NDSU and the Saddle and Sirloin Club are scheduled to host the 86th Little International Livestock Contest Feb. 10-11 on the NDSU campus. During the event, Keith D. Bjerke will be recognized as the Agriculturalist of the Year.
The theme for this year’s Little International is “Agriculture in Action.” It is the largest student-run agricultural event in the state, with more than 200 members and 28 student-led committees helping to organize the longstanding tradition.
The two-day event begins at 8 a.m. each day, and will feature a variety of contests and the annual Dance in the Chips. FFA students and 4-H members will compete in livestock competitions on Feb. 10. In addition, NDSU students will participate in showmanship contests Feb. 11 that include beef, equine, sheep and swine. A public speaking competition and ham curing contest also are scheduled. The competitions will be held in Shepard Arena, the NDSU Horse Park, Bison Sports Arena and Memorial Union.
"For students involved in agriculture, the Little International is an imperative part of our collegiate career,” said Jessie Topp, a senior in agricultural communications from Grace City, N.D., who was selected queen for the event. “Being involved in Saddle and Sirloin has given me the opportunity to network with other students who share the same passion for agriculture and work together to put on an event that highlights our industry. The Little International is my way of taking an active role in giving our industry a voice."
Eric Berg, Saddle and Sirloin adviser and professor of animal science, said, “Obtaining a bachelor of science degree goes beyond the walls of the classroom. Communication, team building and leadership skills are something that every employer is looking for, yet these skills are very hard to teach in a conventional classroom. The students involved with Little I learn the importance of cooperation and organization.”
Bjerke will be honored for his lifetime achievements at the Hall of Fame banquet Feb. 10 at the Ramada Plaza Suites and Convention Center in Fargo. Banquet tickets are $25. For banquet information, contact Alisha Nord at 367-5609.
A native of Northwood, N.D., Bjerke graduated from NDSU in 1961, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in animal husbandry. For 25 years, he and his wife, Marian, owned and operated Spruce Row Farm near Northwood. He was the charter president of the North Dakota Pork Producers Council in 1971.
In 1989, Bjerke moved to Washington, D.C., to serve as administrator for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. He also was the executive vice president of the Commodity Credit Corp. Through these positions, he held responsibilities for the delivery of national farm programs in 50 states and Puerto Rico, consisting of 2,776 county offices, more than 38,000 employees and $30 billion of borrowing authority. From 2001-11, Bjerke served as the vice president of University Relations for NDSU, where his duties included university relations, legislative affairs, publication services and community and corporate outreach.
According to Saddle and Sirloin, Bjerke’s efforts have impacted thousands of students and the future of agriculture. He is being recognized as a “tremendous advocate and lobbyist for the agriculture industry in North Dakota and across the country.”
Bjerke and his wife, Marian, live in Casselton, N.D., and have three daughters (Cari, Patricia and Deborah), one son (Christopher), eight grandsons and two granddaughters.
This year’s show manager is Kelcey Holm of Ellendale, N.D. Nick Austin of Westhope, N.D., is the assistant manager. The public is invited to attend all events on both days.
For more information, visit www.ndsusaddleandsirloin.com. The link to the event schedule is http://ndsusaddleandsirloin.com/Schedule_of_Events.html.