For this Aroostook farm family, raising steer began with a prize-winning essay

Mike Umphrey was a junior in high school when he entered and won a Sears & Roebuck agriculture essay contest more than 50 years ago.

First prize? A pure breed heifer calf.

“I entered that contest because I was in Future Farmers of America and 4-H,” the retired Aroostook County farmer and potato broker said. “That cow started my dairy business.”

Now, a half century later, Umphrey is watching his grandchildren raise their own bulls as part of the Aroostook Valley 4-H Baby Beef Club.

And while neither 4-H nor FFA attract the numbers of students they once did in northern Maine, Umphrey said the lessons participating in those programs teaches have remained the same.

“It’s learning to work and a what farming is really like,” Umphrey said. “There are a lot of kids today that just don’t see that.”

Sitting across the kitchen table from her grandfather on a recent Saturday morning, Grace McCrum, 17, agreed.

The St. John Valley Times/Fiddlehead Focus is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “For this Aroostook farm family, raising steer began with a prize-winning essay,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Julia Bayly, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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