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MARYVILLE (WATE) - Jessica Ramsey, 18, of Maryville is a small business owner and recent high school graduate with a jump start on college.
Ramsey made all these accomplishments without ever stepping into a traditional classroom. What started as a hobby has grown into a small business. Ramsey raises sheep for market on her grandparent's Greenback farm.
"Having something to wake up and to do, and doing it outside, I just find pleasure in that," she said.
Ramsey took courses in sheep husbandry and became a certified master meat sheep producer.
"I've always had an appreciation for the entrepreneur," she explained, "The person who goes out and finds a market for something is able to start their own business and face all the challenges which that brings."
Her business, Honeysuckle Rose Farm, was born. But Ramsey didn't want to raise her lambs to be sold for food, so she came up with another idea. "My sheep have been used for herd improvement," she said.
Ramsey sells her sheep on Craigslist to farmers looking to improve their own sheep stock.
"The one thing I've really learned from this business is how to market a product to a person in a light that they will appreciate," she added. "Taking the photograph with the animal and getting them to pose like that is not exactly easy and setting the prices the farmer can pay. I enjoy writing down expenditures. I think the whole book side of it is fun."
Ramsey isn't betting it all on the farm. "Going to college is important to me because it will act as a safety net."
She's been home schooled her whole life and already has 26 hours of college credit thanks to dual enrollment courses.
"I wasn't educated with textbooks until I reached high school. I was taught history through the reading of biographies and autobiographies, which was very interesting. I was taught chemistry, physics, all the normal stuff."
Ramsey just had her first real classroom experience, taking chemistry at Pellissippi State Community College.
Her former instructor, Rachel Glazener, describes Jessica as smart and driven. "She was always asking me questions and making sure that she knew every topic that we were talking about like the back of her hand," Glazener said.
The young business owner just won a $1,000 young entrepreneur scholarship from Bryan College.
"That blows my mind," said Glazener. "I mean being home schooled her whole life and just now getting out in the public with school and already having a bunch of college credit, I don't know how she gets all the time to have a business and everything else on the side."
Ramsey credits her grandparents, parents and younger sisters for helping make her business a success.
Her grandmother, Margaret Ramsey, said, "Jessica is very motivated. She's successful at whatever she turns her hand to. I expect her to be a senator, a president, whatever she wants."
Jessica Ramsey says she hopes to one day grow her business to 100 sheep, but that's not her only goal.
"As much as I love agriculture, it's not a big money maker. My parents and grandparents have earned degrees and kind of farmed as a hobby. I hope to become a lawyer and have enough money to have my own sheep."
Ramsey will start classes at Bryan College this fall.