Future leaders earn $20,000 in Colvin scholarships

Farm Forum

Five college students with ag careers in mind recently won $20,000 in scholarship from the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) brand.

Each year, CAB’s Colvin Scholarship Fund recognizes outstanding students out to make a difference in the beef community. The award series honors the legacy of Louis M. “Mick” Colvin, whose dedication to those ideals helped create the brand he led for 21 years.

2016 Colvin Scholarship Awards:

• $6,000 – Shelby Schiefelbein, Kimball, Minn. – Texas A&M University

• $5,000 – Sierra Jepsen, Amanda, Ohio – The Ohio State University

• $4,000 – Rebecca Church, Hastings, Minn. – University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

• $3,000 – Evan Woodbury, Quenemo, Kan. – Kansas State University

• $2,000 – Leah Scholz, Lancaster, Kan. – Kansas State University

Applicants were asked to write an essay on the meaning of sustainability for both producers and consumers.

Shelby Schiefelbein, top award winner, said Millennials are especially concerned because they are technologically oriented, “and have grown up hearing about how their choices affect the environment.”

The junior in animal science with a minor in business and certificate in meat science said the key for beef producers is to communicate their sustainability to consumers. “Using both science and emotion…puts a face on the beef industry.” After graduation, Schiefelbein plans to earn a master’s in business administration and work in agribusiness.

Sierra Jepsen, senior in ag business and $5,000 scholarship winner said consumers need to know today’s beef is raised responsibly, using as few natural resources as possible: “Between 2005 and 2011 alone, water usage was cut by 3%, greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 2% and soil emissions were lessened by 7%, improving land, air and water quality.”

She noted the need to share with consumers the need to use technology, “that efficiency is not an enemy of sustainability,” and to stress the multi-generational families who produce beef. Jepson plans to pursue a master’s in meat science and beef management.

Hastings, Minn., junior and $4,000 winner Rebecca Church decried myths about farmers “being irresponsible stewards of the land,” when in fact they “have to be smart stewards,” because their livelihood depends on it. Facts are complex, she wrote, but consumers can understand sustainability comes down to “respect for the land, for the live cattle and for the end product.”

Evan Woodbury foresees challenges beef producers will face if they don’t use the most sustainable practices “The population has grown slightly over the past years,” he wrote. “I believe that despite what it may seem now, it will be hard to continue to grow the herd and supply.”

Leah Scholz wrote about the importance of reaching out. “The industry as a whole needs to promote education for all consumers through effective communication,” she wrote. “We must work together with consumers to keep each other informed in order to solve the frequent disputes and maintain future sustainability.”

As the top scholarship winners, Schiefelbein and Jepsen also received all-expense-paid trips to the 2016 CAB Annual Conference, Sept. 22-24 in Tucson, Ariz. There they will interact with leaders in the production, packaging, retail and foodservice areas of the beef community.

Launched in 1978 and owned by nearly 25,000 American Angus Association members, CAB is the largest brand of fresh beef in the world. Learn more about the brand at www.certifiedangusbeef.com, or access producer resources at www.cabpartners.com.