NAMPA, Idaho — Local ranchers, farmers and businesses helped raise $22,588 May 30 in an event designed to teach youths about agriculture by giving them hands-on experience raising a heifer.
The money will be used to give 22 to 24 Treasure Valley FFA and 4-H members $1,000 certificates they can use to purchase a purebred beef or dairy heifer.
The money raised during a dinner and auction will be used to support an annual calf scramble program that is part of the Snake River Stampede, which is held in Nampa in July and is one of the nation’s major professional rodeos.
On two separate occasions during the rodeo, 10 calves are released into the arena and about 20 FFA and 4-H students ranging in age from 14 to 16 try to catch them.
The first 10 who catch, halter and lead a calf across the line are declared winners. Each receives a $1,000 certificate to purchase a heifer that will be part of their 4-H or FFA program.
Event organizers also give out two to four sportsmanship awards.
“This is a great opportunity to raise awareness of agriculture in our valley as well as to give these young people an opportunity to participate in raising and working with a heifer,” said calf scramble chairman David Temple. “It gives them some great work experience and helps them start working into their own operation.”
The money for the event is raised by farmers, ranchers and local businesses that bid on items donated for the auction. Several local businesses agree to match the amount raised up to a combined $10,000.
The award winners get to keep the animal after raising it for a year. Some sell it and use the proceeds to help fund their college education, while others keep the animal and use it to start their own herd.
Six past winners who have started herds spoke briefly before the auction about how the heifer helped them get started.
“She kind of started me into the cattle industry,” said Hailey Palmer, who won an award in 2010.
“She’s one of the best cows in my herd,” said Nathan Haylett, who won in 2012.
The calf scramble is an investment in the youth and the future of the agricultural industry in the Treasure Valley, said Rodney Moore, who started it in 1999 when he was president of the Stampede.
Moore said the event has enabled local youths to buy about $250,000 worth of heifers since it began.
“We want to keep the tradition of agriculture in the Treasure Valley going and this is one way to do that,” he said. “We’re trying to protect the heritage of the agricultural community in the Treasure Valley through these young people.”