When BEEF magazine and Elanco Animal Health partnered up to present the first National Stocker Award competition four years ago, the primary hope was to highlight the importance of the stocker industry, recognize leading stocker operators, and give stocker producers an opportunity to learn from their peers. Turns out, the process is also helping participants learn more about their own operations.

“I encourage stocker operators to participate in this contest. The application process really makes you sit down and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your business in a new light. We’re privileged to have won and we know there are a lot of other top operations out there who can submit applications reflective of their outstanding efforts,” says John Paul Pendergrass of Pendergrass Cattle Company, Inc. at Charleston, AR. He and his dad, John Frank, were named the National Stocker Award winner in 2008.

This year’s contest, nominations for which opened Feb. 1 and will close May 1, offers the same opportunity, though perhaps more simply. Contest organizers explain the application has been streamlined, and only finalists will be asked to submit profit metrics for up to five groups of calves.

The winner receives $5,000 cash and an expense-paid trip to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Annual Meeting in San Antonio next year, courtesy of Elanco Animal Health. The winner also receives an expense-paid trip to the Nov. 10-11 BEEF Quality Summit in St. Joseph, MO, courtesy of BEEF magazine. Two runner-ups will each receive $1,000 cash from Elanco.

So, sharpen your pencils and plan to participate. Application forms and a sample application are available online at www.nationalstockeraward.com. Remember, the nomination deadline is May 1.