Sixth Grader Starts Raising Herd of Cattle,
Saving for College
Bloomfield, Neb. - Karly Jensen, like most kids her age around the country, is counting down the days of summer until school begins again. What’s different about Karly is that when she heads back to school, in addition to her school work, she’ll be continuing to raise a herd of cattle on her family’s farm.
This spring, Karly bought four cows using a Farm Service Agency youth loan for $5,000. Her loan was funded in March of this year, by funds made available through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Over the spring and summer she has been hard at work feeding calves and doing other work around the farm. By doing chores and raising cattle that will some day go to market, Karly is able to earn back the money she needs to pay back the loan and hopefully save a little bit as well.
Karly has always helped her dad on the farm, but there’s something special about actually owning some of her own cattle. “When I go outside during calving time and they’re getting ready to calf, I get excited to have my own cow and calf,” she said.
The cows Karly owns are mixed in with the rest of her dad’s herd of around 400, but she has named each one of her own livestock and can identify them on sight.
When asked what she likes most about living on a farm and raising cattle, she mentions taking care of the cattle and working along side her dad.
But, her favorite thing? “I really like calving time,” she says. As the heifers get close to the time for their calves to be born, Karly keeps an eye on them, making sure that when it’s time for the calf to come, the family is ready.
“She’s gotten so that she’ll say dad, mom, I’m going to check the cows,” said her dad, Darren Jensen. “She’s always wanted to go along, and she’s old enough that she can take the four-wheeler and she’ll take off and she’ll know what she’s looking for. She’ll come back and say ‘Cow #211 is gonna have a calf by tonight.’”
It is evident that Karly is enjoying her work with cattle on the farm and her dad appreciates the help. Mr. Jensen is also pleased that his daughter has a way to build a college fund, while at the same time learning life lessons and gaining firsthand knowledge of how an agri-business operates.
He explained how this small beginning group of cattle has the potential to provide a solid asset capable of producing revenue that could fund his daughter’s college tuition in 6 or 7 years.
“Right now she’ll hopefully have 6 cows that will be having a calf next year. Out of the calves she has this year, hopefully one has replacement potential,” he said. “She can pull one out and sell the others to pay off the loan, pasture rent and her expenses. She can borrow again, buy a few more, and keep the ball rolling. Then, she can gradually increase the herd size, and put some in the bank account.”
Not only does Karly have the potential to build up savings for college, she’ll enter the classroom with hands-on business and science experience that many of her fellow classmates will not have had.
For more information on FSA youth loan programs, contact your local FSA county office.