By Marlee Moore
One Montgomery County cattleman’s legacy of hard work, humor and hospitality is tangibly affecting the next generation of livestock industry leaders.
Organized by the Alabama Farmers Federation State Beef Committee, the inaugural George Michael Henry Memorial Scholarship at Auburn University (AU) was awarded this fall to Michael Morrison of Clay County. The endowed scholarship honors Mike Henry, a cattle farmer and former State Beef Committee chairman who died last fall.
The $1,000 scholarship will annually benefit a College of Agriculture students majoring in animal science.
“This scholarship is a huge plus because it helps take stress off me worrying about finances and paying my way through school,” said Morrison, 21, whose studies concentrate on meat science. “It’s helped tremendously so I can focus on my classes.”
At Auburn, Morrison is involved in the Collegiate Cattlemen’s chapter and works at the Meats Lab. He’s also a former Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation scholarship recipient.
The Lineville native grew up around cattle, but his industry interest beefed up in middle school when he became involved in livestock judging and showing cattle through FFA and 4-H. While completing classes at Gadsden State Community College, Morrison worked part-time at the local Piggly Wiggly, which piqued an interest in meat science.
It’s a career choice Henry would have supported, said State Beef Committee Chairman Phil Slay of Chambers County. Slay’s relationship with Henry spanned decades. In the early ‘90s, Henry and other AU livestock judging team members frequented Slay’s farm near LaFayette to practice for competition. Henry earned an undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from AU before attending graduate school at the University of Florida. While in Florida, he coached the university’s dairy cattle judging team.
“As the Beef Committee, we wanted to honor Mike,” Slay said. “He was interested in promoting livestock judging and helping kids have an opportunity to further their education. I know Mike would be proud of Michael.”
The owners of Pintlala Cattle Co. in Hope Hull, Henry and wife Denise have five children. The Henrys established a bull development operation and a successful catering business. They were Alabama’s 2005 Outstanding Young Farm Family. Henry was a former Montgomery County Farmers Federation president and State Young Farmers Committee chairman.
Denise said the Henry family is humbled by the generosity of those who funded the scholarship in her husband’s name.
“Cattle and farming and Auburn meant so much to Mike,” she said. “He had a heart for helping young people. If they were interested in showing cattle, he would do anything to try to help. This scholarship helps someone go to college, have a good future and follow their dreams. Mike would have loved this.”