South Dakota Beef Ambassadors selected |

South Dakota Beef Ambassadors selected

The South Dakota Beef Ambassador Contest was held at the Huron Convention Center on July 22, 2011, in conjunction with the South Dakota Summer Spotlight Show. This beef-checkoff sponsored program is hosted by the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) and tests young beef industry advocates from across the state, and after a tough competition, junior and senior winners were selected.

The contest consists of two age groups including juniors, ages 12-16, and seniors, ages 17-20. The contestants competed and were evaluated in four different categories. The participants answered tough questions in a media interview, handed out beef samples in a mock consumer beef promotion, responded to a negative article in the New York Times with a letter to the editor and completed a personal interview where they shared lesson plans they developed for an ag-in-the-classroom program for kids. These four areas show the judges how the contestants are able to share their beef story, interact with consumers, react to news articles, and present educational materials to elementary students.

Taking top honors in the junior division was Kaley Nolz of Mitchell, who received a cash prize of $200. Second place junior was Kiera Leddy of Stockholm. Leddy also took home the overall top consumer panel prize.

Earning the 2011-2012 South Dakota Beef Ambassador title was Courtney Nolz of Mitchell, who received a cash prize of $500, plus an all-expense paid trip to the 2011 National Beef Ambassador Contest in Wooster, OH, on Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Nolz is an active 4-H and FFA member, and her parents, Dave and Peggy, raise Limousin cattle.

A second senior division winner, Chelsey Cahoon of Beresford, was selected to represent South Dakota at the 2012 National Competition. This will allow Cahoon a full year to prepare for nationals, whereas in previous years, South Dakota contestants only had a few short months to practice before the contest.

Nolz is a sophomore at South Dakota State University (SDSU) studying Spanish and Entrepreneurial Studies, and she is excited about her term as an ambassador.

“I’m honored to be chosen as the 2011 South Dakota Beef Ambassador and look forward to working with people of all ages and sharing my beef story with consumers,” said Nolz, who won the junior title in 2006. “This program offers young people so many great opportunities, and it will allow me to grow and become the best beef advocate that I can be.”

Nolz plans on visiting elementary schools to talk with students about the new USDA MyPlate, an updated version of the Food Guide Pyramid and how lean beef fits into a healthy diet. Nolz is also a member of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Auxiliary and takes part in promotional activities with the group.

Cahoon is a senior at Beresford High School, and plans to pursue a nursing degree and go into the ROTC.

“I’m excited to be a state beef ambassador, and I can’t wait to travel and meet new people,” said Cahoon, who grew up raising and showing Simmental cattle. “I look forward to learning more about the beef industry along the way.

Kaley Nolz is a freshman at Mitchell High School and is very active in 4-H. Each year, she helps with the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce Ag-In-The-Classroom event, where she brings in a baby calf and talks about life on a ranch. Naturally her youth presentation focuses on that message, as well as sharing facts about beef nutrition and beef by-products.

“By-products of beef touch our lives every single day,” Nolz explained. “I chose to do my presentation on by-products because most people are unaware of how many things we use that come from beef like crayons, deodorant and even asphalt for our roadways.”

While this contest focuses on youth, students are given an opportunity to network throughout the competition. Industry professionals who helped select the winners included: Jody Heemstra, KWAT; Laurie Johnson, agriculture education instructor at Lake Area Technical Institute; Pam Geppert, Dakota Farm Talk; Kayla Aman, registered dietitian from Hy-Vee in Brookings; Sarah Jorgensen, livestock specialist from the SD Department of Ag; Julie Feldhaus, Judie Blindauer, and Sue Sibson, all SD Cattlemen’s Auxiliary members; Connie Smith, agriculture journalist from Montrose; Cayla Christiansen, membership and communications coordinator for SD Cattlemen’s Association; Heidi Kool, office manager for SD Cattlemen’s Association; Tracey Orsburn, compliance officer and program assistant for the SDBIC; and Taylor Geppert, 2010 SD Beef Ambassador.

The Beef Ambassador program teaches youth to become advocates for the industry, which is evident in their efforts to respond to negative articles in the media, reach out to consumers, educate young people and share the beef story. Look for great things from these young members of the beef industry. Learn more about the competition, and the beef industry at

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