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2nd Annual Steers for Students Program

The Sandhills Cattle Association developed the 'Steers for Students' program as a new educational program geared toward the youth of the Sandhills. The way it works is the donated calves will be penned with the other calves during our Educational, Performance, and Carcass Contest, and the ranchers will still receive the donated calf's data during and after the contest. However, the 'Steers for Students' program calves will be sent to Husker Meats LLC of Ainsworth, Nebraska, instead of being shipped to larger plants like the other calves. Jim Pinney of Husker Meats and other industry professionals will offer local students and producers a chance to learn about carcass evaluation while experiencing how a packing plant operates. Schools the calf donor chooses will receive the donated beef for their school lunch programs at little to no cost!

This year we have six schools included in the portion of the program where they will receive ground beef for their school lunches, thanks to the generous donation of calves from ranchers. Including Herb & Lori Hall – Halls & Sons, Wes Kilmurry - Atkinson Livestock Market, Craig & Katie O'Kief – Walking X Cattle, Logan & Jennifer Hill – HI/ Cattle Co., and Richard Lackaff - Lackaff Cattle Corp. The beef from these six steers is going to Thedford, Dunning (Hall), Atkinson (Kilmurry), Valentine (O'Kief), Stapleton (Hill), Bassett (Lackaff), and the steaks going to both the ranchers that donated and the Sandhills Cattle Association.

Our Steers for Students Program has luckily grown this year and has been very rewarding for us & students alike! We invited several schools that were not included in the program so they would have the opportunity to observe the locker & learn as well. Over 90 students & adults visited Husker Meats this year during our two programs, on April 17 and June 30. This is a huge success for us because so many of the students & adults, too had never been inside a locker before!

At our program on June 30, we had students attend from Valentine, Ainsworth, Bassett, and Bartlett, as well as ranchers Craig O'Kief and Richard Lackaff. Husker Meats had the actual donated calves hanging for carcass evaluation that was performed by Nicolas Herrera from UNL. Nicolas thoroughly explained carcass evaluation to the group & how Ribeye area, Kidney Pelvis, & Heart Fat, and Marbling all matter in the end results of our beef! The students loved judging the animals & the ranchers got to see firsthand how their animals look before they are processed.

After that, we visited with owner Jim Pinney and learned about how the locker functions on a day-to-day basis. While the butcher was processing the carcass, Jim gave us lots of insight into the different cuts that can come from a bovine & even how to cook certain kinds of beef differently. Jim said that brisket was never used back in the day because people just didn't know how to cook it! How crazy is that! Husker Meats also packages, tenderizes, smokes, and grinds all the meat as requested by the owners. It was fascinating seeing all the various machines they use and the different ways you can process a side of beef.

After our morning tour was over, we had a BBQ rib lunch and sent everyone on their way! Husker Meats is working on finishing processing the calves & soon, we will have ground beef shipped to the participating schools!

We have received donations for the processing fees of the animals from the Rock County Community Fund ($1,000) to cover processing for Bassett and Jack & Linda Wolf ($250) for Atkinson. We still need donations for Dunning, Stapleton, Valentine, & Atkinson to make sure these schools will get Sandhills raised ground beef for their upcoming school year! If you want to help ensure that a school receives its beef absolutely free, please contact us at the Sandhills Cattle Association about a donation today! Contact us at 402-376-2310 or

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