Mick Colvin served as the executive director of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand for its first 22 years, leading the concept to become a viable solution for marketing premium beef on a global scale. His legacy continues to drive the brand and greater beef community today. On a more personal level, Colvin and the scholarship bearing his name have encouraged more than 75 students since 2002 to continue their educations and enter careers that strengthen the beef community. These are a few of their stories and tips for college students preparing for careers in agriculture and beyond.

Funded by donations received from brand partners, the scholarships help young professionals achieve their dreams on their own farms, too. Numerous companies have supported the Colvin Scholarship since fundraising began in 1999, including these companies through the auction at Annual Conference this year: Sysco Corporation, Sysco Jacksonville, Macgregors Meat & Seafood and National Beef Packing.

Find out more about the Colvin Scholarship applications due Jan. 17, 2020, at CertifiedAngusBeef.com.

Blake Bloomberg, Animal Science Professor, and Wravenna Phipps Bloomberg, Adjunct Professor in Agricultural Communications, Oklahoma State University (pictured above)

Blake Bloomberg received the scholarship in 2007. After using the support to complete graduate school at Texas A&M, he now teaches and coaches the livestock judging team at Oklahoma State University (OSU).

“I do a lot of work in meat animal evaluation with our teams, so we look at different pricing structures of the market,” Blake says. “We do a lot of that from a teaching standpoint here at the university.”

He sees teaching as a way of giving back and creates awareness of the scholarship fund, too, encouraging some of his students to apply.

“I think the Colvin Scholarship allows people to make their dreams become a reality,” Blake says. “It helps tomorrow’s leaders seek out different opportunities that they may not have ever had, if not for the scholarship.”

His wife, Wravenna, won a Colvin scholarship the year before and participated in a linked internship available at the time.

“I grew up in the Junior Angus program, so I knew about the Certified Angus Beef ® brand,” she said, “Then I knew about the standards and what to look for and some of those kinds of things, but it wasn’t until I did the internship that I fully appreciated how valuable that entity is, especially to Angus breeders.”

Wravenna is now an adjunct professor in agricultural communications at OSU and a regional broadcasting representative for LiveAuctions.TV. She teaches online classes and coordinates the internet portion of livestock sales in the fall and spring. Most of the sales in her region feature Angus cattle.

“One of the things that I am very proud of is Blake and I were both able to find ourselves in positions where we both support agriculture and specifically a livestock community, but it has allowed me to stay home and prioritize our kids right now,” Wravenna says.

She and Blake have four children under the age of seven. The family also raises cattle and gets the kids involved early in production and the beef community. That’s the way mom and dad were brought up and developed a passion for it.

“The beef community was ingrained in me from the beginning, growing up on a family operation,” Blake says. “I always assumed I’d go back to the family farm, but through coaching is how I kind of got into academia. The beef industry, when you grow up in it like I have my whole life, it’s made an impression on me from the very beginning.”

Emily (Tennant) Barnes, Pharmacist

A 2009 winner of the Colvin scholarship, Emily Barnes gives back to the beef community in a rather personal way through her blog, “Farmstead 593.”

“Many of our friends and family members had a lot of confusion about how we farm,” Barnes says. “On the blog, we share our day-to-day activities—we feel like that regular exposure builds trust among consumers, as they see how much care, work and joy goes into raising cattle.”

Between updates on the website, she and her husband John run a registered Angus and commercial cow-calf operation in the middle of North Carolina near Willow Spring. On top of that, Barnes keeps a day job, too. Communication skills cross over into each area of interest.

“I work in a community-pharmacy setting, like a drug store,” she says. “In my job as a pharmacist, I often serve as the conduit between doctors and patients. I don’t think I realized how much impact my work as a pharmacist would have on my other job.”

Rebecca (Tokach) Acheson, Associate Director of Beef Operations, Tyson Foods

Rebecca (Tokach) Acheson, grew up on an Angus ranch in North Dakota and pursued her passion for the cattle industry by attending Kansas State University for a bachelor’s of science degree, Texas Tech University for a master’s in meat science and her Ph.D. in the same from Colorado State University.

“When I started my college career, I never dreamed I would spend my days managing six beef processing plants for Tyson Foods, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Acheson says.

Through those years of study, she says, “I was blessed to have been supported by the Colvin Scholarship fund, because it allowed me to be more involved in and around campus, making connections and having experiences that would guide my career.”

Acheson credits the mentoring links formed at universities and industry “that led me to where I am today.”

Advising current students, she says, “Use your time in college to figure out what career path excites you—life is short—when college is over, you will want a career that gets you out of bed each morning.”

Jamie (May) Purfeerst, Digital Editor, BEEF Magazine

Growing up on a hobby farm in southern Minnesota, Jamie (May) Purfeerst always had an interest in the cattle. Little did she know that would open doors and provide the opportunity to pursue her dream of being on a collegiate livestock judging team.

The 2010 winner of the Colvin Scholarship credits that financial support for letting her engage with the North Dakota State University Livestock Judging Team. An experience that she recalls as, “extremely valuable and laid the ground work for where I am today.”

Purfeerst, a double-major in advertising and communications, is now Digital Editor with BEEF Magazine.

“Now is the time to take risks and say yes,” she says to college students nearing their halfway point on the way to graduation.

“Go into internships away from home, travel abroad and never turn down an opportunity to stretch yourself,” Purfeerst says. “All of these experiences will add people to your network, which is always valuable.”