Jake Foust is a diamond in the rough. That’s how his teachers describe the East Valley High School senior; he’s not a typical high school student, he’s rare.
Unlike most seniors planning their future, Foust isn’t heading to college after graduation. He already knows what he’s doing with his life. Instead of sitting in a classroom, working toward a four-year degree, Foust will be working for himself in his own firewood cutting business.
At the age of 10, he learned how to raise calves on his grandparents’ farm and, when the calves were old enough, he would sell them. It was the first time he made his own money and the entrepreneur inside of him began to grow. He wasn’t too much older before his dad, Roy, taught him how to cut wood. “I learned just about everything I know from him,” Foust said.
But, just before his sophomore year, Foust’s life changed. His dad was killed in a car accident. He said that he was sad to lose his dad, but it gave him the drive he needed to be successful. “I wanted to make my dad proud using what he taught me.”
Since losing his dad, Foust has been investing in himself and investing in his future. He takes automotive classes at NEWTECH Skills Center in the morning and is finishing up his graduation requirements in the afternoon at East Valley. He said he enrolled in the classes at the Skills Center so he could fix things if they broke down. After school, Foust goes to work cutting wood, cleaning up the fields on his grandparents’ farm and feeding his calves and goats.
Foust lives on the farm, and his mom, Laura Burdette, sisters Emily and Melissa, and stepfather, Scott, live in Deer Park. Burdette talks to Foust regularly and said he’s very focused. “It’s his plan, which is really important. I know whatever he does, he’s going to be successful, whether it’s this or something else,” she said.
As for academics, Foust said he did well in the classes he liked, but otherwise he did the work to get through the class. Foust’s sophomore biology teacher, George Barlow, described him as a pretty amazing kid. “He just has a mature, businesslike personality and a great work ethic that is going to make him very successful,” Barlow said.
Todd Slatter, Foust’s DECA teacher from his freshman through junior years, said Foust is mature beyond his years. “I think Jake’s an extremely hard worker; I think that’s his best quality,” Slatter said.
“Most kids go home and watch TV or work at a fast food job. I know what I want to do,” Foust said. And, because he’s been planning for so long, Foust also knows he can make his firewood cutting business a lifelong career.
His mom knows he’ll accomplish his goals, too. “Jake took it (the death of his father) in a positive direction and it drove him to be successful. I know his dad would be really proud of him,” Burdette said.