This kid has goals to match his million-dollar smile; He's not too far from reaching them. I am so excited to feature Te'Lario, a local third grader and founder of Tiger Mushroom Farms, LLC.
Yes, third grader.
Let's all take a moment and try to remember what our goals were as third graders. When I was in elementary school we had to write an autobiography containing chapters filled with notable literature, ranging from our favorite colors to who our best friends were and what we wanted to be when we grew up. After writing about wanting to be a chimpanzee owner, I probably got on the computer to play Sims or Roller Coaster Tycoon.
Te'Lario, on the other hand, at just nine years old, balances school, running a business, competing in fencing competitions and speaking at local and national events. Tiger Mushroom Farms, a family-run business, grows and offers shiitake and oyster mushrooms. They sell their mushrooms at a handful of markets and grocery stores and according to Te'Lario, eventually around the world.
The Reference Club: Te'Lario, how did Tiger Mushroom Farms get started? Where did this idea come from?
Te'Lario: My 1st meeting at Cub Scouts I grew catgrass and basil. It was so interesting I wanted to keep growing stuff. Then my parents wondered what could we grow in the winter time and I said mushrooms, because mushrooms can grow in the dark.
TRC: So cool! I'm even impressed you knew mushrooms grow in the dark. I need a gardening 101 lesson from you. What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working or doing homework?
Te'Lario: I am a fencer and I am competing in the Arnold Classic next weekend.
TRC: Can we add fencing 101 to the lessons from you, too? What do your friends think about Tiger Mushroom Farms?
Te'Lario: My friends think that my business is cool.
TRC: Rightfully so, my pal. What’s the most challenging part about running a business while still being a kid in school?
Te'Lario: The most challenging part is completing all my homework and getting my business work done.
TRC: Do you get nervous to speak in public?
Te'Lario: No, I do not get nervous when I speak in public. I am actually going to California next month to speak on a panel at the biggest natural food expo, Natural Products Expo West.
TRC: Good luck, that's amazing. OK, here's a tough one: If there was such a thing as a fairy godmother, what would you wish for?
Te'Lario: If I had a fairy godmother, I would wish to expand my business and get super powers.
TRC: Something tells me you won't be needing a wish to expand Tiger Mushroom Farms. What is your ultimate goal for Tiger Mushroom Farms?
Te'Lario: My dream for Tiger Mushroom Farms is to expand my business into a big factory, so I can sell my mushrooms all around the world.
TRC: What is your favorite part about working with your family?
Te'Lario: My favorite part about working with my family is growing and harvesting my mushrooms. We also grow and donate vegetables to a local food pantry.
TRC: Social enterprising, too!? What is your happiest memory so far with Tiger Mushroom Farms?
Te'Lario: My happiest memory with Tiger Mushroom Farms was when I was on the Steve Harvey Show when I was 7.
TRC: Do you have a role model or hero? Who is it?
Te'Lario: My heros are my parents, because they supported me in my business.
TRC: Te'Lario's mom, LaVanya, was so helpful with coordinating this interview. Te'Lario, what advice do you have for other kids with a dream or passion?
Te'Lario: My advice to help children is to keep dreaming and never give up!
To help support Te'Lario and Tiger Mushroom Farms, visit the site, here.