In 1980, the founding members of the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate raised $20,000 for bids at the Junior Sale of Champions. Now, 38 years later, the Syndicate raises more than $3 million a year to make the dreams of young livestock exhibitors come true.
The Syndicate’s membership of more than 100 individuals work tirelessly, year-round, to raise money from potential sponsors to ensure that every animal up for auction at the Junior Sale of Champions is sold at a premium to participating sponsors.
These sponsors make a huge difference in the lives of individual students by encouraging the pursuit of higher education and careers in the agricultural industry.
Over the years, the Syndicate has grown to become the largest financial supporter of Junior exhibitors. Since 1980, they’ve raised more than $55.5 million for the youth exhibitors, provided over $1 million in scholarships for 4-H and FFA members, and helped more than 8,000 kids pursue their agricultural goals.
At the 2018 Junior Sale of Champions, the Grand Champion Steer of the Show sold for $200,000. In all, the sale raised in excess of $3.2 million for the youth exhibitors, the fifth consecutive year that the auction has topped $3 million.
Chairman: Doug Cassidy
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 17005, Fort Worth, TX 76102
The Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate was founded in 1980 by a small group of Fort Worth businessmen led by Don Weeks and Frank Neve. The group had attended the prior year’s livestock sale at the Fort Worth Stock Show and recognized that the prices being paid for the animals owned and exhibited by 4-H and FFA youth were below market price. They agreed that these prices were not fairly compensating these young exhibitors for their hard work and dedication over the previous year, and that they deserved better results at the greatest livestock show in the world.
At the Sale of Champions on the last Saturday of the Stock Show, these youngsters would bid their beloved animals farewell in exchange for dollars that would ultimately pay college tuition or fund their next agricultural project. The Syndicate founders believed that the youth exhibitors deserved to be rewarded.
The original Syndicate members went to the sale planning to spend $13,000 on livestock. However, the allure of the kids got the best of them and the group spent $20,000. The next year they established a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, began soliciting friends and business partners for contributions, and in 1981, they bought 59 steers and paid $130,000. The game was on.
The contributions grew at an astounding rate each year. In 1983, James M. “Jim Bob” Norman took on leadership of the Syndicate and preached the mission of providing these young agricultural leaders funding for secondary education. Jim Bob’s term was cut short when he died from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. However, his vision lived on when Frank Neve assumed the Chairmanship and held the first fundraiser to establish the James M. Norman Scholarship Fund. On that night in 1985 the Syndicate raised $76,000 and a fund was established to provide scholarships to FFA and 4-H participants who were pursuing an agricultural or life sciences degree at a Texas college.
In 1992, under the leadership of Terry Dallas, the Syndicate broke the $500,000 mark at the Sale of Champions while purchasing 204 steers. Just five years later, Gary Ray led the Syndicate to the sale and walked out with 259 animals at a price tag of over $1 million. Another milestone was reached in 2003 when Bob Merrill wrote a check to the Fort Worth Stock Show for $1.5 million in exchange for 270 of the finest cattle, sheep, goats and pigs in the world. In 2007, the $2 million mark was broken under the chairmanship of Bob Akin when 278 animals were sold for $2,317,000.
Today, the Stock Show Syndicate boasts a membership of more than 100 businessmen who volunteer their time and energy to realize the vision established nearly four decades ago. Over the years, the Syndicate has grown to become the largest financial supporter of Junior exhibitors. Since 1980, they’ve raised more than $55.8 million for the youth exhibitors, provided over $1 million in scholarships for 4-H and FFA members, and helped more than 8,000 kids pursue their agricultural goals.
The 2018 sale raised in excess of $3.1 million for the youth exhibitors. Since its inception in 1980, the Syndicate has now purchased more than 1200 animals at a total price topping $55.8 million. In the last 17 years alone, the group has raised $43 million, with more than a quarter of that ($16 million) coming since 2014. The all-time single-year record of $3.7 million was set in 2015.
The 2017 Grand Champion Steer of the Show, a 1,388-pound European crossbred, sold for $240,000.
The Fund was established as a scholarship fund of the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate, a 501(c)(3)organization. Initial and expansion funding was provided by individual, corporate and foundation contributions. In addition, contributions are made each year in conjunction with the Junior Livestock Auction. The Fund is planning to increase its endowment and the number of scholarships. If you are interested in participating in our mission to encourage youth to pursue agricultural careers, please contact us to discuss the possibilities for making tax-deductible contributions.
The Fund was established as a Scholarship Fund of the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate, a 501(c)(3) organization. Initial and expansion funding was provided by individual, corporate and foundation contributions. In addition, contributions are made each year in conjunction with the Junior Livestock Auction. In 2017, the Fund increased its endowment and the number of scholarships to 24 $10,000 scholarships per year. To participate in our mission to encourage youth to pursue agricultural careers, please contact us to discuss the possibilities for making tax-deductible contributions.
Education has been a fundamental goal of the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate from day one, and it shows. Over the years, the organization has helped more than 8,000 kids pursue their agricultural goals by providing over $52.7 million in funds to Texas youth by purchasing their projects at the Fort Worth Stock Show Junior Livestock Auction. In most cases, these funds are a critical element in their plans to pursue a college education. In addition, the Syndicate has an endowed scholarship fund.
The James M. “Jim Bob” Norman Scholarship Fund was established in 1984 as a permanent endowment in memory of Norman, who was chairman of the Syndicate at the time of his death. Norman was active in many youth organizations and it was his dream to start a college scholarship endowment to help young Texas men and women pursue agricultural careers.
Since its inception, the endowment has provided over $1.6 million in scholarships to young men and women. The Fund currently grants 24 $10,000 scholarships each year to Texas high school students. The scholars must attend a Texas institution in pursuit of a four-year bachelor degree in an agricultural or life sciences curriculum. They must enroll in and complete at least twelve hours each semester. The scholarships are granted through and administered by 4-H and FFA. The Fund stays in touch with its scholars’ progress through reports from 4-H and FFA as well as direct communication with the scholars.
The Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate would like to recognize and show appreciation to all of its sponsors, who year after year set records for giving. In 2016, sponsors of the Syndicate contributed well over $3 million for the youth exhibitors for their educational and vocational opportunities. Click on the link below to see these generous individuals and companies.