What if someone was giving you $2,000?

Hey AJSA member, I know you hate it when your parents ask so instead I will, “Have you worked on your Merit Award yet?”

I know how it goes. I’ll work on it tomorrow, but the next thing you know its May 30th and you haven’t rounded up your letters of recommendation. So why wait? 

First lets start with those of you just beginning the Merit Award Process with the Bronze. Do that right now. The Bronze Merit Award carries no age requirement so if you are a young Simmental breeder, take the time to fill out the application here. Parents and State Associations, we need to be encouraging more junior members to apply for this award. As a former AJSA member, a Simmental breeder, and Foundation board member I think this is where we are missing the boat. We aren’t getting these junior members when they are new, excited, and really involved to fill out this simple application to receive this award. They might not go to many National Simmental events, but they are very involved on their local and state level, and that deserve to be commended. Don’t let the juniors in your state wait to apply for the Bronze when they realize they have to have it to apply for the Silver; make it a big deal to do it and win it in your state!

Once you turn 16 there are many things you are looking forward to, right? Driving, Prom, Driving, College. College costs money… lots of money. The Foundation gives AJSA members an opportunity to win scholarship money, and if you are reading this than more than likely you are one of those AJSA members who can apply for that. Because you already filled out that Bronze Merit that I mentioned above. The application which can be found here requires a little time and effort along with 2 letters of recommendation. So you can ask your youth pastor, 4-H or FFA Leader, employer, or anyone who knows you and can vouch for your awesomeness to write a letter for you. When chosen and awarded this scholarship you will get to walk up front at the banquet, get your picture in the Register, and have some money toward college. All for a few hours of application time.

I should really skip over those of you who are able to apply for the Gold Merit Award because more than likely no one has to tell you twice to do it. Your headed off to college or already there, and you know the amount of money it takes. Humor me here. So instead of trying to tell you to apply, let’s talk about what its like to win. You are sitting at the AJSA National Classic banquet after a long, hard week of competition. You are nervous or is that excited?  Maybe a little tired? Maybe pure adrenaline? Once they start the Merit Awards, you are trying to guess who each person is from their bios. I know I did. Until that one that is all too familiar. Familiar because its you. Your mom cries. Your parents tell you how proud they are, and you walk to the front to receive your award. Did I mention your picture goes in the Register? For an AJSA member the Gold Merit Award is the highest honor you can receive, so why would you wait any longer to achieve it? Gold Merit can be found here.

The Merit Awards are only as successful as the AJSA members its serves. The Foundation is giving away money to help advance the education and lives of AJSA members, and you should definitely take advantage of that. It is a prestigious honor to win a Merit Award. I can remember reading the bios about the winners each year in the Register following the junior nationals waiting for my time. So when your mom or dad reminds you to work on it don’t roll your eyes; tell them, “I know, Holli already told me to!”

Merit Award Applications are due June 1. For complete information on the Merit Scholarships – click here

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