Atkinson, NE - Our second day of our 83rd Annual Convention was just as much fun as the first. We started the morning with an optional tour to Cottonwood Feeders near Stuart, NE. This feedlot is where our EP&C Contest Calves have been for the past two years, and it was great for all of our attendants to see the operation firsthand and ask Nate Dvorak questions about his feedlot. Everyone returned at about 11 am, and we started registration and browsing all the great vendors. Our day started at noon with our first speaker of the day, Scott Ruzicka, with an excellent presentation about nutrition and why minerals are so essential in cattle production. Next up, we had NE Department of Ag Assistant Director Cicely Warden share how her team leads the Department's agriculture promotion and development efforts. This responsibility encompasses both domestic programs and incentives for ag producers and companies and developing international markets for Nebraska ag products. Cicely shared some great information about her recent beef promotional trips and also her time in Vietnam. After that, we took a little break before our afternoon session of big speakers by viewing trade show vendor booths, the Replacement Heifer Pen of Three Contest, and entering to win prizes!
Around 2 pm, we had Nebraska Brand Committee Executive director John Widdowson and Technology Coordinator Danna Schwenk speak about cattle brands in the past, how NBC got to where we are today, and what the future holds for the Brand Committee in Nebraska. They did a great job explaining processes and changes in the committee to people in ways that we could understand and also had a great Q & A session after their presentation. Then we had the great honor of having the one and only Amanda Radke take our stage! Amanda's speech was truly inspirational as she talked about how producers are finding innovative ways to find success during difficult times. Radke shared examples of how some ranchers are becoming successful in trying different things and empowering producers to push back against powerful agendas that are happening in our society today. We then took another break and enjoyed ice cream sandwiches sponsored by the Nebraska Cattlemen!
Our annual membership meeting has taken place for 83 years now, and along the way, we started adding speakers, contests, and a trade show. Our membership meeting took place at 5 pm with the approval of the 2021 minutes, the treasurer's report, and the membership numbers report. We went over our various program reports, including Pen of Three Contest, EP&C Contest, Fall Feeder Calf Preview, Sandhills Golf Classic, Scholarship Program, Branding School, Steers for Students, and Lick Tub Challenge with North Central RC&D. Our Pen of Three Grand Champion was Stagemeyer Cattle Company of Page, NE, with their pen of Black Angus heifers, and they received a new Zoetis cooler. Reserve Champion was given to Teagan Butterfield of Stuart, NE, with her Red Gelbvieh pen, and Teagan also won the People's Choice Award! We are so proud of these programs and their success, and we hope to be able to continue them well into the future! After that, we went into the technical part about meetings and voted to approve our Executive Board Nominations with Darian Fuelberth as President, Rick Marlatt as Vice President, Chad Johnston as Treasurer, and Ryan Adamson as Past President. Then we gladly welcomed new board members Katie Jagels, Sarah Ripp, Drew Feller, and Jared Storer.
Lastly, we got to the important part of our meeting, the awards. Several scholarship recipients attended the convention this year to receive their certificates. We had a great scholarship applicant group this year which made choosing these great young men and women very difficult! Our 2022-23 scholarship recipients this year is as follows
Tylan 'Ty' Schlueter received one of the $2,000 Sandhills Cattle Association scholarships.
Elizabeth 'Libby' Wilkins was also selected for a $2,000 Sandhills Cattle Association scholarship.
Jency Starr received the only $1,500 scholarship offered by the Sandhills Cattle Association.
Megan Amos of Stapleton was selected for one of the $1,000 Sandhills Cattle Association scholarships.
Michaela Keller received the other $1,000 scholarship from the Sandhills Cattle Association.
Reece Zutavern received the $1,000 Buzz Kime Memorial Scholarship and the $700 Steve Moreland Memorial Scholarship.
Gage Davis received the other $700 Steve Moreland Memorial Scholarship.
Spencer DeNaeyer received the $500 Howard Wright Memorial Scholarship.
Each year we also give out three yearly awards and custom belt buckles to our most deserving members. These awards are Volunteer of the Year, Producer of the Year, and Recruiter of the Year. This year's Volunteer of the Year went to Craig O'Keif of Woodlake, NE. Craig has served on the Sandhills Cattle Association Board of Directors and as past president, but his service and dedication to the association didn't stop there. Craig has helped the association with various events after his term ended, mainly our Sandhills Golf Classic, Scholarship Program, and Convention. We are so thankful for Craig's lasting dedication and feel that he greatly deserved his belt buckle. Our next award is Recruiter of the Year, which goes to someone who promoted the Sandhills Cattle Association and its programs, and this year this award went to Jason Jagels. Jason and his wife, Katie Jagels, were huge supporters of our new Steers for Students Progam, and we could not be more thankful for them. At the Cattlemen's Cut Bull sale in Brewster, NE, they auctioned off a Henry Goldenboy Rifle in February. They donated the proceeds to the Sandhills Cattle Association for the Steers for Students Program and matched the donation themselves. This generosity was tremendous for us as it gave us even more support from other various businesses and producers. Thanks to Jagels and our other donors, we will be offering four local schools beef this year for their school lunches for absolutely no cost to them! Our last award is the prestigious Producer of the Year. This award is given to a Producer member in good standing who is very supportive and active in the Sandhills Cattle Association. This year we gave our Producer of the Year award to Ken Stephens with KEG Herefords, who never misses and golf tournament or a convention. Ken has been a member of the Sandhills Cattle Association for over 30 years, and he was well deserving of this award! After our meeting was adjourned, we welcomed speaker Rob Sharkey' The Shark Farmer' to the stage and enjoyed our supper thanks to Cast Iron Skillet Bar & Grille of Stuart, NE! Rob Sharkey shared his inspirational story talking about the SharkFarmer Story and how to never give up on your dreams. Rob told us how he came from the hog market crash of the 90s to having the SharkFarmer TV show on RFDTV.
Once Rob Sharkey was finished, we proceeded with our Scholarship Benefit Live Auction with auctioneer Randy Stenka. We had almost 60 items donated by 40 different businesses and individuals, and we raised over $8,000 between our Silent Auction and Live Auction! We are so thankful for everyone that donates and purchases items because it helps us provide funds to the youth of the Sandhills so they can further their education. We finished off the night with the incredible Twin River Band from Merriman, NE, playing for us while some couples danced the night away.
We are so thankful for everyone who participated as a vendor, donated an item for our auction, sponsored, and attended as you made this one of our best conventions to date! As some of you may already know, our Executive Director Elysabeth Kierl has taken another position in South Dakota at the Game, Fish, & Parks Department. Her hard work and dedication to our association and our convention will be greatly missed!