As the 2018 Beef State Scholarship Recipient, I was honored to be asked to write an article for this edition of the Nebraska Cattlemen Magazine. It is focused towards beef producers, but I think it can appeal to producers and consumers alike.
Here's a little background about the scholarship I received:
The Beef State Scholarship is awarded by the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation's mission is to advance the future of Nebraska’s Beef industry by investing in research and education programs. One way the foundation does this is by giving students involved in the agriculture and beef industry scholarships. They award numerous $1000 - $1250 scholarships and one $10,000 scholarship to one recipient every year. The Nebraska Cattlemen Beef State Scholarship awards a $10,000 scholarship to an outstanding college junior, senior or graduate-level student. The scholarship will be awarded based on student need, Nebraska beef industry involvement (past achievements and future plans) and academics. I was beyond honored to receive this scholarship in 2018. Here is a picture of me and the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation President, Mr. Scott Knobbe!
Here is the article I wrote for the magazine:
"With the weather becoming nicer and the sun shining more, I think everyone is taking a deep sigh of relief. After the hard winter we’ve had in Nebraska, the sun shine and mud finally drying up is a day some of us thought would never come. My family was not badly affected by the weather, but I wanted to start by saying all the farms and ranches that have been affected have been in my family’s thoughts and prayers. Hopefully this article can give you some insight that the future of the beef industry is bright.
My name is Hannah Esch, a Junior Animal Science Major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the 2018 Nebraska Cattlemen Beef State Scholarship from Unadilla, Nebraska. I was honored to be asked to write an article for this edition of the Nebraska Cattlemen Magazine.
Although my main title is a college student, I also own Oak Barn Beef, a direct to consumer beef company. We ship our family’s high quality beef to families all over the United States. To ensure quality, we DNA Test every calf that goes into our feeding program through Neogen-Igenity. The test can tell us many traits, but we focus on the carcass traits like tenderness, marbling, and average daily gain. All of our beef is dry aged for 21-days at a USDA Inspected Locker. I’m also very passionate about educating about production agriculture. We connect consumers to producers by educating on ranching practices and share measurements that all farmers and ranchers use to ensure the wellbeing of their animals and the safety of the product that lands on consumers’ plate. Since May 2018, Oak Barn Beef has had over 100 customers in 25 states. When I realized that if I wanted to go back to my family’s farm, we would need to diversify our operation, my family and I saw an opportunity. Then, Oak Barn Beef was born.
I wanted to take this time to explain a trend that I have noticed while attending the University of Nebraska. Throughout my career here, I have seen many young men and women do this, as well. Students have started businesses ranging from buying a sprayer to do custom spraying in addition to work on the family farm, to expanding the family operation to include chicken barns, or maybe becoming a seed dealer to sell their family seed, or starting a high-end woodworking business. These people have a lot of things in common like passion, grit, and the will to build something, but what really brings all of these students together is the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program. The Engler Entrepreneurship Program at UNL empowers students to start enterprises. Whether it is helping students diversify their family operation so they can return home after graduation or pushing students to follow their passion, student owned businesses are being started everyday.
My goal, along with many other students, is to make my business full time when I graduate in May 2020. A key organization in making this goal a reality has been Nebraska Cattlemen. My active involvement started with the organization when I became the Nebraska Cattlewomen Collegiate Beef Ambassador in April 2017. This role led me to meet youth all over Nebraska and talk about one of the things I love most- beef! Through advocating, I learned I wanted to continue educating about the beef industry, which is a key driver of Oak Barn Beef. If you know a high school or college student who is interested in advocating for the beef industry, please let them know about this honorable role through the Nebraska Cattlewomen.
I was also extremely humbled to receive the Nebraska Cattlemen Beef State Scholarship in 2018. The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation financially supports over 15 students every year by awarding scholarships. The Beef State Scholarship is a $10,000 scholarship awarded to one student every year. Knowing the past recipients of this scholarship very well, I know what an honor this scholarship means to receive and the role that comes with it to represent the Nebraska Beef Industry. A very grateful “thank you” goes out to the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation and the donors for their financial support of future beef industry leaders in our state.
Overall, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few important aspects of my life- running a beef business, seeing my generation embrace entrepreneurship, and explaining the significant role the Nebraska Cattlemen has played in my life personally. Nebraska Cattlemen, thank you for this amazing support and all of your great work for the Nebraskan Beef Producers."
Nebraska Cattlemen has been a great resource for me, as a student, beef producer, and evolving entrepreneur. If you are a producer, look into your state and national beef associations - they are working hard to protect beef producers and need your support!
We get asked a lot how the whole process of Oak Barn Beef works! How fun it is to dive in and answer that question. If you want to read how our family farm produces premium beef, that is dry aged by a local small town butcher, this blog post is for you! Here's a summary...