Dilyn Alexander, a freshman at Norwood High School, has received an FFA award. With $3,050 awarded to her by investor First Farm Bank last week, Alexander will attend school for artificial insemination (AI) in cattle, improve the genetics in her own herd and hopefully do some reproduction work for other local beef producers, too.
In October, under the guidance of teacher Catherine Kolbet, Alexander applied for a state FFA grant. Then, along with many others throughout Colorado, she sent in a video and wrote an essay on her agricultural goals. Out of that group, six in the state were selected to compete in a “Shark Tank” style session with investors on the Front Range.
Last Thursday evening, Alexander made her pitch and explained her AI goals. Then, she was sponsored by Cinch, a Western clothing company, and was outfitted for the presentation. At the same time, the six participating families in the state were sent a gourmet meal to prepare and have ready for the online Zoom meeting.
Already, Alexander is part of a multi-generational ranching family. She has been raising beef since she was born and showing beef projects since she was a small child.
After the Nov. 12 meeting, Alexander was pleased — and a bit surprised — to learn that she received the backing of First Farm Bank to attend AI school in the spring.
Reproduction is fascinating to Alexander, and she wants to use her knowledge to improve the genetics in the herd of 10 cows she currently has. She wants to breed to specific bulls and improve the quality of calves she gets — something local rancher and Fair Board President Regan Snyder has been helping her with the last few years.
In addition, Alexander wants to help other beef producers in her community AI their cows, too.
The 14-year-old has her own brand, one she created and registered with the state: the bar reverse D swipe. She runs her cows in Nucla with her grandfather (Papa Kenny) and does her own vaccinating and management.
Last year, at the San Miguel Basin Fair, Alexander showed the first steer she bred and raised herself. That steer won second place in the carcass contest.
Now, with the investor’s backing, she’ll have quarterly meetings this year to report on her spending and progress. From her background in 4-H, she knows recordkeeping and accounting quite well.
She’s set to attend the 7 Triangle 7 AI school in Akron, Colorado, this spring. In the meantime, she’ll be looking online for bulls she wants to breed to, and will AI her herd in May. Then, she’ll have show calves for the following year (2022), and some of those she may sell to aspiring 4-H showmen.
She’s not sure at this point what career path she’ll take after high school, but she knows that beef ranching will always be a side business for her, as well as a hobby.
She said she’s grateful for both Kolbet and Snyder.
“Ms. Kolbet has been a big help with the whole process,” she said, “and Regan Snyder helped me with AI, she taught us how, that’s what my inspiration was. She helps with what bulls and genetics, too.”