NWC student awarded for cattle herd

Posted 11/16/23

When she was 8 years old, Kyelynn Coombe’s parents gave her a Hereford cow.

That first cow was just the beginning. At 14 she joined FFA and submitted her growing herd as a long term …

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NWC student awarded for cattle herd


When she was 8 years old, Kyelynn Coombe’s parents gave her a Hereford cow.

That first cow was just the beginning. At 14 she joined FFA and submitted her growing herd as a long term project. And this year, at 19, Coombe’s herd of 132 cattle won her a national award in beef production entrepreneurship. 

“It was an indescribable feeling … after you work hard for something and you finally reach that moment where it’s like all your hard work paid off, it was that,” Coombe said. “It’s just an indescribable awesome feeling.”

Coombe is a sophomore at Northwest College and an FFA member from Edgar, Montana — she is not involved with FFA at a collegiate level but can compete through next year, she said. This year Coombe earned herself a slot as one of four finalists in beef production entrepreneurship at the 96th Annual National FFA Convention and Expo Nov. 1-4 in Indianapolis. Coombe won $500 as a state finalist and another $500 as the national award winner; the winnings are to be used to continue to advance her project. 


Going nationwide

Coombe’s herd had already been producing success for her ahead of her 2023 nationals win. As a freshman in high school she won the title of star greenhand in her district, using her herd to win the award. Coombe continued to use her project at the state convention that year and competed with it throughout her high school career.

“So four-five years later I’m still competing with that same project, now at the national level,” Coombe said. “That moment (winning star greenhand)  touched me that this is something that I love doing and I get to compete while doing it. This is what I do at home, this is what I do on the side, this what I want to do in the future, and I now get to compete with it.”

To take her project nationwide Coombe had to first submit her project and win at the state level — after that she moved on to competing for a slot as a nationals finalist. When she touched down in Indianapolis she only had to be on time and on stage to find out if she won. 

“It didn’t hit me until they introduced us all and then they were like ‘the national winner is …’ and then they said my name and I honestly froze for a second and continued but it was nerve wracking, but a good nerve wracking.”


It all goes back to middle school

Coombe’s tenure with FFA first began when she was a middle schooler — neither of her parents were members of the organization and while one cousin was a member they were much older.

“I had seen those kids in high school that you admire so much, some of the girls and boys that I admire so much, especially the ones that were really involved in ranching and stuff they were in FFA,” Coombe said. “So I was like, ‘I want to be like them,’ so I joined FFA too.”

As time went on it became clear that FFA was a good match for Coombe. She went on to become an FFA officer for the state of Montana. But before that Coombe had to come up with a project called a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) in eighth grade. Coombe chose to use her herd, which meant years of bookkeeping and maintenance of the herd. When she made it to nationals her three competitors were also in college because of the time that the beef production entrepreneurship category requires.


FFA made her who she is and who she will be

“Eighth grade year you’re about to go into high school, you’re starting all these new organizations and activities and I was really heavily involved in sports too,” Coombe said. “So adding this to my plate only helped me grow as an individual. The thing with FFA that is extremely neat is the people who have the same interests as me, we’re all for agriculture, we’re all very strong people, but it develops you as an individual.” 

Coombe said that the organization developed her leadership and public speaking skills and confidence. Her SAE that she started as an eighth grade student has also now given her a path to follow in the future. 

Because of what she learned as an FFA member, when she had the opportunity to buy 124 cattle to add to the eight, she took it. 

“It’s only going to push me to become a better person. And honestly, it’s setting me up for my future. And so that’s what I have to face them for me. And I just realized like every year I just grew as a person and as an individual and so that’s why so I believe in the organization so much and that’s why I love it as well.”