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Beef industry leaders honored at NCBA national convention

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Beef industry leaders were recognized through a series of scholarship and award programs during CattleCon24, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) annual convention, held Jan. 31-Feb. 2 in Orlando, Fla. 

Over the course of the three-event, 30-plus individuals and operations received honors through the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP), Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Program, Masters of Beef Advocacy Program, W.D. Farr Scholarship Program, CME Group Scholarship Program and the Trailblazers Program. 

ESAP awards

Each year, ESAP recognizes operations across the U.S. for their outstanding stewardship and conservation practices, and the award is sponsored by companies and federal agencies who share the cattle industry’s commitment to caring for the environment and protecting natural resources. 

According to a Feb. 2 news release, published by NCBA, these sponsors include the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Corteva Agriscience and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Six regional winners were honored at CattleCon24 and include Tuck Farms of Moneta, Va. from Region One; JB Ranch of Immokalee, Fla. from Region Two; G Bar C Ranch of Rosston, Texas from Region Four; Tower Rock Ranch, LLC of Mansfield, Wash. from Region Five; Hart Ranch of Montague, Calif. from Region Six and Bartholomay Kattle Kompany of Sheldon, N.D. from Region Seven.

These six operations will have the chance to compete for the National ESAP Award, which will be presented during NCBA’s Legislative Conference, held April 17-19 in Washington, D.C.

“Cattle producers from coast to coast are committed to preserving natural resources for future generations,” says NCBA President Todd Wilkinson in a Feb. 1 press release. “It is an honor to recognize these regional winners who utilize innovative practices and epitomize environmental stewardship.”  

BQA awards

The National BQA Awards, funded in part by the Beef Checkoff program and sponsored by Cargill, annually recognize outstanding cattle producers, marketers and/or educators who demonstrate high-quality animal care and handling principles in their day-to-day operations.  

The award is presented to five individuals across different sectors of the beef industry, and preference is also given to those who have a strong desire to continually improve their operations through BQA practices.

The 2024 BQA Award winner in the cow/calf division is VanWinkle Ranch of Colorado, and the winner of the feedyard division is Adams Land and Cattle of Nebraska. The BQA Dairy FARM Award was presented to Dotterer Dairy of Pennsylvania.

Additionally, Nebraska organization Power Genetics was the recipient of the BQA Marketer Award, and Dr. John Wenzel of New Mexico received the BQA Educator Award.

Masters of Beef Advocacy Program awards

Through the Beef Checkoff-funded Masters of Beef Advocacy Program, NCBA also presented the Masters of Beef Advocacy Program Advocate of the Year Award during the three-day convention. 

According to NCBA, this award is given to an outstanding beef advocate who has found success in engaging consumers and strives to learn more about the beef industry and raising cattle. 

This year, the award was presented to Allison Fender of Santa Ysabel, Calif. for “the positive example she sets for other beef advocates by sharing her journey in ways that connect with people outside of her immediate beef community.” 

NCBA scholarship winners

A dozen students hailing from universities across the U.S. were also recognized during the convention. 

Megan Eckhardt of New Braunfels, Texas and Jaime Luke of Stanberry, Mo. were each awarded a $15,000 W.D. Farr Scholarship by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF). 

According to NCBA, the W.D. Farr Scholarship was established by NCF in 2007 and recognizes graduate students pursuing a career in the beef industry. 

“Eckhardt and Luke were selected from 51 applicants based on their academic achievements, leadership and commitment of the advancement of the beef industry,” notes NCBA.

NCF also awarded 10 students $1,500 scholarships through the CME Group Beef Industry Scholarship Program, which recognizes talented and thoughtful emerging industry leaders.  

The 2024 CME Group Beef Industry Scholarship winners include Grace Anderson of California Polytechnic University, Addie Brown of  West Texas A&M University, Bryce Hoeltzel of Allen Community College, Harper Kirsch and Delaney Nichols of Iowa State University, Alaina Link of University of Missouri, Collin Ochsner of Texas Tech University, Ava Perrier and Weston Schrader of Kansas State University and Megan Sanders of South Dakota State University.

The Trailblazers Program

Lastly, NCBA recognized industry advocates involved in the Beef Checkoff-funded Trailblazers Program, which was established in 2021 to identify, train, equip and empower the next generation of advocates in the beef business. 

“Over the course of the year-long program, 10 elite advocates develop the necessary tools to facilitate quality conversations and help safeguard the work of producers, ranchers and cattle farmers across the U.S.,” reads the NCBA press release. 

Those honored through the program include Tucker Brown and Ally Spears of Texas, Colton Coffee and Rocky Forseth of Montana, Sam Cossio of Washington, Allison Fender of California, Macey Hurst of Missouri, Joe Lowe of Kentucky, Erin Perkins of New York and Paige Schmidt of Kansas. 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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