South Dakota Beef Ambassador reflects on year of service
The South Dakota Beef Ambassador program has gained a lot of attention over the years, as young people wearing sharp red shirts travel the state promoting beef. Sponsored by the beef checkoff program and the South Dakota Beef Industry Council. The 2012-13 South Dakota Beef Ambassador is Emma Christensen from Milbank, S.D. She reflected on her year of service as her time as ambassador comes to an end.
“Serving as ambassador has been an amazing experience,” she said. “I thought that I was fairly in tune with our industry when I won the contest, but my eyes have been opened so much wider through this experience! Interacting with both consumers and producers is very educational because you are directly dealing with both the people related most directly to the pasture as well as the plate. I have also had so many amazing opportunities and met many great people in the industry who I am excited to continue learning from.”
Christensen traveled across the state to elementary schools, industry meetings, fairs and other events such as Cheeseburger Day, SDSU’s Beef Bowl and Sanford’s Heart Healthy “Eat Beef” events. Of these events, Christensen believes having an ambassador present helps boost beef demand and support the state’s cattlemen. “As ambassador, I believe that my main job is to act as a bridge of communication between producers and consumers,” she explained. “Being a producer myself, I understand the importance of consumer education in order for consumers to buy our product. I could not be prouder to be a voice in the beef industry.”
Not only did she work hard to promote beef, but Christensen also had a year she will never forget.
“I absolutely love visiting schools and teaching students about the importance of beef,” she added. “The best memories of interacting with students would definitely include a great group of second graders playing BEEF BINGO and discovering by-products right in their classroom. I also helped at 4th Grade Day at the fairgrounds, where I was able to talk to over 100 Sioux Falls students, most of whom had never visited a farm. The students actually got to interact with my Hereford calf, Matilda.”
Christensen is keeping busy working at home this summer and showing her calves. She will be a sophomore at South Dakota State University this fall, where she is studying animal science with a business specialization and marketing minor. She is involved in Block & Bridle, Little International and LeadState. She hopes to join Sigma Alpha in the fall, which is a sorority geared toward women in agriculture. Ultimately, she is keeping an open mind about her future but she expects her career will involve her favorite protein.
“I intend to remain a voice in the beef industry, possibly working in genetics or as a nutritionist. I would also love to work for a company such as Ranch House Designs of Focus Marketing Group, designing sale catalogs and promotional items for producers – once again being a voice of the producers. I am excited to build a great career in agriculture, particularly the beef industry.”
She offered advice to the next beef ambassador who will have to fill her shoes.
“I am so very excited to serve as a resource for the next ambassador on any questions he or she may have. But, what I would really like to stress to them is to make the most of their year, it does seem like a long time, but it goes way too fast! Do lots of events and show your passion for beef. This is such an awesome way to make a name for yourself in the industry, don’t let that opportunity slip away!”
The South Dakota Beef Ambassador Contest will be held on July 25, at the Crossroads Hotel and Huron Event Center. The contest is open to youth ages 8-20. The registration deadline is July 12. Visit http://www.sdbeef.org for more information.