By Scott Bidroski
The Steers for Students program, which was created by the Sandhills Cattle Association, is having an immediate impact to Sheridan County students in its first year.
Thanks to the generous donation from Greg and Jolee Nielsen, who own and operate the Nielsen Ranch just east of Gordon, the Gordon-Rushville School District will not only be receiving the processed meat from this donation but will also receive a very unique educational opportunity in the process.
On June 29, the Gordon-Rushville Future Farmers of America (FFA) members will travel to Husker Meats in Ainsworth, Neb. to learn more about the entire process.
While visiting Husker Meats, students will evaluate and grade carcasses of locally grown beef and observe how a packing plant operates.
Following the hands on learning and instruction, the final benefit from the program will come to GRPS; delicious Sandhills beef for the upcoming school year’s lunches.
GRPS Superintendent Lori Liggett is excited about this program and what it will do for Mustang students.
“It is my understanding that participation in the program comes with an educational opportunity for our students to learn about carcass, and evaluation while experiencing how a packing plant operates, as well as talking to leading beef industry professionals about the beef production cycle,” said Ms. Liggett.
“This will be a great experience for our FFA members and agricultural science students,” she added.
The learning opportunity for the GRPS students is thanks in large part to Greg and Jolee Nielsen and their family.
The Nielsen’s donated the steer to the program and are excited for what opportunities this will provide to the local students.
“This new program, “Steers for Students,” is a huge opportunity for an educational benefit for students,” said Greg Nielsen.
Nielsen and family have been ranching and farming in Sheridan County since 1884.
Greg Nielsen’s great-grandfather and grandfather came from Denmark to homestead and the tradition continues for the Nielsen family.
Greg and his wife Jolee, have 3 children, 16 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandson.
His son Gabe, along with his wife Jessica and their three children, still live in Gordon and work on the place.
The impact that agriculture has had on the Nielsen family and Greg is something he hopes they can pass on to the next generation through programs like Steers for Students.
“My hope by participating in this program is for students of all ages from 4-H youth, high school, college, and producers to gain more fully what a valuable resource cattle are by taking the grass and turning it into a delicious form of protein,” said Greg Nielsen.
“This will help everyone to better understand the magnitude of time, labor, and expense that goes into that delicious eating experience,” added Nielsen.
Local producers are encouraged to look into the Steers for Students program where their donation could have a profound impact.
Donations of beef are not the only way to contribute, as monetary donations are also accepted.
Interested individuals can contact the Sandhills Cattle Association at www.SandhillsCattle.com/Steers-4-Students.