The young agriculture career-minded and college-bound youth within our communities are such a precious asset to our area and the cattle industry that resides within the Sandhills of Nebraska.
That being said, the Sandhills Cattle Association scholarship awards are such helpful awards that will benefit our youth with the high cost of the education of future agriculture leaders and enable them with the knowledge that they can bring back home and apply to the agriculture business field.
One cannot stress how important it is to our industry and area that each and everyone who remains and returns to the area contributes to its continued and future success. The number of youth that chooses to return home to run the family ranch is low. That is why every means possible should be applied to help encourage our youth to consider and select a path to return to their roots and family ranches or establish a new ranch business. Most of the returning youth know the adversities against them, and they have lived and helped with the business during their young lives and experienced the hard work and both hardship and success that encompasses the ranch life.
I was born and raised as a rancher. I was one of those that knew from a very young age that I wanted to be just like my Dad and Grandpa, a Sandhills Rancher. I want to see this ranch that has survived and been profitable for over 100 years continue to thrive and be successful for generations to come.
I am so thankful for this lifestyle, and one cannot argue how lucky we are to live in an area of wide-open landscapes, clean air, and the natural abundance of water and grassland. I continue to hope that our youth will bless us with their return to the ranch to help keep the cattle industry strong and thriving.
The SCA scholarship fund supports the future of agriculture and the beef industry. The SCA helps support our youth through our scholarship fund and our education. The scholarship fund is made possible by being obtained from the convention scholarship auction and by generous donors. Auction items are charitable donations received from various SCA members and community businesses throughout the year. The scholarship fund will award over $9000 total in scholarships this year. The scholarships are broken down into categories, with $7500 worth of the scholarships coming directly from the Sandhills Cattle Association. These five scholarships are awarded 2 $2000 awards, 1 $1500 award, and 2 $1000 awards.
We additionally help award the Howard Wright scholarship of $500 and the Buzz Kime scholarship of $1000. Newly added this year is the Steve Moreland memorial scholarship. A committee picks SCA scholarship awards with consideration of essays and interviews and documentation of the history of academic success throughout the student's academic career. The families of the memorial scholarships choose the winners of the Howard Wright, Buzz Kime, and Steve Moreland scholarships.
To be eligible for the scholarship, one must be a child or grandchild of an SCA member, and we are glad to announce that there was an increase in the participation of applicants who applied for the SCA scholarship this year. This gives me hope that more youth are considering an agricultural-based education, indicating that they will return home with knowledge learned from their education to work within the agricultural and cattle industry.
I wish the best of luck to all of the scholarship applicants in your pursuit of higher education in these upcoming years.