Livestock Exchange LLC (LE) in Brush, Colo., proudly proclaims on their website that they offer the best service to meet customers’ livestock marketing needs through high quality and personal service. The sale barn, in operation since 1969, is owned, managed and staffed by dedicated, professional personnel.
Its name says it all. Not only today’s livestock, but also animals of far into the future inspire owner Robin Varelman to assist tomorrow’s producers. To help keep youth alive and active in ag businesses, she developed a program meant to encourage them in their post-secondary educations.
Anna Hellyer, entry coordinator for the Livestock Exchange Scholarship Program, reported the contest annually welcomes all graduating high school seniors or those with a second chance adult GED.
The previous five winners are Makeya Hernandez, 2017; Delray Mayhew, 2018; Kade Dutton, 2019; Lauren Bergner, 2020; Leona Powell, 2021.
Each year’s top entrant is selected by a committee, which this year was comprised of five community members and one LE employee.
In this, the sixth year of the program, LE presented the $2,500 award for 2022-2023 to Aspin Guettlein of Brush. The deserving winner well-fits the profile, if not exactly the background, of a young person highly interested in an agricultural career.
HOW SHE GOT THERE
Guettlein didn’t grow up on some big ranch/rodeo arena, nor had she early-on wished for a career in an ag profession. She was admitted, in fact, that she’d actually planned to become a diesel or auto body mechanic after college. But as everyone knows, even the best laid plans can quickly change when the heart gets involved.
She’d worked with animals while growing up on her grandma’s farm, which housed a few cows, pigs, chickens, goats, ducks and miniature horses. But then, about three years ago, Guettlein became a serious rider.
The first of her equines is Lacey, a sorrel Quarter Horse that’s mostly a pet. The quiet, older mare does have a sort of part-time job teaching Guettlein’s brother, sister, and 3-year-old nephew to ride.
Gutttlein also needed a job, a paying one. When grandma told her about Livestock Exchange, the young woman promptly headed over to apply for a job. Varelman offered the inexperienced young woman a position immediately. That was in June 2021.
A GROWING HERD
To assist with her new duties, Guettlein needed another horse; one with cow sense and experience.
When along came Bailey, a 3-year-old filly that Guettlein bought right out of a pasture, the dun roan had only one of those three qualifications: she was a horse! Her then sale barn-green owner described the green horse as tolerant of a saddle but knowing nothing else. But she gave the filly the same chance Varelman had given her and the two began sorting cows at LE. Riding and reining through on-the-job-training you might say.
Early conversations might have gone something like…
Bailey: “Uh, so what do you want me to do now, Boss?”
Guettlein: “You’re asking me?”
But Bailey and Guettlein are quick learners, working like a pair of old pros after not quite a year chasing cows around pens and up and down alleys. With college still in her plans, the human member of this team had already taken a few classes in 2021-2022 (the credits are transferable) at Morgan Community College.
By then, however, her dream had switched from becoming a mechanic to majoring in equine management and training at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo. In early 2022, she applied for the LE scholarship.
“My ag lifestyle and learning the process of training Bailey made me interested in trying the contest,” Guettlein said.
Not only was she pleasantly surprised at the result, so was Varelman, her unofficial mentor.
“She was pretty excited to learn I won because she had nothing to do with it (the contest),” Guettlein added.
Following the honor of winning, there was an accompanying awards dinner to attend. On May 6, 2022, Guettlein and her family members headed to Drover’s Cafe at LE. There they joined the committee and Varelman for a celebratory evening.
Guttlein described the delicious festivities.
“I was previously not a big fan of prime rib, but the way Grover’s prepared it, it was absolutely fantastic! My family all loved it, too!” she glowingly said.
The dinner also included such scrumptious sides as potatoes, corn and deserts.
Guettlein said she really enjoyed meeting the committee members, who explained to her the selection process by which she’d won: scoring based on grades, financial need, career potential and whether or not each entrant already had a job.
As the previous year’s winners know, following your dream is easier when there’s someone who believes in you enough to, as the old saying goes, “put their money where their mouth is”.
Guettlein follows a saying of her own: “Don’t stress too much on the future. Live every today like you don’t have a tomorrow.”
The 2023-2024 scholarship contest deadline is the first week of April 2023. For all qualification information and to enter, visit http://www.livestockexchange.org. Click on “Application”. Or call Anna Hellyer at Livestock Exchange, (970) 842-5115.