Ranching Royalty

Shelbi Rice, the 2018-2019 National High School Rodeo Association Queen, was raised on a family farm in Arkansas. Photo courtesy of the Rice family.

By Billie Hall, Farm Service Agency

Shelbi Kay Rice wears many hats and most recently it’s a cowboy hat adorned with a crown.

From Cattle to a Crown

The 2018-2019 National High School Rodeo Association Queen was raised on a family farm in rural Crawford County, Arkansas. This 18-year-old has been working cattle and putting up hay her whole life, while also working at the family-owned and operated Hero’s Rodeo Arena where she trains horses and tends livestock.

Shelbi served as the 2017-2018 Arkansas State High School Rodeo Queen before receiving the national title. It had been 50 years since a contestant from Arkansas held this title. As queen, Shelbi worked closely with many corporations who support agriculture and the western way of life. Her platform was fighting hunger, and she established the Rodeo for a Cure–Project Hunger organization that raises money to supply food pantries and Blessing Boxes throughout the country.

Starting a Herd

Shelbi used an FSA Youth Loan to purchase five heifers and has since built her herd up to 12 head of cattle. Photo courtesy of the Rice family.

Shelbi has always been an active member of 4-H and the National FFA Organization. She is a 2019 graduate of Cedarville High School where she served as her FFA chapter’s reporter and president. Through the FFA, Shelbi earned a State FFA Degree and will be receiving her American Degree soon–the highest degree achievable in FFA. During her time with these organizations she learned the importance of the family farm to her community, the nation, and the world.

As a 4-H member, Shelbi decided she wanted to start her own herd of Angus cattle but wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. A family friend talked to her about the benefits of the youth loan program through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

In 2014, Shelbi received a $5,000 loan and bought five heifers. After successfully paying her loan in full, Shelbi now has 12 head of cattle.

“As a young teenager I was able to start my cattle operation and learn from the beginning how hard work and responsibility are needed in the cattle industry and everyday life,” Shelbi said.

Moving Forward

Shelbi is now enrolled at Southern Arkansas University where she is studying agricultural business. She plans to use the profit from her operation to help pay for the portions of tuition and books not covered by scholarships.

“For the last five years, I have been selling my calves, and saving the money for college,” she said. “I’ve learned how to manage money and save for my future endeavors.”

While attending college, Shelbi plans to expand her herd by utilizing a microloan from FSA. One day, she hopes to be able to purchase a farm of her own. If she needs assistance with the financing, she knows that FSA will be there to help.

“I love being able to work and check cattle with family,” said Shelbi. “It is always a great time to slow down and enjoy life’s greatest blessings.”

More Information

USDA offers a variety of risk management, disaster assistance, loan, and conservation programs to help agricultural producers in the United States weather ups and downs in the market and recover from natural disasters as well as invest in improvements to their operations. Learn about additional programs.

For more information about USDA programs and services, contact your local USDA service center.

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