Kyle Starnes has served as the weights and physical education teacher at Joel E. Barber school. He has a commercial cattle operation in Laclede County. Photo by Laura L. Valenti.
Photo by Laura L. Valenti

Hometown: Lebanon, Mo.

Family: Wife, Karen; daughters, Karagan (6) and Karsyn (1); and son, Konnor (5)

In Town: For the past 12 years, Kyle Starnes has served as the weights and physical education teacher at Laclede County’s Joel E. Barber C-5 School District. He is also the school’s football, wrestling and track coach. He is an alumni of that same school, as is his mother, Sallie Braboy Starnes. And now, the third generation of the family, Kyle and Karen’s children, are beginning their elementary education in the same school. 

“Without a doubt, the best part of my job is the kids,” Kyle said. “Getting to see them grow and mature into young adults is so much fun. Working with these kids, literally, keeps me young.”

In the Country: “Karen and I live on 46 acres where we currently have 11 head of commercial cattle. My parents, Mike and Sallie Starnes, live up the road on 140 acres where they also run commercial cattle, and my grandparents, Kenneth and Edwina Braboy, are next door on 65 acres, also with a commercial cattle operation. We all work together, helping each other out with what needs to be done.

“We raise two to four pigs each year, mostly so our kids can see where their food comes from. That’s important to us and it’s becoming more important every day. We have a big garden each year and do lots of canning. The beef on our table comes from our cattle, the vegetables, fresh and canned, are from our garden and the chicken and eggs come from Grandma Sally. Our family raises all that and like everybody else in the Ozarks, we also raise lots of weeds and hickory trees,” he added, laughing. “There is such a difference in the beef that comes from our farm as opposed to what comes from the grocery store.

“For many years, we’ve all done commercial cattle but in the last few years, I’ve been moving toward doing more custom beef. So far it has been mainly for family but I’m working on expanding that beyond just the family.”

Kyle’s brother Jake and is family are a military family and live out of state, but manage to come and help when they can and the same is true of his youngest brother, Aaron and family who live locally.

“Over the years, I just keep learning.” Kyle added. “There is such a learning curve to it all. Even a thing like the rotational grazing makes such a big difference in a small operation like mine. I went to the NRCS grazing school and we’re busy now, putting in the warm season grasses. As I’ve learned, I’m not really raising beef as much as I’m raising grass, lots of good grass.

“I love my job, at school and on the farm. I wake up every day and love going to work. I can’t even imagine doing anything else.”


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