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Brush woman wins agricultural scholarship program

Livestock Exchange LLC (LE) in Brush, Colorado proudly proclaims on its website that it offers the best service in meeting customers’ livestock marketing needs through high quality, personal service. The sales barn, in operation since 1969, is owned, managed and staffed by a dedicated professional staff.

Its name says it all. Not only the livestock of today, but also the animals of the future inspire owner Robin Varelman to help the producers of tomorrow. To help keep young people alive and active in farming ventures, she developed a program to encourage them in their post-secondary education.

Anna Hellyer, entries coordinator for the Livestock Swap Program, said the competition welcomes all high school seniors or those with a second-chance adult GED each year.



The five previous winners are Makeya Hernandez, 2017; Delray Mayhew, 2018; Kade Dutton, 2019; Lauren Bergner, 2020; Leona Powell, 2021.

Each year, the best participant is selected by a committee composed this year of five community members and one LE employee.



In this sixth year of the program, LE presented the $2,500 award for 2022-2023 to Aspin Guettlein of Brush. The deserving winner corresponds well to the profile, if not exactly to the background, of a young person very interested in an agricultural career.

Aspin Guettlein, front left, his grandmother, next to Aspin, and other family members pose for a photo at the scholarship dinner. Courtesy picture

HOW SHE GOT THERE

Guettlein didn’t grow up in a big ranch/rodeo arena, nor did she initially want a career in an agricultural profession. She admitted, in fact, that she actually planned to become a diesel or body mechanic after college. But as everyone knows, even the best-laid plans can quickly change when the heart gets involved.

She had worked with animals while growing up on her grandmother’s farm, which housed a few miniature cows, pigs, chickens, goats, ducks and horses. But then, about three years ago, Guettlein became a serious rider.

The first of his equines is Lacey, a chestnut Quarter Horse who is mostly a companion animal. The quiet, older mare has some sort of part-time job teaching Guettlein’s brother, sister and nephew to ride.

Guettlein also needed a job, paid. When grandmother told her about Livestock Exchange, the young woman quickly approached her to apply for a job. Varelman immediately offered the inexperienced young woman a position. It was in June 2021.

Aspin Guettlein and Robin Varelman, owner of Livestock Exchange LLC in Brush, Colorado, at the awards dinner. Courtesy picture

A GROWING HERD

To help him in his new duties, Guettlein needed another horse; one with the sense and experience of the cow.

When Bailey, a 3-year-old filly that Guettlein bought straight from pasture, arrived, the dun roan had only one of those three qualities: she was a horse! His then green barn 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 started sorting cows at LE. Ride and master through on-the-job training, you might say.

The first conversations might have gone something like…

Bailey: “Uh, so what do you want me to do now, boss?”

Guettlein: “Are you asking me?

But Bailey and Guettlein are learning fast, working like a pair of old pros after not quite a year of chasing cows around paddocks and down lanes. With the university still in her plans, the human member of this team had already taken a few courses in 2021-2022 (credits are transferable) at Morgan Community College.

By then, however, her dream had shifted from becoming a mechanic to majoring in equine management and training at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado. In early 2022, she applied for the LE scholarship.

“My farming lifestyle and learning about Bailey’s training process made me want to give the contest a try,” Guettlein said.

Not only was she pleasantly surprised by the result, but also Varelman, her unofficial mentor.

“She was pretty excited to hear that I won because she had nothing to do with it (the contest),” Guettlein added.

After the honor of winning, there was an accompanying awards dinner to attend. On May 6, 2022, Guettlein and his family members went to Drover’s Cafe in LE. There they joined the committee and Varelman for a festive evening.

Guettlein described the delightful festivities.

“I was not a big fan of prime rib before, but the way Grover prepared it was absolutely fantastic! My family all loved it too!” she said enthusiastically.

The dinner also included such scrumptious sides as potatoes, corn, and desserts.

Guettlein said she really enjoyed meeting the committee members, who explained to her the selection process by which she won: scoring based on grades, financial need, career potential and whether each entrant already had a employment or not.

Pictured, L-R, Robin Varelman, Shirley Stephen, Anna Hellyer, Aspin Guettlein, Karen Seward-Furrow and her husband Robert Furrow at the scholarship awards dinner. Courtesy picture

As last 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 his own: “Don’t dwell too much on the future. Live every today as if you have no tomorrow.

The 2023-2024 scholarship competition deadline is the first week of April 2023. For all qualification information and to participate, visit http://www.livestockexchange.org. Click on “Application”. Or call Anna Hellyer at Livestock Exchange, (970) 842-5115.

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