Updated: Aug 16, 2022
Martin Farms of Lyles, Tennessee has issued a call for entries for the Kenneth Ambrose Memorial Heifer Scholarship, an ongoing program founded by Neil and Christopher Martin to help youth kick start or add to a fledgling beef project. The father-son duo founded the program in 2006 as the Beef Heifer Program Starter Kit, enlisting additional donors in 2012 when the program was renamed after their late friend and mentor, Kenneth Ambrose. Ambrose was a former University of Tennessee agricultural extension agent and a great enthusiast for the 4-H youth livestock program.
“Kenneth was directly responsible for a lot of kids’ involvement in 4-H, and he fueled their accomplishments by coaching them toward success,” says Christopher Martin. “Our goal is to recognize and remember Kenneth’s spirit and enthusiasm toward youth and agriculture and to encourage that same type of involvement and success.”
Since 2006, a total of $82,853 has been awarded in scholarships and vouchers with more than fifty youth receiving full or partial scholarships toward the purchase of a registered heifer. In addition, several more youth have been recognized as finalists, receiving sponsored vouchers toward the purchase of cattle. A total of seventy-two youth applicants have benefited from the program which requires youth to submit a project to qualify and then face a panel interview to discuss their interest in beef cattle production.
Beginning in 2012, additional heifers have been donated by Slate Farms & Cattle Co. of Vanleer; Water’s Edge Farm of Franklin; and Williams Brothers Simmental of Milan, MO. All were guest consignors to Martin’s annual Open House at the Farm production sale which occurs annually and provides an event structure where the scholarships have been awarded.
The Martin’s annual sale, Open House at the Farm, has evolved into a collaborative event among partners in an alliance formed in 2020. Tennessee Seedstock Connection is made up of Martin Farms, Running Springs Cattle Co. in Nolensville, and Water’s Edge Farm of Franklin. Alliance members will rotate the duties of hosting the annual Seedstock Connection Sale each September. The event will continue to include scholarship activities which have been supported by the Martins’ alliance partners for several years.
Hadley and Camden Williams, owners of Williams Bros. Simmental, received scholarships in 2012 and 2013, respectively, and joined the Martins as a guest consignors and scholarship donors in 2017. They continue as a guest consignor in The Seedstock Connection Sale, this year marking the sixth consecutive year Williams Brothers has contributed a $1,500 scholarship to the program.
Scholarship donors for 2022 include Martin Farms, Water’s Edge Farm, and Williams Brothers Simmental. An anonymous donor who initiated a “Wild Card” scholarship in 2020 has also renewed a commitment to support a fourth scholarship in 2022 for a total of $6,000 to be awarded to four heifer scholarship recipients.
“Each year, we have several deserving candidates that don’t receive a full scholarship,” so we try to raise enough money to supplement whatever they might have toward purchasing a heifer of their own,” says Chris Martin, one of the program’s founders. “We divide the money equally between all the alternates who purchase an animal at our sale, and they receive a voucher for that amount,” he explained.
In 2020, Matt and Terri VanSlyke of Running Springs Cattle Co. donated a registered SimAngus heifer that was auctioned off to support the voucher program. Funds raised toward the voucher program supported two scholarship “alternates” that year who used those monies to purchase cattle in the sale. The VanSlyke family has also renewed their commitment for 2022, donating two units of semen on a popular, deceased Simmental bull, TJ Teardrop. The same donation last year sold for $300 per unit.
Scholarship finalists will be chosen based on a written application and a special project chosen by the applicant and related to the production or promotion of beef cattle. This year, all finalists will be invited to Running Springs Cattle Company in Nolensville for the panel interviews on Friday, September 23. Winners are chosen based on composite scores from the application, project, and interview sections of the contest.
Since the program began in 2006, Farm Credit Mid-America has been a committed partner, donating annually in support of their own youth initiatives. After several years of working closely with the Martins evaluating the candidates and scoring their applications, Farm Credit Mid-America voluntarily doubled its support for 2020, recognizing the impact this program can have on youth who get involved. Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association has supported the effort by providing valuable promotion as the exclusive media sponsor.
Anyone interested in applying can download an application directly from the Martin Farms website, contact Chris Martin at MartinFarmsBeef@gmail.com, or by phone at 931-580-6821. Information is also available on the Tennessee Cattlemen's Association website. Entries must be postmarked by Sept. 10.
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