Texas FFA News  
Three-Circle Model to Full Circle Agriculture Business    
Friday, June 16, 2023 | Author: Texas FFA News

Agricultural science education prides itself on real-world learning. Millions of Supervised Agricultural Experiences have been successfully completed over the Texas FFA’s 95-year history. Providing students with hands-on learning and personal growth.

Taking a family and a personal passion, and utilizing the skills acquired through the agricultural science education experience to cultivate a fruitful long-term agriculture business, is just one excellent example of the ideal. Kendra Elder, a former Whitney FFA member, did just that.

“The work ethic, drive, and leadership opportunities that were presented to me as an FFA member were endless,” said Elder. “I knew that I wanted this business to be long-term with my family. The agriculture industry has impacted my life so much.”

Elder is a third-generation cattle rancher that grew up on a cow-calf operation. After watching her older brother, Dillon, begin showing as a junior FFA member, she felt she couldn’t wait to be involved. She was able to talk her dad into bringing up a young calf, that was recently weaned, to allow her to have a project to work on.

“My start began at age five with my first bucket calf heifer, Claire,” said Elder. “At a young age, I gained a true love for raising purebred Charolais cattle with my family.”

When she was of age and was eligible to show under the junior FFA program herself, she purchased her first official show heifer named Jewel, a Charolais composite heifer.

“I prepared all summer for the American Charolais Junior National Show,” said Elder. “I worked on Jewel each day, learned proper showmanship techniques, rinsed and washed, and even recited my prepared speech for the leadership contests.”

That first heifer would ultimately jump-start years of personal growth and a business for the young agriculturalist.  

As the years passed, she fell in love with the livestock industry. When she was 12 years old, she and her family raised what she considers the “ultimate start to her SAE project.” A heifer named Pearl, who was out of that first show heifer.

“My family and I were a team,” said Elder. “I learned about proper nutrition and spent many hours cultivating a plan to be successful. I put every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears into that heifer.”

The hard work paid off when that project went on to win multiple titles, including Supreme Champion Female at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and Supreme Champion Female at Rodeo Austin.

“This one cow completely changed the outlook on our herd and has made a huge impact on the longevity of our business.”

This includes the cultivation of her high school Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) through the continuation of Elder Cattle Company.

“The decision on what my SAE would be was easy,” said Elder. “Some would say it was a given, but I see it as a lot of hard work by my family to make sure their children could inherit a successful program.”

She states that she loved learning about all aspects of the business from breeding decisions, vaccinations, nutrition, environmental conditions, calving season, halter breaking, and marketing of the animals.

Elder’s SAE earned her a place as a state finalist as a Star Greenhand in Production and once again as a  Star Lone Star in Production.

“The industry has impacted my life so much and I saw a future continuing to raise purebred cattle,” said Elder. “The drive and adrenaline did not go away for me after finishing showing livestock through FFA.”

She states that the goal for Elder Cattle Company is for their females to produce successful offspring that serve as attributes to other cattle herds or are successful in the market ring at stock shows across the country. They focus on maternal qualities such as herd performance, udder quality, good-footed females, and overall longevity in the production pen.

“My dad and I make breeding decisions to make sure we are meeting our overall goal for our herd,” said Elder. “In the last years, we have been keeping our heifers to improve our fast-growing cow herd, market and selling our club calf steers, and have sold Charolais bulls to breeders across the country.”

She credits her family and ag teachers, Brad and Missy Coffelt, for their crucial role in her ag education journey.

Elder also credits her FFA experience, which also included LDEs, CDEs, and leadership positions, with helping her get to where she is today in her career. In addition to her agribusiness, she is an event planner for Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Life is full circle,” said Elder. “I was eight years old, wandering the streets of Will Rogers Memorial Center at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, curious about what I would do as I got older. Now I am here.”

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