Lowry boy wins a heifer through the Minnesota Youth Beef Experience Program

Brenden Bryce of Lowry received the Minnesota Youth Beef Experience Program's Symposium heifer donated by the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association at the 2022 Minnesota Beef Expo.

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Brenden Bryce visits with his heifer named Legacy after a head injury during wrestling practice at Alexandria Area High School left him temporarily in a wheelchair. Bryce wanted to see Legacy but was unable to make it to the barn, so his parents brought her to their front door so he could see her. "I think she wanted to see him as much as he wanted to see her," Brenden's dad said.
Contributed photo.

LOWRY — In Oct. of 2022, Brenden Bryce, 14, of Lowry brought home a heifer named Legacy.

Brenden won Legacy through the Minnesota Youth Beef Experience Program — which awards young "cattle enthusiasts" from across the Midwest with heifers donated by cattle producers to get their "feet wet in the beef business," according to its website. Since 2004, the program has awarded 175 heifers.

Applicants must be between 12 and 16 years old; live in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, or North or South Dakota; and participate in either 4-H, FFA, or be a junior breed association member. Brenden is the treasurer for the Lake Mary Troopers 4-H Club.

"Since it was my first time applying, I didn't think I would get selected. When they called my name, I was in shock but really happy," said Brenden.

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Brenden Bryce with his heifer, Legacy, at the 2022 Minnesota Beef Expo.
Contributed photo.

Under guidance from his mentor, Mark Pesek, Brenden has to raise, breed and maintain complete records on the care of Legacy, along with monthly progress reports to the original owner. Along with the heifer, he also received two straws of semen from Minnesota Select Sires, an Andis cattle clippers and 100 pounds of Purina Show Chow from Purina Animal Nutrition.


Brenden will be using the semen specimens to breed Legacy and will be showing her at events throughout the summer. He is also required to show her at the next Minnesota Beef Expo, which is in October of this year.

Every year, 10 recipients are selected and one gets the symposium heifer. Brenden was the 2022 symposium recipient. Unlike the other recipients who receive donated heifers, the symposium recipient gets to bid during the cattle auction during the Minnesota Beef Expo with money donated by the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association. Brenden bought Legacy, who got her name because she came from Legacy Cattle Company out of LeRoy, Minn.

"I liked how she looked moving through the ring... And I have a calf that reminded me of her and I've done well (showing) her a few years ago," said Brenden when asked what prompted him to bid on Legacy. He added that her size and structure looked good for having quality calves.

Along with bidding on a heifer of his choice, as the symposium recipient, Brenden also got to participate in the MYBEP Ideas and Insights Symposium, which includes education sessions and a lecture from a celebrity speaker. Brenden was able to hear from Katey Jo Gordon, winner of season two of the Ultimate Cowboy Showdown.

Part of the application process is providing two letters of recommendation — one of which has to come from his 4-H leader — and an essay on his experience in agriculture and his future goals. Brenden wrote that he plans on either becoming a diesel mechanic or opening his own butcher shop where he will raise and sell cattle on the side. He added that it is a possibility he might take over his grandfather's farm — which is set to be passed to his uncle — but he's not sure.

Brenden's family has been farming for the last three generations since his great-grandfather began farming outside of Glenwood.

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Brenden Bryce, left, at a cattle showing.
Contributed photo.

For the experience side, Brenden wrote how he bailed and sold hay with his grandfather to purchase pigs when he was in first grade. That is how he got started off in animal showmanship — with pigs. Eventually, he leased cattle from his uncle and began raising his own herd.

At the moment, he lives on a hobby farm outside of Lowry where he has five cows, four of which are set to calf in march the other will calf in June. He also has three show heifers and two steers which will also be shown. They are all owned by Brenden and his sister. Brenden says his favorite part is growing the herd and showing them.


Brenden is thankful for the MYBEP not only for providing him with a heifer but also for the experience and networking that comes with the program.

"It's a really neat experience. You meet a lot of new people that know a lot about the cattle industry and that I will probably know the rest of my life," said Brenden.

Outside of 4-H, showing cattle, and helping on his grandfather's farm, Brenden wrestles varsity through Alexandria Area High School since seventh grade. He is now a ninth-grader.

In early January, Brenden suffered a head injury during wrestling practice. It has affected his eyesight and left him in a wheelchair. Both conditions are temporary. Brenden says he hopes that by springtime he is well enough to start showing Legacy. Until then, he is making multiple trips a week down to Hennepin Healthcare's Traumatic Brain Injury Outpatient Program for physical therapy.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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