Story and Photos by Melinda Perkins.
This story was originally published in the November issue of the Tennessee Cattle Business Magazine. To receive future issues of the Tennessee Cattle Business magazine, join the Tennessee Cattlemen's Association for only $30/year.
Third-generation cattle producer, Grant Funderburk of Bath Springs, Tennessee, credits the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association (TCA) and Farm Credit Mid-America (FCMA) Youth Beef Heifer Initiative Scholarship for opening the door to his involvement in the registered cattle industry. Throughout his childhood, Grant played an active role in his paternal grandparents’ commercial cattle operation and dabbled in showing commercial and Angus heifers early in his cattle showing career. However, when Grant won the TCA/FCMA Youth Beef Heifer Initiative Scholarship in 2018, he started his journey into the registered cattle industry and took his operation to new heights.
“The heifer scholarship was really my gateway into the cattle industry,” said Grant, as he reflected on winning the TCA/FCMA Youth Beef Heifer Initiative Scholarship. “The heifer scholarship pushed me into the Hereford breed, the cattlemen’s association, and furthered my involvement in 4-H and FFA.”
As a sophomore in high school, Grant used his heifer scholarship to purchase a registered Hereford heifer from Watson Family Farms. Purchasing this Hereford heifer allowed him to jump into the registered cattle industry with both feet. As Grant transitioned from a commercial cattle producer to a registered cattleman, he was able to learn more about the importance of record keeping, genetics, selecting A.I. sires, and marketing registered offspring. However, it was truly the Hereford people, connections, and opportunities, that made Grant fall in love with the Hereford breed.
“Buying a Hereford heifer paved the way for me to be involved in the Tennessee and National Junior Hereford Associations,” said Grant. “These associations have been very welcoming and allowed me to get involved.”
Being involved in the Hereford breed has afforded Grant the opportunity to show his Hereford cattle at many local, state, regional, and national shows. He has shown at the Tennessee Junior Beef Expo, Tennessee State Hereford Show, Southeastern Regional Hereford Show, Junior National Hereford Expo, and North American International Livestock Expo. In addition to his show ring involvement within the Hereford breed, Grant also served as the 2020 Tennessee Junior Hereford Association secretary.
In addition to becoming active in the Hereford breed, Grant also became active in the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association and furthered his involvement in 4-H and FFA livestock-related programs. Grant served as a 2020 Tennessee Cattlemen’s Youth Association Ambassador and was actively involved in the Tennessee’s Top Tier program. Additionally, Grant served in multiple leadership roles within his 4-H club and FFA chapter.
Currently, Grant is a junior at the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM) pursuing a degree in Animal Science. Grant serves as the treasurer for both the collegiate Farm Bureau and collegiate FFA and is also actively involved in the Student Cattlemen’s Association at UTM. Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in 2024, Grant plans to attend veterinary medicine school and emphasize on livestock reproduction. Grant attributes his love for the cattle industry to helping him choose this career path.
“When I got to college, I knew I wanted to work with animals, but I didn’t know what I could do with that and make money,” said Grant. “Then, it hit me, I could follow my passion for the cattle industry, pursue a degree in Animal Science, go to Vet School, and then work to make the next generation of the cattle industry better.”
In all, the TCA/FCMA Youth Beef Heifer Initiative Scholarship gave Grant the opportunity to purchase a heifer he normally wouldn’t have been able to purchase. The scholarship opened the door for him to get immersed in the registered Hereford cattle industry. It allowed him to find his love for cattle reproduction and prompted his career choice.
“It not only provided a better opportunity for me with the purchase of my heifer,” said Grant. “But, it opened my eyes to opportunities in the cattle industry.”
HOW YOU CAN WIN
For the 12th year, the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association and Farm Credit Mid-America are offering the Youth Beef Heifer Scholarships. A total of $9,000 will be awarded in scholarships. Six deserving youth will be awarded either $2,000 (1st place) or $1,000 (2nd place) to purchase a heifer of their choice.
“Since 2011, the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association and Farm Credit Mid-America have awarded nearly $90,000 in heifer scholarships and helped purchase over 60 heifers,” said Charles Hord, executive vice president of TCA. “These quality heifers have allowed Tennessee youth to excel in the show ring and have served as the foundation for many young cattle producer’s herds across the state.”
There are three categories of winners: Junior (4th and 5th grades), Junior High (6th, 7th, and 8th grades), and Senior High (9th, 10th, and 11th grades). Each of those categories will have a first and second-place award. Applications for this scholarship are due by December 1, 2022, and can be found in this issue of the Tennessee Cattle Business. Applications can also be found on TCA’s website: www.tncattle.org/scholarships. Contact Director of Youth Programs & Outreach, Melinda Perkins, if you have any questions: email@example.com or (615) 896-2333.