Over 160 people from across the state gathered April 4 at the Mercer County Extension Office for the 10th Annual Dustin Worthington “I Love Cows” Essay Contest awards ceremony. At t his year’s ceremony, eighteen beef heifers were given away to students who participated in the contest. The contest is open to all FFA & 4-H members interested in the cattle industry in the state of Kentucky.
Over 82 entries from 34 counties were judged by local committees across the state to select the winners. Again this year the program included at-large statewide awards. In each organization, 4-H and FFA, two cows were awarded to members. Any youth in the state of Kentucky could apply with the exception of counties that have a county contest. The county contests were open to the youth in the following counties: Anderson, Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln, Mason, Lyon, Mercer, Taylor, Metcalfe, Pendleton, Warren and Washington.
The award was established in 2000 after the death of Dustin Worthington, a Mercer County teen who was involved in the cattle industry. Worthington was killed along with his friend Dale Goodpaster in an automobile accident on April 4th of 2000 near the community of Mayo in Mercer County. In 2000, two registered beef heifers were donated and given away. Four heifers were donated and given away in 2001. Six heifers were donated and given away in 2002. In 2003, twelve heifers were given away. In 2004, fifteen heifers were awarded. In 2005, eleven heifers were awarded. In 2006, ten heifers were awarded. In 2007, seventeen heifers were awarded. And, in 2008, eighteen heifers were awarded. To date 114 animals have been awarded.
Washington County became involved in the “I Love Cows” contest in 2001. Past winners for Washington County include Cody Young, Josh Wheatley, Jillian Warren, Wesley Carrico, Sarah Teater, Amber Thompson, Kelly Craig, Taylor Blandford and Valerie Mitchell. Two heifers were presented in 2008, one in memory of Jeff Settles by the Washington County Cattleman’s organization.
The 2009 Washington County recipient is Emilee Graves, a seventh grader at St. Dominic Elementary. Emilee will receive a registered Angus heifer that was donated by the 2008 winner Valerie Mitchell in memory of Jeff Settles. Emilee is the daughter of Tim and Lori Graves. Also applying this year from Washington County was Russell Hardin.
Other 2009 winners included: Anderson County - Quetzal Velasco and Courtney Nash, both heifers were donated by Anderson County Cattlemen’s Association. Boyle County - Gage Camic, Garrard County -Sarah-Ann Byrd, Lincoln County - Levi Brock and Logan Warner, the heifer was donated by Hal Akers, Mason County -Taylor Matheny, the heifer was donated by 2007 winner Ashley Gifford, Mercer County - Elizabeth Gray and Logan Kaenzig with the heifer donated by Bluegrass Stockyards in memory of Dale & Austin Goodpaster and Jim Bob Horn. Taylor County - Nicholas Smith, Warren County - Morgan Askins, the heifer was donated by 2008 winner Austin Cole. Lyon County - Shelby Murphy, heifer was donated by Anthony Young, Hayden Murphy, heifer was donated by Rod Murphy, and Allison Murphy, heifer was donated by Brian Dunning. Statewide 4-H - Bryce Thompson - Marion County, the heifer was donated by 2006 Marion County winner Ben Mudd, and Statewide FFA - Brian Chism - Meade County. Pendelton County - Brittany McDaniel, and Metcalfe County - Heather McIntyre.
This program encourages but does not require youth to participate in a “chain program,” this is when the first born heifer is donated back to the program. Some of the past winners have volunteered to donate their first heifer calf back to the fund for future winners. To date, there have been 35 past winners donate animals back to the program.
This year six heifers were purchased by the Dustin Worthington Memorial Fund. Farms interested in donating a heifer of any beef breed can contact Dennis Worthington at 859-734-7533. FFA and 4-H students or leaders interested in participating can get information by calling Dennis Worthington at 859-734-6962 or by going to the Dustin Worthington Memorial Web site at http://www.dustinworthingtonmemorial.org.Financial contributions can be mailed to P.O. Box 520, Harrodsburg, KY 40330.