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82nd Annual Convention & Trade Show Wrap Up - Day 2

Valentine, NE - Bright and early on Tuesday, September 21st, we started our 82nd Annual Convention here in Valentine at the Cherry County Fairgrounds. First thing in the morning, we enjoyed delicious doughnuts and cinnamon rolls thanks to Old Mill and our sponsor Shane Keller with RIOMAX. Our morning’s first speaker was Dr. Derrell Peel from Oklahoma State University, thanks to our friends at BigIron Auctions – Livestock Division. Dr. Peel spoke about the cattle futures market and the current outlook for ranchers and received a lot of good questions and answers from the crowd. After Dr. Peel, we had a panel discussion on How To Prep Your Calves for Pre-Harvest Success with locals Greg Arendt of Valentine Livestock and Mike Miles of Miles Feeding. We had impressive interaction from the audience during this panel, making it a substantial educational success! After the speakers were done for the morning, we had a burger lunch served by Niobrara Valley Vineyards, and our trade show with nearly forty-five vendors also opened up at this time.

During lunch, the Annual Business Meeting and Election of Officers were held. After reciting the pledge of allegiance, the first order of business was to approve the minutes from the 2020 Annual Business Meeting from last year’s convention. After reading and reviewing the minutes, Kurt Arganbright moved to approve the minutes, and Craig O’Keif seconded the motion. Elysabeth Kierl discussed changes to our memberships. She reported that currently, we have 12 corporate members, 17 partner members, five affiliate feedyard members, 349 producer members, 203 platinum associate members, and 152 associate members. We also mail to 215 additional subscribers, who mostly producer members designate. We then had reports from our various committees. Rick Marlatt spoke about the 2nd Annual Fall Feeder Calf Preview. Craig O’Kief gave the golf report, and Ryan Adamson asked for feedback on the changing convention dates. Elysabeth Kierl discussed the 2020 EP&C Contest. We then moved on to the approval of the Executive Board of Directors. The proposed Executive Board of Directors for 2021-22 is President Ryan Adamson, Vice President Darian Fuelberth, and Treasurer Rick Marlatt. We then introduced our 2021-22 Board of Directors Nominees: Chad Johnston of North Platte, NE, Wesley Kilmurry of Atkinson, NE, and Richard Fairhead of Gorden, NE. Craig O’Kief moved to approve the motion, and Rick Marlatt seconded it. All approved of the new nominees being inducted onto the board. After the new nominations were approved, we had no other business to discuss. Jeremy Cast then moved to adjourn our Annual Business Meeting, and Craig O’Kief seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 1:06 PM (CT).

We jumped right back into some great informational speakers for the afternoon schedule. We had the privilege of Rusty Kemp and David Briggs to join us and speak about their new upcoming packing plant in North Platte, NE, Sustainable Beef LLC. Next, we discussed Post Harvest Success with Hannah Raudsepp and Jim Pinney with Husker Meats LLC. Hannah spoke with attendees about avenues for selling beef directly to consumers off their ranches. Jim Pinney demonstrated cutting the chuck primal into more desirable cuts such as the Delmonico steak and Chuck Eye steak, and then how to cook them to perfection. Both groups of speakers received many questions from the crowd, and it turned out to be a great discussion and learning experience for everyone. To conclude our afternoon, Brent Nollette and the Valentine FFA members came to speak about their new Cow/Calf Project. We finished our afternoon with root beer floats courtesy of Farm Credit Services of America! Throughout the day, attendees were able to view our large number of trade show vendors, outdoor equipment vendors, visit with each representative and see all the great products and services they offer.

