Getting Personal: Conner's Cluckers instills hope

Youth can and do make a difference in their communities, and Sparta (Randolph County) Lincoln eighth grader Conner Stewart is among them. Conner sells or donates farm-fresh eggs to a variety of local people and the Sparta Food Pantry through his enterprise, Conner's Cluckers. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of 18 months. His mother Charlene said that was a frightening moment because Conner was not verbal.

In the third grade, Conner followed his sister Michaela into 4-H. Charlene leads his 4-H chapter, the Country Crusaders, and can't say enough about what 4-H gives to children. "4-H projects instill possible future business opportunities," said Charlene. "All credit goes to 4-H for starting this long-term project for Conner five years ago." Conner is happy to help his community with Conner's Cluckers, but he also told his mom that he wanted to help others have hope—that a diagnosis of autism does not mean a person can't be a contributing member of society. Because of his family's support and his own strength, that is precisely what Conner is. (Reprinted with permission, Sparta Ledger)