SAN ANTONIO -

Over the years the San Antonio Stock Show And Rodeo has raised more than $134 million to help educate the youth of Texas.

Neal Burney is one of those youths.

“Extremely blessed to be one of the recipients,” Burney said.

The scholarship has made a huge difference.

“There is no doubt that the San Antonio Livestock Exposition scholarship was by far the biggest contributor to my life and education," Burney said.

Burney received one of the first $10,000 scholarships awarded back in 1987. That money allowed him to attend Texas A&M University.

“It made a huge difference to me, probably made the difference whether I went to college or not," Burney said. ”It a allowed me to go to A&M and focus on my studies and be involved in different activities.”

Burney grew up in Comfort. That is where he developed his work ethic since he started his days feeding animals at 3 a.m. He showed sheep and steers. He was in horse shows and did range judging. He was even the president of 4H in 1986.

All that work paid off with the scholarship. He also learned public speaking and leadership skills.

“The leadership side is what I took from the whole program that is what I think made the biggest impact on me," Burney said.

Everything he learned as a youth and as a college graduate with a degree in animal science, he uses in his current job as the director of territory sales for Sysco, a restaurant supply company.

“I am able to use my ag background. I am able to use the work ethic I learned," said Burney.

He has worked for Sysco for 16 years, and since his job requires knowledge about foods, his animal science degree comes in handy. He also makes good use of those speaking and leadership skills he learned since he is in management.

“In a million years I would have never imagined I would be here. I just feel fortunate,” Burney said.