We were also able to have multiple pens of livestock to view here at the Cherry County Fairgrounds. We had several pens of bulls from Pharo Cattle Company, and our multiple pens of heifers entered in our 7th Annual Pen of 3 Bred Heifer Contest. Our Pen of Three Bred Heifer Contest was again graciously sponsored by Zoetis. We had a great group of heifers that were difficult to judge because of their outstanding quality and uniformity. Our official judges for this year’s contest were Greg Arendt with Valentine Livestock and Mike Miles with Miles Feeding. During the day, everyone who attended the convention was allowed to head over to the pens, select their “People’s Choice,” and place the other pens of heifers accordingly. The Grand Champion Pen of 3 was Blackford Ranch of Brownlee. They won a Zoetis Vaccine Cooler for the Grand Champion award, valued at $600, and a heifer head wall hanging. Later in the evening, they kindly donated their Zoetis cooler to the Sandhills Cattle Association for the Scholarship Benefit Auction. Reserve Champion was awarded to Dale & Karen Bowlin with Bowlin Cattle Company from Cody. They were awarded a heifer wall hanging and a cow/calf weather vane. The “People’s Choice” Award was given to Craig O’Kief with Walking X Cattle. He received a heifer wall hanging and cow-calf mailbox topper.

We then started a Happy Hour sponsored by Masterhand Milling and a cash bar provided by Corner Pub of Valentine to kick off our evening. While everyone was socializing and networking, we got in some great laughs thanks to our entertainment for the night Brent Reed, the Heavyweight of Clean Comedy. Shortly after Brent’s performance, we announced all of the winners for trade show vendor raffles, Pen of Three Contest, and for the first time, we had some great belt buckles to award our outstanding members of the year.

Our first Volunteer of the Year award was given to Terri Licking. She received this award for her outstanding dedication to making every event informative with well-thought-out questions and graciously allowing us to utilize her photography skills. Terri has gone above and beyond to secure scholarship auction items and always works to ensure that the show goes off without a hitch. We cannot thank Terri enough for her longtime dedication to the Sandhills Cattle Association.

The first official Recruiter of the Year award went to the Valentine Livestock Auction of Valentine. This award is given to the member who refers the most new members. Almost every new face that walked through our door this last year mentioned that they had been to the Valentine Livestock, and the staff there had sent them to our office. Without these referrals from members, we wouldn’t have an Association.

The last member award at the 82nd Annual Convention & Trade Show was given to Steve Moreland of Spearhead Ranch near Merriman for being selected as the Producer of the Year. Steve was a life-long member of the Sandhills Cattle Association and entered his cattle in the Educational, Performance & Carcass Contest every year since it was established with the exception of one year. Steve worked his entire life building a quality herd, and it paid off with class winners many years in the contest. Throughout the years, he was one of the Association’s greatest fans and biggest recruiters. With great sadness, we were unable to bestow this award on him before his passing, but we know that he would have been honored. His family was sure to include the buckle with one of his most valuable possessions, his camera, at his funeral. I know I can say without a doubt that the staff and Board of Directors will sincerely miss Steve and his neverending support.

Our final evening event was our Scholarship Benefit Auction. Each year the Sandhills Cattle Association awards around $7,500 worth of scholarships to various Sandhills Cattle Associations members’ children or grandchildren. This benefit auction provides the Sandhills Cattle Association with funding to keep the scholarships for many years to come. We are thankful to the surrounding businesses and individuals for their generous donations and our talented auctioneer Duane McClain with Nebraska Land Brokers. Overall we had 46 bidders competing for 68 items donated by a total of 54 companies and individuals. With all of this excellent support from the surrounding community, we raised $7,963.00 for our scholarship funds account! We award scholarships to students all over the Sandhills of Nebraska, so don’t be afraid to apply this coming year.

On behalf of all of us at the Sandhills Cattle Association and the Board of Directors: Thank you to all of our many gracious Sponsors, Vendors, Volunteers, and those who came to join us for this great event. Next year’s convention date has not been set yet, but we are looking at our location in Atkinson. Please stay posted, as we will be sure to keep you in the loop!

We are requesting feedback from the community as to whether to keep the Convention in September or move it back to late May/early June. You can place your suggestions with us by calling the office at 402-376-2310 or dropping an email to us at While you’re at it, be sure to submit any feedback that you may have to make next year’s convention an even better experience for everyone.


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