Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge: enhancing the educational value of beef projects

Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge: enhancing the educational value of beef projects

Nebraska 4-H, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Animal Science, offered the sixth year of the Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge in 2023.

The Fed Steer Challenge cultivates the next generation of leaders in the Nebraska cattle industry by providing youth opportunities. This challenge enhances the educational value of traditional 4-H beef projects and provides affordable options to reward production merit and market animal carcass value; accurate and complete record-keeping practices; industry and research knowledge; and producer engagement with the 4-H member.

The youth selected, purchased, exhibited, harvested, and analyzed carcass data on a steer while networking with industry professionals. Additionally, working as a learning cohort, they participated in monthly educational opportunities led by industry professionals and Animal Science faculty. Alongside these youth, large crowds at the Nebraska State Fair receive instruction from a commercial cattle buyer about sorting and evaluating steers.

The 2023 Nebraska participants included:

  • Lilee Chevalier, 17, Bennet, Lancaster County 4-H
  • Leah Christen, 17, Steinauer, Pawnee County 4-H
  • Rachel Hale, 16, Fullerton, Nance County 4-H
  • Joseph Fickenscher 18, Axtell, Kearney County 4-H
  • Eldon Haack, 15, Upland, Franklin County 4-H
  • Demi Lapaseotes, 16, Bridgeport, Morrill County 4-H
  • Nickolas Rohr, 17, Eustis, Frontier County 4-H
  • Logan Schmidt, 14, Deshler, Nuckolls/Thayer 4-H
  • Karina Smydra, 14, Saint Paul, Howard County 4-H
  • Karli Wagner, 17, Arthur, Arthur County 4-H

Top placings in the live animal portion:

  1. Logan Schmidt

Top placings in the growth performance portion:

  1. Karli Wagner
  2. Logan Schmidt
  3. Eldon Haack

Top placings in the carcass merit portion:

  1. Joseph Fickenscher
  2. Logan Schmidt
  3. Karli Wagner

Top placings in the record book portion:

  1. Nickolas Rohr
  2. Karina Smydra
  3. Leah Christen

Top placings in the industry interview portion:

  1. Leah Christen
  2. Karli Wagner
  3. Nickolas Rohr

Overall award winners:

  1. Karli Wagner
  2. Leah Christen
  3. Nickolas Rohr
  4. Logan Schmidt
  5. Karina Smydra

The winners of each award category receive cash prizes and the overall winners each will win a cash award sponsored by CoBank through the Nebraska 4-H Foundation, as well as a $500 scholarship to Nebraska’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. To learn more about the fed steer challenge, visit