South Dakota rancher publishes new children’s book

On March 1, 2019, Mitchell-based author and rancher, Amanda Radke, released a new children’s book, “Can-Do Cowkids,” which follows her 2011 published work, “Levi’s Lost Calf.”

“Can-Do Cowkids” tells the story of young beef producers, Cody and Cassidy, who invite readers to help in the pasture after a storm passed through the ranch.

Along the way, kids learn how to be “can-do cowkids,” which means working hard, dreaming big and never giving up, no matter how big the obstacles ahead may be.

“Inspiring kids to become ‘can-do cowkids’ is a central theme in the book,” said Radke. “My hope is that after young readers discover this story, they will realize that anything is possible if they set their minds to it.”

As Cody and Cassidy check the cattle, crops and fences after the big rain storm, they also explore agricultural careers. Readers are introduced to veterinarians, truckers, auctioneers, cattle buyers, stockers, cattle feeders, nutritionists, agronomists, conservationists, agricultural scientists and so much more.

“Not only do I want young readers to have fun reading the story and getting to know Cody and Cassidy, but I also want them to know that any kid — whether they grew up on a farm or not — can pursue these exciting and rewarding opportunities in agriculture,” said Radke.

According to the USDA, between 2015 and 2020, there will be an average of 57,900 annual openings for college graduates with expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment. Of those jobs, 27% will be in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); 15% of jobs will be related to sustainable food and biomaterials production; and 12% of the openings will focus on education, communication and governmental services.

Yet, despite these 57,900 available career opportunities in agriculture, there are only 35,400 new U.S. graduates with expertise in these fields of study. The USDA says young people are, “essential to our ability to address the U.S priorities of food security, sustainable energy, and environmental quality in the years to come.”

“With so many job openings available, the sky is really the limit in food production; it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for a kids’ special talents and applying it to a career where we are nourishing people with food, fiber and energy,” said Radke. “My goal with this project was to share an agriculturally-accurate story with elementary students that will nurture their talents, their passions and their confidence in pursuing these exciting opportunities in agriculture.”

“Can-Do Cowkids” was published by the Georgia Beef Board, with cooperation from the Georgia Agriculture Commodity Commission for Beef, Beef Checkoff, Georgia Farm Bureau and Georgia Department of Agriculture.

The book was illustrated by Michelle Weber, a rancher and western artist from Lake Benton, Minn.

“What’s really neat about this book is the illustrations were painted from photographs of my family on our ranch in South Dakota,” said Radke. “My three kids — Scarlett, Thorne and Croix — posed for these images, which helped to bring the story to life. My cowkids love seeing themselves in the pages of the book, and I hope other ranching families will be able to relate to the characters in the story.”

The book’s release coincides with National Ag Day on March 14. Radke will be reading her story at a community-wide event held at the Sanborn Central High School on March 14 at 9 a.m. Anyone is welcome to attend. Books are also available to purchase on Amazon or at

–Amanda Radke