A new grant program made available by Farm Credit and Farmers Co-op enabled two area youth to show cattle for the first time at the Polk County Fair in August.
Kyla Ferguson, age 12 of Wickes, and Rhyen Martin, age 17 of Hatfield, were chosen from a field of applicants to receive the first two grants. The awards granted in January allowed Kyla and Rhyen to purchase show animals and needed show supplies in early spring.
Farm Credit Vice President Rex Dollar of Mena approached the Polk County Fair Board prior to last year’s fair looking for a way to assist the livestock program since number of students showing cattle at the fair had declined over time. The First Year Show Calf Grant Program was a community collaboration between Farm Credit, Farmers Co-op and the fair board. It is intended to provide an incentive and means for students to have a beef project. To qualify, applicants must be new to showing cattle.
Polk County Extension Agent Carla Vaught is passionate about growing the beef portion of the fair’s livestock shows.
“Cattle is one of the leading industries in Polk County. It’s very important to our economy, but it’s also the project that takes the most work, money and facilities. It’s hard to get new kids started in the beef cattle projects, so I think this is a fantastic program. We’re proud to have it,” Vaught said.
Dollar said Farm Credit is proud to support a program that “encourages personal growth in students.”
“I think the grant project is well suited. It’s definitely agriculture-focused and teaches kids leadership and responsibility,” Dollar said. “It’s an exciting program because this may be the only animals they have in their life, or this opportunity may be the start of their future livestock herd.”
Farm Credit serves rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services, today and tomorrow. With more than 5,300 borrower-stockholders and $1.2 billion in assets, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas is a part of the nationwide Farm Credit System that has served rural America for more than 100 years.