The Certified Angus Beef brand awarded $21,000 to seven university students through its Colvin Scholarship Fund, in recognition of their leadership and achievement at the community and beef industry levels.
Developed in 1999 upon the retirement of Louis M. "Mick" Colvin, the Fund evokes the CAB co-founder and 21-year CEO's role in making dreams a reality and inspiring others to be their best.
2013 Undergraduate Colvin Scholarship Awards:
$5,000 – Paige Wallace, Stotts City, Mo. – Oklahoma State University
$4,000 – Mollie Lastovica, Fredericksburg, Texas – Texas A&M University
$3,000 – Malorie Bankhead, Livermore, Calif. – California Polytechnic State University
$2,000 – Kassandra Pfeiffer, Orlando, Okla. – Oklahoma State University
$1,000 – Reagan Kays, Weir, Kan. – Kansas State University
2013 Graduate Colvin Scholarship Awards:
$5,000 – Bryan Bernhard, Stillwater, Okla. – Oklahoma State University
$1,000 –Dustin Mohrhauser, Hartford, S.D. – South Dakota State University (discretionary award)
The undergraduates had to demonstrate commitment through the pursuit of a meat science, food science, animal science, marketing, business, communications or a related degree, and through activities and curriculum. They were also asked to name the biggest challenges facing the beef industry in the next 10 years, and what can be done to meet them.
Paige Wallace, top award winner, drew upon her family's cow-calf operation in southwest Missouri in naming drought, public perception of the beef industry and land availability as the obstacles. She said science holds the key to overcoming many of those.
The Oklahoma State University junior wrote, "As technology increases and farmers continue to strive for success, I am confident in beef production sustainability."
Wallace, an agricultural communications major, holds broadcasting positions with "The Angus Report" and "Oklahoma Horizon." She said her passion for that field will lead her to explore such career opportunities while raising the show cattle that helped shape her upbringing.
Texas A&M senior and $4,000 Colvin Scholarship winner Mollie Lastovica cited an "information gap" that can only be filled with education. Even as marketers try to build demand with niche labels, consumers may not understand differences between "organic," "natural" or "grass-fed" without industry efforts. The double major in agricultural journalism and political science already does her part with professional roles for the Texas Brangus Association, the International Red Brangus Breeders Association and her family's Lastovica Angus Farm.
Malorie Bankhead sees a connection between faltering consumer trust and beef demand at a 10-year low, best countered by reaching out to consumers on a personal level. The California Polytechnic State University senior and $3,000 award winner said the key is to "continue telling our beef story." She honed those skills through the National Beef Ambassador program and a CAB internship.
OSU junior Kassandra Pfeiffer said education can help consumers see the connection between input costs and food prices, and that can sustain beef prices at their premium to other proteins: "A great way to promote our products would be to show videos in grocery stores of farms, to give the public an idea of where their food comes from." The animal science major and former state junior Angus association president has livestock judging team experience and plans to put her $2,000 Colvin award toward an advanced degree.
Reagan Kays, a junior at Kansas State University and $1,000 Colvin award winner, said population growth will increase beef demand so the challenge is just keeping up with it sustainably. Experiences in Brazil and the Czech Republic led him to a passion for helping close the productivity gap by sharing "knowledge, innovation and technologies." Kays, who wants to try that through the Peace Corps in South America, co-owns a 55-head purebred Angus herd with his brother, and currently serves as a legislative assistant in KSU's Office of the President.
The Colvin Scholarship Fund began its graduate awards in 2012, opening doors to anyone in a recognized, full-time masters or doctorate program related to high-quality beef production.
Bryan Bernhard, second-year PhD student at OSU who won the $5,000 award, conducted the Beef Checkoff-supported study entitled, "Skeletal muscle differentially influences marbling development through IGF-I and myostatin pathways in growing versus finishing beef cattle." Results may be applied to strategies that enhance marbling development, including implant programs.
"The outcome of this research project will improve our understanding of the interaction between muscle growth and marbling development in cattle during growing and finishing phases," Bernhard said, noting that leads to increased beef quality and consumer demand. He plans to join a university faculty to work on cattle feeding efficiency, product quality and safety while educating future animal scientists.
The Colvin Fund selection committee awarded a $1,000 discretionary scholarship for exceptional leadership and outstanding scholastic achievement to Dustin Mohrhauser, a third-year PhD student at South Dakota State University who grew up on an Angus cow-calf operation.
He directs Midwest student membership for the American Meat Science Association and holds an International Livestock Congress Travel Fellowship. Mohrhauser's primary research explores the impact of maternal nutrition on calf performance and grade, and he also works on the leptin genotype connection to carcass quality and ways to reduce incidence of dark cutting beef.
As the top scholarship recipients, Wallace and Bernhard won trips to the 2013 CAB Annual Conference, Sept. 18-20 in Palm Desert, Calif. There they will interact with leaders throughout the production, packing, retail and foodservice industries.