RILEY, Kan. – Service Member Agricultural Vocation Education (S.A.V.E.) Farm’s mission to help build a bridge to farming for our nation’s veterans and transitioning service members has just been made easier, thanks to the generosity of a fellow rancher and the support of an animal health leader.

Wally and Doris Olson, Claremore, Oklahoma, ranchers who won a recent Merck Animal Health sweepstakes including a high-tech cattle handling system, generously decided to donate that equipment, including a computerized squeeze chute and panels for up to 35 head of cattle, to S.A.V.E. This tremendous donation now in place on the S.A.V.E. Training Farm near Manhattan, Kan., will be used to teach students how to accomplish a variety of cattle care operations.

The Merck Animal Health “Clean Up with Safe-Guard®” Sweepstakes was created to educate cattle producers on the importance and benefits of strategic parasite deworming for herd health,” says Becky Weishaar, marketing manager, Merck Animal Health.

“We are thrilled that a bonus to this effort is the grand prize winner opting to selflessly donate the corral system, scale and EID system to the S.A.V.E. organization to help teach and train veterans and transitioning service members in beef cattle management,” she adds. “We were also pleased to provide the animal health products needed to get their cow-calf herd started on the right track.”

Doris Olson, says, “I am very familiar with the Service member Agricultural Vocation Education (S.A.V.E.) program and the tremendous work they do to help our veterans transition into farming-related careers. I’m pleased to be able to donate this cattle system to their program which is truly changing lives. I know it will be put to good use for many years to come.” The system was used for the first time in May as the first herd of 13 cow/calf pairs was processed and released onto the 320-acre training farm.

“This system is a major win for us,” says S.A.V.E. president and retired Army Colonel Gary LaGrange. “It shows that good people of this country like the Olson’s and organizations such as Merck Animal Health sincerely care about helping to reintegrate our nation’s heroes who wish to farm.”

About S.A.V.E. Farm

Service member Agricultural Vocation Education (S.A.V.E.) Corp is a not-for-profit 501C3 charitable education corporation engaged in training veterans to farm. There are 2.3 million post 9-11 veterans in our nation today and many are surprised to find that 40% of them wish to farm. At a time when 63% of our nation’s farms are in the last generation and USDA wishes to create 1 million new farmers over the next 12 years, there is a golden opportunity for us to meet that need by training our veterans to manage those succession farms. S.A.V.E. does just that. Over the past 6 years, S.A.V.E. has introduced and led nearly 400 to farming.