selected for an interview process where he was judged on project experience, knowledge, communication skills, and appearance. He excelled in the interview and was chosen as top plant science competitor in Jefferson County and in the state.
Kabus became a 4-H member seven years ago when he was inspired by his dad, John Kabus, who is the weed director in Shawnee County. His dad convinced him to “try it out” and Conrad became interested in forestry and did many projects on the subject. This provoked his love for 4-H and plant science.
Conrad’s mother, Kaye Kabus, and sister, Caroline Kabus, are also involved in 4-H activities; Kaye manages record books and is a 4-H alumni while Caroline went to state in visual arts. His is also followed by his younger brother, Carter Kabus.
Aside from 4-H and his pumpkin farm, Conrad can be seen carrying around a large video camera. He works as a reporter for Ag AM in Kansas where he focuses on agriculture tourism, food from farm to consumption, and youth development.
“I met some girls from New York City who didn’t know where milk came from. They assumed it was artificially created and had no idea it came from a cow.” His goal is to spread the awareness of the importance of agriculture.
He also works on his family farm, attends county fairs, and is involved in FFA, forensics, theater, the International Thespian society, veterinary science, broadcast journalism, and the school newspaper.
“I can’t really say I have that many hobbies because I’m insanely busy all the time,” Kabus said.
In his free time, he enjoys fishing, camping, canoeing, watching movies, making models, acting for fun, and reading comic books.
“The first thing I ever did was 4-H and look at me now. My success story is just one in a million. For those who say they don’t do it because they’re busy, the thing I tell them is that they have time! 4-H is a great opportunity for youth, but it also focuses on ages seven to those in college. 4-H empowers; it’s a common line, but once you understand the difference between those who are involved and those who are not, you will know what I mean,” Kabus said.
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