Nebraska Beef Ambassador: Ashtyn Shrewsbury
October 6, 2016
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the beef industry.
I'm from Alliance, Nebraska and I grew up working with my family on our commercial cow-calf operation. As I got older I became involved with my local FFA chapter where I was a two time chapter president and went on to serve as the 2014 Nebraska State FFA Vice President. I fully attribute my passion for the agriculture industry to my involvement in the National FFA Organization. It was in those classrooms, contests and supervised agricultural experiences where I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and challenged to become a leader in the agriculture industry. Through FFA I also started my personal herd, where I am working on growing a seedstock operation to raise and sell Red Angus Bulls. I am currently a junior Animal Science major at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln with a minor in Agribusiness Entrepreneurship. I am very involved on campus serving as Block and Bridle President, Collegiate Cattlemen Vice President, as well as an active member of the Nebraska Beef Industry Scholars, Collegiate Farm Bureau, as well as the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program.
2. Why did you want to be a beef ambassador?
I wanted to be a beef ambassador to have the opportunity to share the beef story. I absolutely love working in agriculture but I also have a passion for telling the agriculture story. The beef ambassador position presented an excellent opportunity to share my experiences with consumers and combine my interests in consumer education with my passion for the beef industry. As I look ahead to the National Beef Ambassador contest in late September the same idea applies, having the opportunity to serve as a National Beef Ambassador would only continue to open doors to share the beef communities story with people that need to hear it most.
3. What did you do to prepare?
To prepare for the state contest I foused on studying the major industry issues as well as learning some of the fast facts on beef nutrition. I have a lot of experience with public speaking from my State FFA Office position, so my priority was making sure I had the information needed to be successful. As I am in preparations for the National Beef Ambassador Contest I am working on the same principles. I have spent a lot of time breaking down details of big issues such as the Clean Water Act, Dietary Guidelines, and Veterinary Feed Directives as well as finding new information on beef nutrition benefits and diets. With the vast number of media sources today, it's incredibly easy to get information however finding good fact base industry information can often be a challenge.
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4. What do you enjoy about being an ambassador?
I have really enjoyed the opportunities to network with producers, consumers and children as well as the members of Nebraska Cattlewomen who put an incredible amount of time into setting up the events. As a beef ambassador I do school visits, trade show events, as well as media interviews. Another requirement to qualify for nationals is the creation and execution of a special beef project. For my project I have written a children's book on beef production from "pasture to plate." The book is in the printing process now and I plan to have over 2,000 books distributed to Nebraska classrooms this fall.
5. What do you think should be the top priorities of people in the beef industry going forward?
I think the top priority of people in the beef industry going forward has to be transparency. We have a growing population of people who want to know where there food comes from and what goes into it. As an industry we don't have anything to hide, everything we do is done for a good reason and is based on sound science. As producers we need to tackle these issues head on and be willing and ready to share our stories.
6. What challenges do you think the industry needs to be prepared for?
As a whole I think the industry needs to be prepared for higher regulation, we are seeing a good example of that currently with the Veterinary Feed Directive being put into action. In my opinon that higher regulation will not be going away, so we need to embrace it as an opportunity to show the general public that we are doing our jobs right and we are willing to prove it.
7. What are your future plans?
After graduating from UNL I plan to attend graduate school in Ruminant Nutrition. I hope to work in the beef industry focusing on cow/calf nutrition and management of reproduction. In addition, I want to continue to grow my personal herd and continue to raise and sell registered Red Angus bulls.