Parker Saum has been helping his family raise beef cattle since he was a young child, and he hopes to stick with it “forever.”
“It’s something that’s always been a part of my life,” says the 2022 high school graduate who’s heading to college to study agriculture in the fall. Saum has racked up a long list of agricultural accolades over the years, most recently nabbing the title of steer show Grand Champion at the 51st annual Tennessee Junior Livestock Beef Expo in Lebanon.
More than 250 4-H and FFA members from the Volunteer State exhibited their beef cattle projects at the July 1 event, which featured a market steer show, heifer shows, showmanship competition, skillathon evaluation and fellowship for youth across the commonwealth.
What made Saum’s latest livestock win even more meaningful was the expo’s commitment to helping those in need through a local initiative designed to help feed hungry Tennesseeans.
The Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association (TCA) launched the Second Harvest Initiative in conjunction with the expo a decade ago to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. Through this unique philanthropic program, TCA and industry sponsors – including Farm Credit Mid-America – purchase market steers from junior exhibitors. The purchased steers are then processed, and the meat is donated to Second Harvest to feed those in need.
“There is a life lesson to be learned as kids get exposed to how we all have a social responsibility to help those around us,” says Shane Williams, senior financial officer with Farm Credit Mid-America. The long-time team member is also a part-time farmer and former Tennessee Cattleman’s Association board member.
“This event has a special place in my heart because I raise beef cattle and I helped create the ground work for the program while on the TCA board,” he says. “However, most importantly, as a tenured Farm Credit Mid-America team member, it makes me proud that we support programs that fit within our compass and our purpose of securing the future of rural communities and agriculture, in this case, one student at a time.”
It’s a commitment shared by the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association, according to Melinda Perkins, director of Youth Programs and Outreach for the organization.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Second Harvest Initiative, which has achieved the following results:
- 38 purchased steers,
- 21,000 pounds of donated beef, and
- $138,000 invested in 4-H and FFA projects.
“The TCA Second Harvest Initiative gives the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association the unique opportunity to support the next generation of cattle producers while also giving back to hungry Middle Tennesseans,” Perkins says. “Our endeavors would not be possible without the generous support of Farm Credit Mid-America and other partners.”