HURON, S.D. - Getting a start in production agriculture isn’t easy. One of South Dakota’s largest agriculture organizations is helping future cattle producers by giving a heifer to an ambitious youth eager to start a herd of their own.
Cole Cavenee, 12, of Miller is the winner of the South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) 2019 Building Your Herd Award and the recipient of a foundation Simmental heifer SDFU purchased from Dale Duxbury of Wessington. “I really wanted a cow of my own,” explains the Miller School District sixth-grader. “I like helping my mom and dad with their cattle, working cows, preg-checking, feeding them and now that I have my own heifer, I can start a herd of my own.”
Announced during the 2019 Western Junior Livestock Show in Rapid City, Cavenee was one of 27 applicants selected by a panel of judges based on his response to questions. A fifth-generation cattle producer and member of the Hand-E-Hands 4-H Club, he enjoys showing cattle, “because I like clipping them and working with them to tame them down.”
The son of Matt and Stephanie Cavenee, in addition to showing cattle, he also shows pigs and is involved in football, baseball and basketball. He makes time for his show cattle, by getting up early, working with them in the mornings during the summer and making time for them after school.
“Showing cattle teaches youth a good work ethic and responsibility because youth have to make sure their animals are fed and taken care of each day,” explains Rocky Forman, SDFU member services coordinator.
Forman grew up showing cattle and helped develop this new award because SDFU leadership recognizes the need to support future producers. “When you look at the prices of buying or leasing land – even pasture – young producers need equity to get the capital they need to get a strong start – that’s the reason we launched this award,” Forman says.
Not only does it take capital, but today’s producers benefit from post-secondary education, explains Karla Hofhenke, SDFU executive director, “For the farm and ranch kids who have the ability to house and care for a heifer, this award provides an opportunity for them to build a herd and a college savings account at the same time.”
College savings is what Cavenee says he plans to do with the money he earns. “Most of the money I earn from the sale of steers will go to my college savings. I want to be an engineer or a farmer.”