Gary Dennis and his wife, Tara (that he also calls “Superwoman”) have seven children – Dara, Reed, Garren, Rhett, Annika, Madisen and McKelle. The family has a passion for livestock and all things agriculture – a passion that impressed former IAC Technical Assistance Specialist – Electa Hare Redcorn, who thought they should share their story about the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Youth Loan Program. “Currently four of our kids have loans through the FSA Youth Program. It’s a great way to get them started with their livestock projects. All our kids also chose to get some show animals and breeding livestock vs. a steer. That way they could continue to raise cattle after the calf was shown,” Dennis said. Dennis also grew up on a farm and ranch and his parents owned a John Deere dealership in Pawnee, Okla. That is how he initially learned the business side of agriculture and was also always involved with livestock and FFA. Today, he is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and continues farming raising alfalfa, hay, and soybeans as well, “The FSA Youth Program is not widely used as much as it could be. Going through the loan program really lets the kids know they own that animal and that they are responsible for paying for the animal and paying the money back. It lets them realize at a young age that when someone loans you money, it is expected to be paid back. It really teaches the stewardship young people need to learn and understand right now.” All the Dennis children started out in 4-H and the oldest boy has now transitioned to FFA. He said the kids really enjoy the rewards of seeing their first and second calves born, “It’s fun to watch them decide if we are going to breed to one of their bulls or do an AI project.” “One thing we have also done as a family is sold farm fresh beef to different individuals,” Dennis said as well. “That way the kids get a great view from inception of the animal to raising the animal and then seeing it processed and going to someone’s home.” Dennis, the CPA, also ensures his family of budding agriculturists learn what it means to file a tax return and what a balance sheet is, “I think they are surprised at the money we do spend, and it helps them to see how it works to pay back the loan money.”
“It has been a good lesson for the kids,” Dennis said regarding the FSA Youth Loan experience and agriculture overall. “Everything starts with agriculture in many ways – from food to fiber to even fuel. The country and world are based on agriculture. It’s a great life lesson to teach kids.”
Reach Gary Dennis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t miss it! Listen to the full interview on the IAC Resiliency through Agriculture Podcast between Matt Denetclaw and Gary Dennis.
Do you want to learn more about FSA Youth Loan opportunities, contact an IAC TA serving your area: www.indianag.org/technicalassistance