Grace Britton of Janesville is one of 11 youths in a five-state area to be awarded a heifer through the Minnesota Youth Beef Experience Program.
The program, also called MYBEP, takes applications from 12-16-year-olds who live in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota and are involved in FFA, 4-H or junior Breed Association.
Cattle producers in the region donate heifers to the program every year, which aims “to help young cattle enthusiasts get their feet wet in the beef business.”
Britton is a sophomore at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton and is involved in the local FFA and 4-H.
The program first came to her attention when a friend of hers won a couple of years ago. She has since applied for the program a couple of times.
“I’ve been showing cattle for three years now,” Britton said. “I thought this was a really neat program because it helps get your name out there a little bit and it’s a really big learning experience.”
To apply, she had to get two letters of recommendation and fill out a form asking questions that included information about the farm site at which the heifer would be living. The criteria for selection included a commitment to agriculture and clearly defined future goals.
Britton had to write an essay about why she wanted a heifer, and she also got to choose what breed she wanted. She chose the Simmental, which she says is her favorite.
She was doing homework when the call came telling her she had been chosen, and she was ecstatic.
“I was speechless, I was so excited,” she said. “I couldn’t stop smiling for the next week and a half.”
There was a strong sense of accomplishment, as she was selected from a pool of over 90 applicants in the five-state area.
Recipients are responsible for raising and breeding the animals in addition to keeping records on their care. They have to provide monthly progress reports to the original owners and the Minnesota Beef Expo.
Britton says she has learned a lot from the experience, including how to ration feed.
“When I showed my last heifer, I got her a little too over-conditioned, so this year I really want to change that,” she said. “She’s on five different feed rations right now.”
She says her goal for this year is to improve her showmanship skills.
“I’ve already been doing fairly well at shows these past few months,” she said.
One of the year’s recipients will be chosen for a Minnesota Youth Beef Experience Achievement Award that will be given out at the Minnesota Beef Expo in October. Judges will evaluate each recipient in categories that include showmanship, progress reporting, scrapbook and interview. The recipient with the highest overall score will receive the award, which includes a $750 scholarship.
Britton is looking forward to that competition as well.
“I’ve been working really hard since I got her,” she said. “I’m working specifically on her showmanship, but also on taking reports. I have to track all that I spend on her and what she’s eating per day. I’m looking forward to what she turns out to look like.”
In the meantime, she has also been learning a lot from the donors of the heifer: Matt, Brianna, Neil and Sheila Pearson of Pearson Cattle in Grove City.
“I contact Matt once a week to keep him updated on the heifer,” she said.