• Hometown: Plato, Mo.
• Family: Wife, Kora
In Town: Elijah Dowden, a graduate of Plato High School, landed a position at Commerce Bank in Columbia, Mo., as a personal banker after graduating from Missouri State University in 2019.
Legacy Bank and Trust announced it was closing its Plato, Mo., branch in May 2020, and Heritage Bank of the Ozarks took over the bank, which lead Elijah back to the Ozarks.
“Heritage is agriculture-focused and kind of fit the bill,” Elijah said. “Heritage wanted someone local with an agriculture background, so they got it. I started in March.”
Today, Elijah works with customers to secure farm, auto and home loans, and other financial services.
“I remember getting my first cattle loan in high school,” he said. “I feel like I’m helping the community, and having a bank here is something we need. I’m glad I’m here to provide it.”
In the Country: Elijah’s family has been farming in the Ozarks since 1837. His family were dairy farmers until 2011, switching to beef cattle production. Along with his father Leo and younger brother Able, Elijah is part of a family cow/calf operation with about 1,260 acres. Leo runs about 300 head, and Able and Elijah have 140 momma cows they own together.
“I have a little of everything. I like black baldies, but I also have Red Angus, Shorthorn, Charolais, a little of everything,” Elijah said, calling his herd “universally inclusive.” “When I started, I bought young heifers and put a Red Angus bull on them and never had to pull a calf. Now we are running a red-white face bull.
“We save back some heifers every year to replace some older cows, and we would like to expand, it’s just being able to find a place to expand. We rent a couple of farms, but we are at full capacity right now.”
The Dowden brothers put up their own hay, as well as their father’s hay, and cut on shares with others in the area. Cows are primarily sustained on forages, with some supplemental cubes offered in the winter months.
“Our cows like fescue, and they do well on it,” Elijah added. “We also have plenty of spring ponds, so we don’t have to worry about too much about water in the dry years.”