North Dakota, Nebraska college students launch beef projects
Beef it’s what’s for dinner, and beef is going to stay on the menu thanks to the tireless efforts of the American National CattleWomen’s (ANCW) Collegiate Beef Advocates.
Similar to ANCW’s previous project, the National Beef Ambassador Program, the revamped Collegiate Beef Advocacy Program recently announced its 2017 winners at the Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn. After a rigorous online application process, which required college students to submit an essay and four-minute video demonstrating their leadership skills and identifying three social media project ideas, three winners were selected to begin an exciting year of promoting beef on the collegiate level.
The 2017 winners include McKenzie Smith, a student at Utah State University (USU) studying agribusiness; Elisabeth Loseke, an animal science major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL); and Haley Goodall, who is studying animal science at Oklahoma State University (OSU). All three received a $2,000 scholarship courtesy of program sponsor, Farm Credit Services of America.
“This is our first year back up and running with the Collegiate Beef Advocacy Program, and this new program focuses on advocacy on college campuses,” said Evelyn Brown, ANCW program manager. “We have four trips already scheduled for the year, as well as some internship opportunities.”
Throughout the year, the advocates will work with professional industry mentors to develop a beef advocacy program on their college campuses. The goal, Brown says, is to help these youth leaders develop their passion for beef advocacy by providing training, resources and experiences with the hopes that they will one day be the voice for the beef industry.
With the spring semester in full swing, the Beef Advocates are already busy with their campus projects, and they are excited to promote the beef cattle industry they are so passionate about.
For Loseke, daughter of Ryan and June Loseke of Columbus, Neb., the UNL campus offers a unique opportunity to advocate for agriculture with her urban peers.
“UNL has two campus — an agricultural campus and a city campus,” said Loseke. “My goal is to take agriculture to the city campus, and I’m planning to have a booth in the city student union where students like to hang out. Myself, along with the two new Nebraska Beef Ambassadors, plan to serve samples of beef to students and survey them about their beef preferences. We’ll have recipe books with meal ideas the students can make in less than 30 minutes, and later, we’ll have a big cookout and provide food and information about where their food comes from.”
Loseke will graduate this spring, and she plans to continue her education to ultimately become a food animal veterinarian.
“As people question the ethicality of where their food comes from, I’m passionate about showing people the side of agriculture they can’t always see, like the rancher who cares for his calves in the middle of the night while most people are sleeping,” said Loseke. “Being a veterinarian one day will hopefully add to my credibility when I talk to consumers. Our current USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue is a veterinarian, and while I don’t see myself holding a political office, I would love to serve as a liaison between producers, consumers and legislators in discussions about regulations impacting the food animal industry.”
In her role as a Collegiate Beef Advocate, Goodall, daughter of Brooks and Michelle Goodall of Belden, N.D., plans to update the Eat Beef Week held on campus each year at OSU.
“Currently, Eat Beef Week has been mostly limited to our collegiate club, but this year, we’ll be taking the event to the student union, passing out beef sticks, answering questions, hosting a Facebook trivia and Twitter chat, and doing a Cooking with Beef event where collegiate members can bring a friend, and we’ll teach them to cook with beef,” said Goodall. “Today, people are more and more disconnected with agriculture, so if we can show them what we do on our farms and ranches, that’s something I would really like to be a part of.”
The animal science major realizes more and more that young people want to stay in production agriculture, but there are some challenges for her generation that she thinks the Collegiate Beef Advocacy Program can address.
“Agriculture is in a transition phase right now, and I think my generation is feeling the difficulties of staying involved,” she said. “I think making an effort to speak with both the younger and older generations involved in agriculture could help bridge some gaps and facilitate discussions about what it would take for the next generation to stay in agriculture. This program is great in doing just that. We have mentors who offer advice and help guide us through issues we might face as a younger generation in agriculture. If it can help keep the next generation engaged, that’s fantastic! I’m looking forward to this year of beef advocacy.”
In Utah, Smith is hustling to bring a collegiate cattlemen’s club to her campus at USU.
“I saw the need for our campus to have a collegiate group, and this felt like a good opportunity to bring the program here,” said Smith. “We are also working to bring the advocacy program back to the state level with the help of the Utah Beef Ambassador Program. Additionally, the new Utah Collegiate Beef Cattle Club, will be sponsored by the Utah Cattlemen’s Association, Utah CattleWomen, and the Utah beef Council, and we have plans for a state internship, as well. I grew up in the beef industry my whole life, and I’ve been involved in the beef ambassador program since I was in high school. I’m very passionate about sharing the beef production story with consumers. I love the cattle business, and I hope to continue to be involved in this industry in my future career.”
As the program manager, Brown is also getting involved with advocacy projects, and she’s started a pilot project called, “Beef Brunch,” which includes a cooking component while teaching attendees what farmers and ranchers produce and how it gets to the table.
While these beef leaders are just getting started in their 2017 term, ANCW is already planning ahead for 2018. Applications for next year’s contest will be due in the fall. For more information on the contest, email ANCW.CBAP@gmail.com.