Black Hills Stock Show feature: Tessa Gale recieves Cattlemen’s Family Legacy first heifer scholarship
One Cody, NE-youth will get a good start in the cattle business after being named the recipient of a registered Angus heifer calf through a new scholarship program.
Tessa Gale, 14, competed against 14 applicants for the Cattlemen’s Family Legacy Heifer Scholarship, sponsored in partnership by the Western Junior Livestock Show and the Central States Fair Foundation. Gale will receive the heifer, donated by Ingalls Centennial Angus of Faith, SD, during the Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS).
According to Andrea Hildebrandt, livestock coordinator for the BHSS, the Cattlemen’s Family Legacy Heifer Scholarship program was developed to get youth more involved in agriculture. “We need to get our core people started young,” she explains. “Our next generation is our young people. The better start they get, the more likely they are to stay in the agriculture industry.”
To apply for the scholarship, youth have to be between the ages of eight and 18 years-old, and be Western Junior eligible. Each contestant has to fill out an application, write a 500-word essay on why they think they deserve the heifer, and obtain a letter of recommendation from someone outside their family. They also need to have the application signed by their extension educator, and show they have facilities to keep the heifer.
The applications are reviewed during the Central States Fair, and each applicant is interviewed for about 15 minutes by the scholarship committee. The winner is announced after the interview process.
For Gale, it was a surprise to win against so many applicants. “They read the names of everyone who applied before they announced the winner,” she says. “After hearing them read off so many names, I was really surprised when they announced I had won.
“I thought the interview process was fairly easy. I have been interviewed before, so I was comfortable talking to them,” she continues. “In my essay, I wrote about how I got started in 4-H, why I am involved in it, and how much I enjoy it. I also wrote about how I would take responsibility for the heifer, if I was to win. I love to write, so the essay was the easy part,” she says.
Gale says although she is only 14, she has a lot of experience showing cattle and other animals. “We usually go to the Western Junior and try to do a new event we haven’t tried before,” she explains. “We have shown cattle there. I have shown cattle since I started in 4-H in Cherry County.”
In addition to market beef, Gale says she has also shown heifers and feeder steers. She has also shown goats and sheep as part of her 4-H project. “My family raises registered Angus cattle,” she continues. “Sometimes, we get to help show bulls at the Cattlemen’s Classic in Kearney.”
Gale is the daughter of Molly and Cody Gale. She has an older brother, Jake, and two younger brothers, Clay and Cooper, who all enjoy helping with the cattle.
“I am very excited about winning the heifer,” Gale says. “I have a few cows already, so she will be a nice addition.”
After Gale brings the heifer home, she hopes to finish breaking her to lead, before preparing her for shows throughout the summer. “I have at least five shows lined up I plan to take her to. Then, in the fall, I will show her as a bred heifer at the Western Junior,” she says.
Hugh Ingalls, who donated Gale’s heifer, says he was pleased to be the first one to donate a heifer for the scholarship program. Hugh and Eleanor are long-time supporters of the BHSS, and were exhibitors at the show at one time.
“We were given the opportunity to donate a heifer for this program shortly after the program was put together, and we took them up on it,” Ingalls says. “I didn’t do it for any personal gain. I just wanted to see the program get off the ground. There is also a personal satisfaction in it for me to be able to help a youth get started with a cowherd.
“I hope the heifer will make a nice brood cow down the road,” Ingalls continues. “Hopefully, the heifer will help (Gale) advance in the formation of her own cattle herd. I think this is a good start for her, and will help her along.”
Hildebrandt was excited the program had 15 applicants in its first year. “Basically, this program is designed to get a youth started in the cattle industry, where they may not have a chance to, otherwise,” she says. “After she breeds the heifer and shows her at the Western Junior, the heifer and the calf she produces are Gale’s. Of course, we hope the cow and calf are good enough, that she might want to show them at the Black Hills Stock Show, Central States Fair, and Western Junior Livestock Shows.”
Hildebrandt says she is hopeful one of the consignors at the Black Hills Stock Show will donate a heifer for the next recipient. “We hope our consignors will be interested in and supportive of this youth program, and will help us to keep it going,” she says.
During the BHSS, the heifer will be showcased prior to each of the breed shows and sales, to help promote the Cattlemen’s Family Legacy Heifer Scholarship program.
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The Montana Angus Tour was September 21-23, 2021 in the northern part of the state.