Steering into success

Farm life — and Buchholz's business academy — inspire this dual-enrolled 16-year-old

Katie Douberly, 16, with her show steer Moo and her chocolate labrador, Rosie, at Douberly Farm in Trenton.

Erica Brough
Published: Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 4:19 p.m.

Kate Douberly takes good care of Moo. She grooms him. Gives him baths. Uses a souped-up blow dryer to help his coat stay nice and fluffy. She even has special grooming products, like paint and adhesives, that she uses when he is in the show ring to help his physique stand out to the judge's critical eye. But Moo is no ordinary house pet — he's a 1,300-pound Charolais steer who lives on her family's farm in Trenton and eats about 25 pounds of feed a day.

And Kate is no ordinary 16-year-old.

In addition to raising and showing cattle at area auctions and livestock shows, the Buchholz High School junior is a member of The Academy of Entrepreneurship, a four-year program for students focusing on business, marketing and management skills. A natural leader, Kate is also involved with the student club, Distributive Education Clubs of America, or DECA as it is known, which is an organization that helps prepare students for leadership roles in business, marketing, finance and management.

In addition, she is dual-enrolled, meaning she attends classes at her high school campus for an hour each day and spends the rest of her time at the Santa Fe College campus, earning college credits.

“Most of my classes start at 10 a.m. or 11, [last] for two or three hours, and then I go home,” she says nonchalantly.

Underplaying her accomplishments is typical of Kate, according to her parents.

“She's very self-motivated as far as knowing she has homework and getting it done; knowing she needs to meet deadlines. That's something we never had to push on her,” acknowledges her father, Bill Douberly, owner of Douberly Farms in Trenton.

Despite her busy schedule, Kate still finds time to help raise and show cattle like Moo. It often requires several hours of the day — bathing, walking, grooming and feeding her animals.

“She's very grown up … She's always been very capable, driven,” adds her mother, Jodi, who helps coordinate food safety for Douberly Farms.

Raising and showing cattle may come somewhat naturally — her father, Bill, is a second-generation farmer who now runs the family business, Douberly Farms, and Kate has been around it all her life.

“Farm life” as she jokingly calls it, started off as a fun hobby for Kate. In fact, she was only in the sixth grade when she showed her first cattle.

“The very first [cattle] show, I set her up to not get her feelings hurt,” Bill explains. “Lo and behold she came in third [place] in showmanship.”

Since that auspicious start, Kate has won “Grand Champion” at six events, including three just recently in 2013: the Florida Fat Steer Show, the Alachua County Fair and the North Florida Fair.

At this rate, her passion for raising and showing cattle may even turn into a career. “I'd like to go to UF and the agriculture program IFAS, something along those lines. Maybe vet school, maybe law school,” Kate says.

In the meantime, she stays focused on her immediate goals: managing her schoolwork, staying involved with high school groups and activities, and just being a teenager.

“I'm on the swim team, I'm in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Spanish Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta,” Kate says.

She's also president of the Newberry 4-H, which is the organization that helps put together the cattle shows that she's participated in since the sixth grade.

“We're a new club this year and we're trying to really help the community. We donate canned foods, and we are sponsoring two Newberry families. We are [also] donating gifts Toys for Tots,” she adds.

Kate's teacher, Donna Martin, faculty advisor for DECA, noticed Kate's increased involvement, especially during a recent project called “Mind Your Own Business,” which brought business leaders and speakers together for a community consortium.

“Katie's organizational skills are outstanding, and she is very determined and persistent in achieving the goals that she sets for herself,” says Martin, who is also director of the Academy of Entrepreneurship.

Outside of school, Kate's skills also have landed her a leadership role as one of two youth ambassadors with the Alachua County Fair.

It sounds like a natural fit for Kate, who has been self-motivated from the start and can share her passion and enthusiasm for farm life with others, especially the younger generation.

“I'd like to get more youth involved,” she says of raising and showing cattle.

As for the future, Kate remains in the driver's seat. Her parents are happy to support her, no matter what career she chooses.

“We are just kind of in the background; she pretty much maps out her own path. We're there to assist, help, drive, whatever she needs,” says Bill.

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