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Top Story, March 2017


A few firsts at Md. cattle conference

By CARYL VELISEK
AFP Correspondent

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — The 2017 Maryland Cattle Industry Convention and Hay and Pasture Conference  was held this year March 2-4 at the Hager Hall Convention Center in Hagerstown, Md., with 325 people attending.
The session also included the Annual Youth Livestock Skillathon and this year’s Skillathon boasted a record number of participants.
This year was the 30th time the Maryland Cattlemen’s Association held their meeting in Hagerstown, and to show the city’s appreciation, Mayor Robert Bruchey presented a commemorative plaque to the association.
Barao, along with his wife, Teresa, and daughter, Hailey, were surprised to accept a 30-Year Top Hand Award.
Upon acceptance of the award, Barao said, “I can honestly say that it has been both an honor and a true labor of love to lead the Maryland Cattlemen’s Association these 30 years.”
There were several firsts at the 30th Anniversary Cattle Industry Convention, including the awarding of the first-ever Ned Sayre LEAD Md. Scholarship to Alan Eck of Queen Anne’s County. Ned’s dad, Lawrason Sayre of Church Hill, Md., was on hand to present the scholarship to Eck, who farms in Henderson, Md. 
Eck, 24, raises 60 head of beef cattle, 600 market hogs, a large number of broiler chickens and operates a straw and hay business which he started while still in high school. He is a graduate of Queen Anne’s County High School and received an associate’s degree in production agriculture at Delaware State University, where he continues to take animal science classes.
Eck was instrumental in reviving the Young Farmers chapter in Queen Anne’s County and currently serves as its chairman. Along with numerous FFA awards, he is also an Eagle Scout who will be a part of the 10th LEAD Maryland class. The LEAD Md. program plays a pivotal role in developing and training the next generation as Ag Leaders. 
Two years ago, in partnership with the LEAD Maryland Foundation, MCA agreed to establish, promote and administer the Ned Sayre Scholarship Fund for the express purpose of helping to defray the cost of future LEAD class participation for individuals actively engaged in the cattle industry in Maryland. In those two short years, the scholarship fund has grown rapidly because of the contributions from many individuals across Maryland who wanted to honor Ned’s memory by financially supporting the LEAD Maryland program. Ned was a fellow in the first LEAD Maryland class in 1999.
This year, for the first time, the Maryland Cattlemen’s Association hosted the Northeast Pasture Consortium as a part of its convention, which added a great deal of teaching and interaction to the three-day conference, according to Dr. Scott Barao, the Executive Director and Secretary of the Maryland Cattlemen’s Association.
A major event at the Maryland Cattle Industry Convention since 2004 is the Maryland Livestock Skillathon. At that first Skillathon, 68 youth from eight counties participated: in 2016 participation had grown to 140 youth from 14 counties; and this year, the 13th Skillathon boasted 184 youth from 14 counties.
Senior winner of the 2017 Youth Skillathon was Miranda Iager of Howard County, Md. with a 471.5 score; Junior winner was Riley Jo Herbert of Charles County with a score of 514; and Intermediate winner was Lizzy Miller of Montgomery County with a score of 498.
In recognition of their outstanding leadership and the growth of the Skillathon program, the 2017 Top Hand Award was presented to Chris Anderson, Bonnie Boyden and Karen Holloway.
The joining of The Northeast Pasture Consortium with the convention, another first, and provided participants with much additional information also.
Doug Peterson, Iowa and Missouri Regional Soil Health Specialist, spoke about the impact of Cattle on Soil Health and if it is degrading or beneficial. He noted the “disconnect” between food production and the consumer and how production methods used by farmers today improve soil and water, and how farmers must connect with consumers in terms they understand, to show how agriculture improves their lives and use of the land.
“No one tells your story better than you do,” he told the audience.