If there is a single local model for business success, it might be 17 year-old Bermudian Springs High School senior Chloe Plesic, who, with her parents, Rebecca and Chris, have taken one pet rabbit they bought 5 years ago and turned it into a rabbitry empire that is funding her planned nursing degree at the University of Pittsburgh.
Chloe, a cheerleader, and honors student, has taken her love of rabbits and turned it not just into a business that sells rabbits, for show, for pets, and for meat, but also created a model of social service and community engagement.
Chloe said she raises three breeds of rabbits that are sold for different reasons. “Mini Lops are primarily purchased as pets,” she said. “They live around 6-8 years and have a good and calm temperament.” New Zealand and Californian rabbits, on the other hand, have a different destination. “We sell these live rabbits to those who wish to have rabbit meat; it’s the only meat your body can fully digest,” she said.
Chloe also breeds rabbits for show, and they have won numerous awards. “In sports you watch a kid excel and they go up and win. Chloe does this with rabbits,” said Chris. Chloe and her family have participated in competitions in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Tennessee. “I only show the rabbits I breed, and which can show the full pedigree of each rabbit that competes,” said Chloe.
Chris said Chloe has been the National Grand Champion 2 years in a row with her “meat pens,” meaning she has bred and raised the best of show when it comes to rabbits sold for meat consumption. She also placed first in 2020 for the top Mini Lot youth. She has been to three nationals and won the best display of the overall Mini Lot herd, which means all her rabbits placed in the top 5 of their classes.
Despite her work with the business and in competitions, Chloe says these successes do not compare with the importance of the social work and community outreach she does. What provides her the most joy, she said, is working with the community, such as in special needs clubs and nursing homes, where she brings her rabbits as therapy. Through her work with others in rabbitry, Chloe has inspired many others to take up the competition and fostered a sense of strength for other girls who want to see themselves succeed.
Beyond her work ethic, time management and public speaking skills, and her competitive spirit, Chloe said her abilities in “building bonds and creating friendship” are most important because they inspire others to do their best and pursue their success in the realm of rabbit competition.
Seeing someone she had mentored beating her in a competition “means more than any one of those ribbons” she has won.
Sam Arkin is a current Junior at Gettysburg College majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies. He also minors in Art History. His home is New Jersey and he enjoys practicing art, biking, and relaxing along the beach.