A group of North Dakota State University judging team alumni are coming together to create an endowment to support the university’s livestock and meat judging programs.

“We just thought it's too bad that a program that has been so successful is falling into a little bit of disrepair. We need to fix it and that’s what we’re here for,” Paul Berg said.

Berg received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees all from NDSU. While he enjoys everything NDSU has to offer, he has a special passion for the livestock and meat judging programs.

“I started coaching and helping with the livestock judging program as a graduate student and took over as the meat judging coach in 1975, I coached my last team in 2009. I coached about 42 teams total,” Berg said.

The livestock and meat judging endowment is encompassed in three parts: monetary donations, calf donations and designated lots.

“We set a goal this year of finding 20 donors that would give us a calf; we reached that goal. They will be fed out at a feedlot and at this point harvested at the meat lab at NDSU and sold through their retail product. These calves came from all over the state. They pretty much covered the state,” Berg said.

As for the designated lot aspect, purebred producers will be able to have a designated lot at their sale where they will donate a percentage of the lot’s sold price, or the entire sum itself.

The goal of this endowment is to help create more stability in the program that was once very successful.

“We have not had a lot of consistency over the past eight to 10 years, and we just want to try to create some stability in the program. We would love to add some sort of funding for a judging team coaching position to give them some stability and encourage these kids to North Dakota State and carry on the tradition,” Bryan Stromman said.

Stromman is a graduate of NDSU, where he was a track and field athlete, as well as a cross country athlete. While those kept him busy, he was also a member of NDSU’s livestock judging team, an experience he truly enjoyed.

“I was on the team in the early '80s and we had a very competitive team; the teams at the time were after us. Our team was second in the national contest and was one point behind Illinois, so we had a competitive team and did quite well. We had a real good time, really close friends, and those people continue to be my friends today,” Stromman said.

Stromman is not alone: Many NDSU livestock judging alumni have shown their support for this endowment.

“We have reached out to past alumni and communicated what we want to do, and we have about 400 alumni that have signed on with us,” Stromman said.

The group also hopes to give scholarships to youth who wish to attend NDSU and join the livestock or meat judging teams.

“We would really love to grow the program and offer scholarships and get kids to come and carry on the tradition at NDSU,” Stromman said.

Stromman and Berg believe the programs can help shape the next generation of successful North Dakotans.

“The program has done too good of a job of training people that stay in North Dakota and commit themselves to the North Dakota economy and workforce. We hope this goes really well; it has certainly started off really well,” Berg said.