One of the missions of House of Raeford Farms FLOCK is to support youth development in the communities where House of Raeford Farms operates. As part of that mission, House of Raeford’s Arcadia, Louisiana FLOCK team sponsored the 2017 Ag-Kids Memorial Day Barrel Run in Ruston, Louisiana, which featured more than 750 competitors.
Barrel racing is a rodeo event in which riders on horseback attempt to complete cloverleaf patterns around a barrel in the fastest time possible. While riders were racing around the barrels, young people from the Ag-Kids program were hard at work earning scholarship money for their future.
Kids ranging from elementary-age to high school-age participated in everything from cleaning horse stalls to running concession stands and collecting registration forms. They volunteered during the event so they could earn enough hours to be eligible for scholarships provided by the D’Arbonne Range Riders. The organization supports the kids’ travel and entry fees for other agriculture-related events, including showing livestock or competing in rodeo events. Some of the kids will even be competing at Louisiana State University later this year.
Cyd Collins, Breeder Manager for Raeford Farms of Louisiana and an Arcadia FLOCK team member, said many of the Ag-Kids are children or grandchildren of Raeford Farms Growers.
“In an area of the state that is heavily dependent on agriculture, it’s important to spark an interest early for the kids in this parish,” said Collins, who competed in similar events as a child and eventually went on to earn her Master’s degree in Animal Science from Louisiana Tech. “I think it’s important that we’re supporting not only the kids in agriculture, but we’re also supporting our growers and the family unit.”
Collins, who has been with House of Raeford since 2008, said the best part of the Barrel Racing event and others like it is that the kids are earning their way to their own competitions and being introduced to the LSU campus.
In addition to youth development, FLOCK supports charitable organizations that are helping people in the communities where House of Raeford operates. This includes millions of dollars spent to support hunger relief, after-school mentoring, and other programs.