Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation 2020 Young Farmers & Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award winners, Alex and Katie Holtcamp, never want to stop learning, which is what drives them to stay active in the agriculture industry.
Alex manages his family’s six chicken houses and 650 head of cattle, while also raising a few cattle of his own. He also helps Katie care for their horses, which she uses in therapy at their equine therapy center, Dogwood Equine Connection.
“Alex and I have created our own equine assisted therapy business,” Katie says. “I see therapeutic riding clients, equine assisted learning clients and equine assisted psychotherapy clients.”
Together, the couple has built Dogwood Equine Connection from scratch in hopes of assisting their community and raising awareness of rural and farmer mental health.
“Every weekend, we work on improving the therapy center,” Katie says. “We may spend the day building a ramp because I have a client that needs it or bush hogging because I have clients that want to trail ride. This business found us. We are definitely living our dream.”
The Holtcamp’s hard work payed of this year when they were selected as the YF&R Excellence in Agriculture Award winners during their first year participating in the program.
“We were prepared not to win this year,” Katie says. “This was just supposed to get us plugged in. We were told, ‘You don’t win in your first year. It usually takes two or three years. Just do your best and gain the experience.’ We gave it our best go, and lo and behold, they announced our name.”
Although they are new to the YF&R program, Alex and Katie have taken every opportunity to get involved.
“It’s been nice to meet other families who work just as hard as we do, who understand our hours, who understand we cannot text you every single day of the week, but they’re there when you need them,” Katie says. “And, we get to be there when they need us. So, the YF&R program has really provided us a way to network.”
This year, Katie began her second master’s degree in social work, and Alex will continue his involvement in the Thad Cochran Agriculture Leadership Program. Mississippi Farm Bureau President Mike McCormick says the Holtcamps are a great example of leadership in the agriculture industry.
“There are numerous ways to be involved in agriculture without working on a row crop or cattle farm, and the Holtcamps are a great example of that,” McCormick says. “They are definitely an asset to the YF&R program and the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.”
For winning this award, Alex and Katie received a side-by-side ATV, compliments of Southern AgCredit; $1,000, compliments of Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company; $500, compliments of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company; and a Yeti Cooler, compliments of Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance Company.