CSU students awarded by beef industry’s National Cattlemen’s Foundation

Charlotte Lang

The National Cattlemen’s Foundation has awarded two Colorado State University students with $1,500 scholarships.

Olivia Willrett and Bailey Morrell were two out of the 10 winners in the scholarship’s nationwide search for students pursuing careers in the beef industry.

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For once, I would like to see agriculture represented by a voice that truly understands and cares for the industry, a voice like my own.”

Bailey Morrell, CSU agriculture and political science student

Sponsored by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group, the CME Group Beef Industry Scholarship awards 10 scholarships of $1,500 each year.

“Fields of study may include education, communications, production, research or other areas related to the beef industry,” said Barb Wilkinson, senior executive director of the foundation. “The purpose of this program is to identify and encourage talented and thoughtful students who will emerge as industry leaders,”

Willrett, a CSU student majoring in animal science and agricultural business, was the overall winner of the scholarship with her essay “Tracing Beef from Farm to Fork” about the traceability aspect of beef.

In the essay, Willrett addressed a problem in the industry and proposed her solution.

“Consumers are growing a demand to have access to more information about where their food is coming from and the beef industry is one that can struggle with that just because of the difficulty of providing that information,” Willrett said. “I discussed that in my essay and proposed a solution called blockchain. “

Blockchain, Willrett’s proposed solution, would focus on electronic identification of cattle as they are transported.

“A more recent technology is an electronic identification tag,” Willrett said. “They’re just a little button that goes in the ear and there’s a wand that a producer can scan. Once they scan it, it comes up on a computer system and you can enter any information about treatments, weights, vaccination dates, anything they could possibly want to put in there.”

The E-ID tag would connect to an online ledger system that would follow the animal from birth to harvest. Everyone who owned the animal could access the ledger and the information could then be used by packers to put in the store.

In addition to the scholarship money, Willrett also won the opportunity to attend the Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Louisianna, where she was recognized as a winner at the Best of Beef Awards Breakfast.

Willrett’s passion for the industry comes from a cattle-feeding background and she hopes to become more integrated with the beef industry and production agriculture.

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Morrell, a student studying agricultural education and political science, was also among the list of winners with her essay titled “Be the Change” about the agricultural challenges with lack of water and land availability.

“My essay focused on a wealth of groundwater-related issues and the spread of urbanization, all while offering solutions that will promote the future of agriculture and keep our world fed and clothed,” Morrell said. “This essay topic allowed me to express my opinions and solutions for the agriculture industry, and as a young agriculturalist who wants to be part of the change and future of the agriculture industry, this topic really spoke to me.”

Morrell was raised on a registered Hereford and commercial cattle ranch and was competing nationally at the age of seven.

“As a third generation Hereford breeder on both sides of my family, I knew that the beef industry was where I belonged,” Morrell said. “I plan to use my double majors as a foundation for law school to represent the future of agriculture land and water use.”

Morrell hopes to remain involved in the industry even after graduation as an agricultural lawyer. Her ultimate goal is to help the public understand agriculture and to give agriculturalists a voice.

“My entire life, I have witnessed people in authority make decisions that affect the livelihood of farmers and ranchers in the United States and around the world,” Morrell said. “For once, I would like to see agriculture represented by a voice that truly understands and cares for the industry, a voice like my own.”

Charlotte Lang can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @chartrickwrites.