NORFOLK, NE - At only 16 years of age, Wyatt Smydra can boast a herd of five cows of mixed breeds and their offspring. The Norfolk Catholic High School junior also is a budding businessman, selling processed meat from his cattle.
Wyatt, of rural Norfolk, began his herd at age 9 with the gift of a bucket calf named Bud from his father, Dennis. Wyatt, a member of the Elkhorn Valley 4-H Club, exhibited Bud for two years at the Madison County Fair & Rodeo.
Half of its meat was later sold with the remainder landing in the family’s freezer. “Bud set a high standard,” Wyatt said. “(His carcass) had a lot of marbling.”
Wyatt then acquired a heifer with her calves adding to his herd numbers and beef cuts sold.
Earlier this year, he unexpectedly became a recipient of business advice from a team of three students enrolled in the Agricultural Marketing System class at Northeast Community College in Norfolk. The class provides an introduction to agribusiness and food products marketing in the U.S.
Wyatt learned of the class through his mother, Tara, associate dean of Agriculture, Math and Science at the College. Brandon Keller, agribusiness instructor, had approached her last fall when he wanted to transform the course into a hands-on class involving local and area small businesses.
Tara Smydra said she thought her son, who owns and operates Smydra Enterprises, might be interested in being one of those businesses. After agreeing, Wyatt communicated with his college team via email, sharing his plans.
In turn, Wyatt said the college students suggested that he focus more on direct marketing of his beef products by establishing a Facebook page “so I could reach out to more customers. All of it (advice) was based on marketing and getting my name out there.”
With added name recognition, Wyatt said that “there’s lots of room for expansion” for his business, which he plans to expand into other ventures.
Wyatt termed his involvement with the college students as valuable, calling it free marketing advice.
“I’ve learned quite a few valuable lessons throughout this (beef operation) process,” including responsibility, said the aspiring engineer. “I have a good work ethic (by living and working on a farm). I’ve also learned how to talk to people and sell my products.”
Proceeds from his meat sales are targeted to his college account. Wyatt said he also was able to fund more than half of the purchase price “for a nice used pickup that I use for everything.”
Wyatt Smydra, of rural Norfolk, is shown with a market steer that was his 2017 Madison County 4-H beef project.