by Enrico Villamaino
Since 2008, the Hereford Youth Foundation of America (HYFA) has awarded $10,000 scholarships to 10 students annually who demonstrate a strong work ethic and a commitment to higher education.
The Jack & Donna Vanier Scholarship was endowed by a gift from the Vanier family, longstanding Hereford breeders and operators of CK Ranch in Brookville, KS. Awardees come from the membership of the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA). To be eligible for the award, applicants must be either completing their senior year in high school or be currently enrolled in a four-year accredited university, community college or a technical institution.
Regan Mitchem of Vale, NC, and Madison Sifford, of Goldvein, VA, were among this year’s recipients.
Mitchem, 20, is a junior at North Carolina State University where she studies both animal science, concentrating on veterinary bioscience, and nutrition science. She is a three-year applicant for this scholarship and a two-time winner (she also took home the award in 2020).
A third-generation cattlewoman, Mitchem has been involved in both state and national Hereford associations since 2013. She spends every other weekend of the semester in Vale at her family’s farm, Mitchem’s Farm 3C. “I work as the herd manager for our 100 cows,” she explained. “I’ve also had a chance to get involved with some of our reproductive programs. I like getting to take part in our in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer work.”
She plans on applying to the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine in autumn of 2022. Of course, veterinarians work with animals of all shapes and sizes. With all due respect to the feline-focused physicians and corps of canary caretakers, she has understandably set her sights elsewhere. Mitchem laughed, “Obviously, I’d like to be a veterinarian that focuses on larger animals!”
Sifford, 20, is currently in her sophomore year at Virginia Tech. She is double majoring in dairy science and communications and has tacked on a minor in political science. Raised in North Carolina, she relocated with her parents and two sisters to Goldvein to be closer to her mother’s work for the USDA in Washington, D.C. Her experience stems from working on her family’s two farms, Roseview Cattle Farm and Plessed-Rose Dairy Farm. “Roseview Cattle Farm is 20 years old and has a herd of 40 Herefords. Our dairy started up 12 years ago and has 20 Holsteins,” she said.
According to Sifford, she has been working with cows as far back as she can remember. She does, however, have a deep, dark secret and confided, “I love our Herefords, of course. But I really do have a bigger soft spot for our Holsteins.”
After winning the Vanier Scholarship in her first attempt at the prize, she would like to work for a few years in communications. She’s hoping to get an internship at a national dairy farm magazine. After that, she’d like to apply to law school.
In 2021, the HYFA’s net assets reached an all-time high of over $5 million, and $186,000 was given back to Hereford youth through the Vanier Scholarship and other initiatives.