The Hawkeye Beef Extravaganza could easily be the superbowl of beef production know-how. It's a contest that combines applying for a bank loan with value-based marketing, condition scoring and everything in between.
Bob Kimm, coordinator of the contest that started in 1993, readily admits that several areas of the contest would be challenging even for an adult. The contest, however, is targeted at high school seniors. Kimm designed this rather unique contest to prepare students for a future in the beef industry. Then, as an animal science instructor at Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo, IA, he persuaded the school to host the event.
"I grew up judging and showing cattle, but I believe we've got to do more to prepare kids with practical information for the industry," says Kimm.
It's practical knowledge that pays off for participants, too. Over $10,000 in scholarships are awarded annually to winning teams at the Hawkeye Beef Extravaganza.
Getting Started The Hawkeye Beef Extravaganza got its start when Kimm was asked to furnish students to help with an event at Cattle Congress held each year in Waterloo. The event was sponsored by an animal health company and the objective was to show producers how to effectively process calves, he says.
"Being a teacher, I asked if they'd be willing to sponsor a similar event with youth," says Kimm.
>From there, he got additional sponsors and what started as "processing calves" has evolved into a 12 station contest awarding $10,950 in scholarships to winning teams.
At various stations in the contest, student teams of three are quizzed by veterinarians, animal health professionals, loan officers or concerned consumers. The academic stations include a sire evaluation quiz, challenge statement, marketing problem, discussion on consumer perceptions of beef, job interview and applying for a bank loan. The "hands-on" farm lab stations require processing calves, condition scoring, value-based marketing, seedstock merchandising, evaluating keep-cull replacement heifers and calving management decisions.
Kimm believes he's sold the Extravaganza to sponsors on its uniqueness. "It's one of a kind," he says.
Sponsors still see it as a way to reach adults. "We hope students are going home and teaching their parents something," says Evan Vermeer, senior cattle consultant with Cenex/Land O'Lakes.
Vermeer helps each year with the value-based marketing station where students must estimate yield and quality grade, and then calculate a final dollar value on live animals. "That's the real world," he says.
In preparing for the contest, students like Stephanie Torgerson from Austin, MN, feel they learn valuable ideas from the contest that they can then take back to their parents. "Learning about EPDs has been a big help back home," she says.
"It's a contest that is well respected by anyone that must prepare for it," says Kimm.
"Practical application beats book learning any day," says Richard Schaufler, agricultural instructor and coach for the Leroy-Ostrander (MN) FFA. He feels contests like these help students get confidence even about the simple things. "Until you actually apply what you've learned, you don't know it."
Another practicality of the contest is that it isn't all targeted to livestock, Matt Miller from Mabel, MN, points out. "Applying for a job or loan are things we will all have to do someday," he says.
Looking Forward In its four-year history, as many as 13 student teams have competed in the annual Hawkeye Beef Extravaganza. Kimm would like to see that number grow."In 1 998, I'd like to see four to six states represented in the competition," says Kimm. Most past teams have been from Iowa with ties to 4-H or FFA, but Minnesota teams have also competed. Eventually, he'd like the contest to evolve into regional competitions with one national contest.
"One of the keys to this event surviving is getting some exposure and visibility," Kimm says. That's why in 1998 the event will take on the new name of ICA Scholarship Extravaganza. It will be held Dec. 9, 1998, in conjunction with the Iowa Cattlemen's Association Convention in Des Moines.
For more information about the next ICA Scholarship Extravaganza, contact Bob Kimm, Hawkeye Community College, at 319/296-4008 or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).