BILLINGS — The opportunity for kids to get started in the cattle industry is knocking, and loudly. Applications for the NILE Merit Heifer program are now available for the 2021-2022 year, but time is running out to apply.
The NILE Merit Heifer program is a live animal scholarship, meaning the recipients are given a young, live, heifer calf. Shelby Shaw, NILE Livestock Manager/Youth Education Director says the objective is to help youth get a start in the beef cattle business and gain knowledge about the beef industry.
“The NILE Merit Heifer program is 21 years old,” said Shaw. “It began in 2000 and started with five donated heifers and has grown from there. Today, we have between 20 and 25 heifers donated every year and we select and equal amount of youth ages 12 to 16 to participate. Every fall they receive the heifer and work in conjunction with their donor and the NILE. During the program, they and kind of complete monthly reports, do interviews, participate in Zoom calls and other different things within the beef industry to learn about the project and complete the project as a bred heifer.”
She says the application deadline is June 30 and applicants aren’t limited to Montana residents: “It’s not limited to the state of Montana. In fact, this year we have recipients in states such as Washington, Nevada, and Minnesota. And in years past, we've reached all the way down to California and Arizona. So definitely not limited to Montana or Wyoming.”
She says the NILE Merit Heifer program wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of their donors over the years.
For more information about the NILE Merit Heifer program and scholarship application, contact the NILE office in Billings at 406-256-2499 or visit their website at TheNile.org.