Tyler Boles: Outstanding in his fields

"When I was 11, I kind of ran into that brick wall that everyone seems to run into– you know, how to make money at that age..."

Michael "Tyler" Boles, now 18, is explaining how he got started in his first successful business venture: "I didn't like the lemonade stand idea or mowing lawns. What I was good at was gardening, so I started selling prepackaged culinary herbs at the Nellysford Farmer's Market."

Over the next seven years, the young entrepreneur enlarged his Herb Boy Gourmet Products and Amenities into a profitable operation selling herbs, gourmet lettuces, and French breads to restaurants as well as establishing and maintaining gardens for five clients. Boles taught himself not only gardening, baking, accounting, and marketing, but also the art of investing– as he rolled his earnings into the stock market. Even in these volatile times, he's making a profit.

But this extraordinary determination and initiative weren't what impressed the committee that made Boles this year's third annual recipient of the Nelson County Summer Festival Scholarship.

"The purpose of the scholarship is community service," says Rhonda Holland, a member of the scholarship committee that voted unanimously to select Boles. "We're looking for students who put themselves out there to serve the community beyond their school activities. Tyler is an amazing young man. He was an exceptional candidate."

Exceptional indeed. Aside from the fact that Boles speaks five languages, carried three advanced placement classes in his senior year, and graduated second in his class at Nelson County High School, this confident, curly-haired young man modestly presented the committee with six pages of volunteer projects with which he's been involved.

Boles used his Spanish fluency to serve as a translator for migrant Mexican workers at Nelson's Rural Health Outreach (RHO) program as well as on two church-sponsored mission trips to Mexico.

As president of both the Student Council Association and the National Honor Society at NCHS, Boles participated in numerous community service activities. Most notable was a gourmet fundraising dinner to raise money to help low-income families obtain prescription medications for their children. These funds were donated to RHO to administer. Boles was also appointed to RHO's steering committee.

Boles served as a member of the Nelson County Leadership Council. For the past two years, this group received money from Virginia Tobacco Settlement funds to mount an anti-smoking campaign at the high school. "We were able to reduce the number [of student smokers] by 30 percent," he says proudly. "It was a wonderful success."

The young entrepreneur is using his scholarship– $4,000 over the next four years– to attend UVA where he expects to major in– what else?– international business. And maybe corporate law.

Tyler Boles