Rodeo to Banking: How Heather Raney turned a College Passion into a Career

Three people riding horseback down a country road surrounded by trees
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

When Heather Raney began her childhood passion for horse shows and recreational rides, little did she know that one day her love of equine events would lead to her position with Farmers Bank & Trust.

A native of Fordyce, Ark., Raney grew up around all things horses. Her parents always kept the friendly creatures on their small farm. A childhood filled with trail rides, barrel racing, and shows eventually led to a connection at Southern Arkansas University (SAU) and then on to Farmers Bank & Trust.

As a college student studying agricultural business at SAU in Magnolia, Ark., Raney was a regular at the Southern Arkansas University Rodeo Team’s facilities. Although not a member of the team, she could often be found at the collegiate stables and barns, where she kept and fed her animals. She also used the barn to teach riding lessons to locals, which often included children and grandchildren of employees of Farmers Bank & Trust.

As Fate Would Have It

Heather Raney smiling as she gives her quarter horse a drink with the water hose during a trail ride
Heather Raney is pictured with her Quarter Horse, Ace, during a 2022 trail ride in North Little Rock’s Burns Park.

Raney was still not sold on what profession she was going to pursue, but as fate would have it, she was encouraged to apply for a position at the locally-based bank after graduation. After a short interview, she was hired.

“I really had no idea what I was going to do after college, but I had given lessons for years to people associated with Farmers Bank. I thought I might have a chance for a position there,” Raney said. “I graduated in 2008, so not that many places were really hiring for agricultural business people. I’d say it was a pretty good move, in retrospect.”

Raney began her career with the Bank in new accounts, made her way into lending, and then dabbled in residential loan closings. By 2014, the veteran banking professional was a mortgage originator, where she spent more than nearly 10 years. Today, she is back in the loan department as the HMDA Loan Operations Officer.

“If I had never given all those riding lessons in college, I probably wouldn’t be at Farmers Bank today,” she added.

Rider at Heart

Although she doesn’t have as much time to ride anymore after having four children, Raney still has the passion that has been with her throughout her life. Just recently, she took a trip to Burns Park in North Little Rock, Ark., for a family trail ride. The park includes 1,700 acres right in the middle of central Arkansas. While on the trail, though, you’d never know it, and you’d never know anything other than a peaceful trot along through the park.

“Riding has always been a great way for everyone in my family to come together and enjoy the animals and the outdoors,” said Raney. “We loved it when I was a kid, and we still love it today whenever we get the chance.”