After watching his mom struggle with malnutrition stemming from significant and sustained food allergies, 11-year-old Cody O'Neil decided there had to be a way he could help. Despite her allergy to chicken eggs, Cody’s mom Karen discovered she could eat duck eggs. “I started to do some research and found that duck eggs are larger and more nutritious than chicken eggs. You get more nutrition and a bigger meal from duck eggs,” Cody says proudly. Switching to duck eggs helped Cody's mom get the protein she needed, but it also provided a spark that put Cody on a path to help solve world hunger.
Cody had an idea. “I thought maybe I could start helping others with duck eggs the way it helped my mom.” He began to look into World Concern, a Christian-based organization that works to build sustainable solutions for malnutrition, poor health care and lack of education in developing countries. Initially, Cody was thinking he could just raise ducks for World Concern but he soon realized that wasn’t sustainable in the regions they served.
Shifting gears, Cody decided it would be more effective to raise ducks, sell the eggs locally and donate the money to World Concern. To get things rolling, he needed to first convince his parents that he was serious. Cody began penciling out the numbers on how many ducks it would take to essentially end world hunger (see the video below for that amazing math problem).
To get a better understanding of the care and maintenance of these feathered fowl, Cody turned to 4-H. Having never been a member of any 4-H group, Cody and his family are now fully involved in their 4-H community. “I've learned a lot from 4-H. It’s been a blast all the way through. I love going to fair and I love competing. It’s a lot of fun” he says.
With the research done, Cody and his family began building pens and fences for the ducks, hatching them and building a client base for their eggs. “My church and 4-H are my top supporters,” he says of his clientele. Cody’s distribution network has grown to the point that friends rely on him to sometimes sell their duck eggs. “Our friends have a farm and people don’t always buy their duck eggs. They sell a lot of chicken eggs, but sometimes their duck eggs go to waste. So I take their eggs and sell them to my customers,” he says.
Though Cody started with duck eggs, his heart for philanthropy goes back further and is connected to a completely different side of him. “Originally I wanted to use 3D design to make shelters for people in poor countries,” he says of his beginnings. Raising ducks turned out to be easier, but he still wants to try helping in other ways. “Basically, anything I can do with my creative brain to help solve problems, that’s what I want to do. I still want to do 3D design though.”
Cody was selected as a 2016 Pamplin Media Group “Amazing Kid” for his work in eliminating world hunger. His duck egg project has given him several opportunities to speak publicly about ending hunger and he’s even gotten his neighbors into raising their own animals. His passion for helping is making a difference around the world and around the block.
Cody’s entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit is a welcome sign that our future is in good hands. Please join us in congratulating Cody on his work, inventiveness and passion for helping others.
How You Can Help
You can help too. If you’d like to contribute directly to Cody’s project, you can do so here. Feeling inspired? Great! Check around for a local 4-H chapter and see if they’d like to do a similar project. Or, start a chapter of your own.
About the "Amazing Kids" program
In 2014 Pamplin Media Group created an event that would honor young people who are doing admirable acts in each of their respective communities. These young people were committed to making a difference in the world, proving that there is hope for future generations.
As a result, the Pamplin Media Group has committed each year to host an event to honor young people who are committed to improving their local communities - and the world at large. We call these young people our Amazing Kids.
Suggestions for nominees for Amazing Kids come from parents, educators and a variety of other sources throughout the 25 communities the Pamplin Media Group serves.
The Amazing Kids range in age from elementary school to high school and they come from all types of family backgrounds. What sets them apart, more than anything else, is their consideration for others.
Our Amazing Kids work to ease the suffering in their communities - even though they may be suffering themselves.
Coastal is a proud corporate sponsor of the Amazing Kids event at OMSI in Portland, Oregon. We believe in the power of our youth to bring a positive change to the world and work to support the efforts of those who take time to spotlight these young men and women.