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NILE educates youth through heifer program

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FFA and 4-H youth ages 12 to 16 can get a start in the beef cattle industry and gain knowledge about the beef industry through the NILE Merit Heifer program.

Although NILE is based in Montana, the program isn’t limited to Montana residents. Youth in any neighboring state, including Wyoming, can apply for, and receive, a live heifer calf. Applications for the animals for the 2021-2022 year are open now, and participants are chosen based on merit, future goals and ability to care for the animal.

In addition to caring for their animals, participants in the program are responsible for keeping records, breeding and bringing the animals back at the end of the year to the NILE Stock Show & Rodeo. Applicants also must make a three- to five-minute YouTube video that includes the applicant’s goals and objectives for the Merit Heifer.

Merit Heifer recipients compete at the end of the year for best phenotype, top showmanship honors, best record book, best interviews and overall top herdsman.

In addition to seeking applicants for the Merit Heifer program, NILE also is seeking donors of the calves for the coming year.

Applications for the program must be received by no later than 4 p.m. June 30, and recipients of Merit Heifers will be announced in late August. Applications may be made online at

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