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Calf Challenge Spotlight

Up for the Challenge

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Meet Two 2016 AKSARBEN Calf Challenge 4-H Exhibitors

By: Aliesha Dethlefs, Public Relations Intern

With the AKSARBEN Stock Show this September, two exhibitors are preparing their steers for exhibition. Meet Taylor Heim, 18, and Morgan Mills, 15, who are both participants in AKSARBEN’s 2016 Calf Challenge program and represent Cass County, Nebraska. The final show for their Calf Challenge projects will take place at the AKSARBEN Stock Show Friday, September 23.

Taylor Heim

Heim wanted to participate in the Calf Challenge program because, “You get to see and do the work from start to finish.”

The calves are provided by the same producer, giving the exhibtors an even starting postion. For Heim, the Calf Challenge program process has taught her how to keep accurate records of feed, how to calculate the weekly rate of gain and interact with someone she has never met in person.

“I have a very supportive Calf Challenge sponsor and am in contact with him frequently,” said Heim.

Heim begins her day with her steer, Shiner, by getting him into the barn at 6 a.m. where she will rinse, dry and feed him. Her steer is left under the fans all day and fed again at 6 p.m. Heim’s sponsor is very positive and typically responds to her letters over email.

“He emailed me good luck on my college finals, which was something he didn’t have to do,” stated Heim.

Heim is a native of Plattsmouth, Nebraska and is a sophomore at Iowa State University. She is pursuing a degree in Agricultural Business with hopes of staying involved in the beef and agricultural industry as a whole.

Morgan Mills

The Calf Challenge is a family affair for Mills as her two older sisters and dad participated in the program.

“I saw my siblings gain more knowledge about the beef industry and I wanted to have the chance to learn too,” said Mills.

Through the Calf Challenge program process, Mills has learned how to interact with new calves.

“I have grown up showing cattle that my family has raised,” stated Mills.

Mills works with her steer, Winnie, every morning. She feeds Winnie and ties him up in her cooler room or under the fans. Throughout the day, Mills rinses and leads her steer around, feeding him again at night. Mills’ sponsor lives close to her and even had the chance to watch her compete at the Cass County Fair.

Mills said, “My sponsor has impacted me the most through my writing. It helped me think more about why I show cattle and why 4-H is important.”

Mills calls Weeping Water, Nebraska home and is a sophomore at Elmwood-Murdock High School. She participates in volleyball, basketball and track when not showing cattle. Mills hopes to stay involved in the cattle industry and is eager to help her younger brother compete.

Both Heim and Mills began showing cattle through 4-H as soon as they able to and have exhibited multiple years at the AKSARBEN Stock Show. Heim also participates in the Chianina/Maine Anjou Junior Association shows throughout the year.

The Calf Challenge Program is an educational program for qualifying 4-H youth to raise a market steer, expand their knowledge of the beef industry and network in a competitive format.There are two phases to the Calf Challenge Program: the skillathon phase and the production phase. The skillathon phase is a test of the exhibitor’s knowledge that focuses on beef project skills. The production phase consists of mentor reports, a record book, skillathon score, rate of gain, live placing during the stock show and showmanship.The three calf challenge calves with the overall highest combined scores sell in the AKSARBEN Purple Ribbon Auction. The Calf Challenge, originally named the Catch-a-Calf Contest, dates back to 1977.


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