Scholarship progam powered by beef

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In an era when cattle companies are folding up shop in Routt County, it's refreshing to hear that a new cattle company has been formed.

The 4-H Bar Cattle Company was established in 2004 as a means to grow the Routt County 4-H Scholarship Endowment Fund as well as educate the general public about the beef industry. Ten heifers were donated by 10 local ranchers to establish the 4-H Bar Cattle Company, and the ranchers maintain the in-kind heifer within their own herds, calve out the heifer and then brand the calf with the 4-H Bar Brand.

After weaning, the calf crop is sold and net proceeds are deposited into the Routt County 4-H Scholarship Endowment Fund. As an additional fundraiser, local businesses and community members sponsor a heifer, thus providing an opportunity to learn about and be actively involved with the beef industry while ascertaining certain tax breaks for the cost of the sponsorship. In addition, people can indirectly support the scholarship program by purchasing 4-H Bar beef.

For the past two years, Greener Pastures Ranch has purchased the entire 4-H Bar calf crop. This local cattle company controls its product from calf selection to the beef package to the consumer.

4-H Bar is a cattle company in the truest sense because although it is important to provide food to the consumer, the primary goal is to profit. After all, beef production is a business. The in-kind ranchers are dedicated, experienced and knowledgeable caregivers for their herd. However, there is always the opportunity for problems to arise.

Each fall, cow/calf producers check their cows and heifers to ensure the animal is impregnated and will produce a calf the following spring. If the female is not pregnant or due to deliver within the window set by the producer, she is declared open and becomes a cull cow. Typically, cull cows are shipped to market, and the sale proceeds are used to replace her. It is not unusual for cattle producers to have only 90 percent of the cows breed back after her first calf, and the 4-H Bar herd is no different. Last fall, the cattle company had one open cow, so that cow was sold and proceeds were deposited into the endowment fund. Fortunately, a local rancher donated a replacement cow, so the 4-H Bar Cattle Company continues to have a 10-cow herd.

The 4-H Bar Cattle Company is only one way the Routt County Scholarship Foundation continues to grow. A variety of fundraisers, generous community donations as well as endowment of various scholarships from individuals ensure that the fund continues. The fund is a registered 501(c)3 organization with a duel mission - to provide substantial scholarships for higher education (both to high school seniors and continuing students) for former 4-H participants of Routt County, and to grow the foundation endowment to $1,000,000 to perpetually provide for those scholarships.

During the past 14 years, the foundation has awarded 118 scholarships to 73 students for a total of $145,100. The endowment fund has grown to $300,000 and is actively managed by a volunteer board of local directors. The board consists of a wide variety of community members with a strong mixture of financial, business, agricultural, educational and leadership experience.

The Routt County 4-H Scholarship Foundation welcomes your questions, comments and donations. For more information, call Jay Whaley at the Routt County Extension Office at 879-0825.

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