Best Friends Find Niche Through FSA Rural Youth Loan Program

Caylex Strickland with cow-calf operation started with funds from FSA’s Rural Youth Loan program.

By Pamela Sikes, Coffee County FSA, Alabama

Caylex Strickland and Ivy Bright are two teenagers with an entrepreneurial spirit. Born just one week apart and best friends since grade school, it is no wonder the pair followed similar paths to owning cattle operations.

After seeing Ivy’s success with a calving operation, Caylex decided to go a similar route and apply for a Rural Youth Loan at the Coffee County Farm Service Agency in Alabama and kick start her own business with cow-calf pairs.

“I was already doing a lot of the work around our farm,” said Caylex.  “My dad taught

Ivy Bright with her favorite cow, Oreo

me how to drive at a young age. I’ve been driving a tractor for several years helping my dad bush hog pastures and plant rye and oats. Now with my own cows and calves, I am able to see a really good return for all my hard work.”

The Rural Youth Loan Program provides financial assistance and business planning to help youth get started in agriculture while ensuring the future of family farms.  The program is available to youth ages 9-20, who are active in an agriculture program like  4-H and Future Farmers of America. The maximum loan amount under the program is $5,000.00.

Caylex said she enjoys the financial aspect of her business tremendously. She raised and sold one crop of calves and used the returns to pay ahead on her loan and purchase a laptop to keep financial records and track inventory.  She plans to continue using her profits to pay her loan off early and increase her herd.

Both Caylex and Ivy are second generation friends whose fathers Chock Bright and Todd Strickland; and mothers, Lora Ledford Bright and Rhonda Hood Strickland, also have been friends since grade school.

With the help of their parents, the pair has been able to prosper in their business.

“I love my animals,” said Ivy. “I look forward to getting home from school each day and checking on them and just spending time with them.”

Ivy decided to get into her cow-calf operation after receiving information on the Rural Youth Loan program from her dad. A lover of all kinds of animals—and owner of a cat, horse, three dogs and a cow—Ivy decided to give it a try. She purchased seven brood cows and wasn’t sure she would be able to sell any of the calves once she grew attached to them. It became harder after she named them. Her favorite is “Oreo” who often eats from her hand.

Ivy plans to continue raising calves and use her new found knowledge to one day become a veterinarian. Caylex plans on using her profits to help pay for college.

“[The FSA Rural Youth Program] has taught us many things and afforded us many opportunities,” said Caylex. “We would definitely recommend it to our friends.”

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