Bone Appétit! Seabrook Student Serving the Four-legged Community
Posted on 10/04/2018
Austin NelsonSeabrook Intermediate 8th grader Austin Nelson already has a few major accomplishments to add to his resume, namely food engineer and owner and CEO of his own small business.

It started with a non-traditional fundraising plan last summer to earn enough money to upgrade his band instrument at school.

“My mom has a degree in finance and she was kind of the one who gave me the idea to start a business,” Nelson said. “She told me she would help me raise the money to upgrade my instrument and said I should do something unique and that I was passionate about.”

Nelson then came up with the idea of making homemade dog treats to start selling to family, friends and the local community.

“I am really good with animals and have a deep love for them,” said Nelson, who added that his boxer, Maya, and Boston terrier, Springer, helped inspire him.

Originating from his nickname, Nelson created Bear’s Barks and Bites and began working on his healthy treats at home with the help of his mom and grandmother. He makes a point to deliver his local orders directly to the doors of his buyers.

“It’s cool because I get to go to all of my clients’ houses and meet their dogs and love on them,” Nelson said. “That is kind of my payment, if you will.”

As word spread, his family members out-of-state began placing orders. However, Nelson ran into a problem after shipping the treats.

“My family member called me and said that the treats were molded by the time it got to them,” said Nelson, adding that the humidity and contents of the original ingredients posed a problem.

Nelson was determined to correct the issue, so he decided to conduct a science fair project at school to test the effects of dog-safe food preservatives on the shelf life of his product.

“I wanted to solve my own problem because that’s what science fair is all about,” Nelson said. “I went online to research preservatives in varying PH levels and began adding them to my recipe. I figured out that Potassium Sorbate is the best PH preservative to help protect my treats during shipping.”

His project, titled “Preserving Peanut Butter Puppies,” earned Nelson awards at the campus, district and regional Science and Engineering Fair levels and helped advance him to the State Competition. He was also named a 2018 Top 300 competitor in the 8th annual Broadcom MASTERS, the nation's premier Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) competition for middle school students.

As for the future of the company, Nelson is dedicated to continuing his research and testing new flavors and ideas. He hopes to grow his business while also keeping his school work a priority.

“I would like to expand the selling of the treats, but not on the scale to where it would take me away from school,” Nelson said. “I really want to focus on my work so I can be a vet when I grow up and go to Texas A&M.”

Nelson’s two treat flavors available right now are Peanut Butter Puppies and Pumpkin Apple. Take a tour of his fully-developed website for monthly specials and a slideshow of his happy clients:
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