For the second year in a row, the Nebraska Beef Council hosted the Beef Leadership Experience in and around Kearney, January 15-19. Five college students had the opportunity to attend the weeklong experience, where they get to see behind the scenes of the cattle industry in many ways.
Participants this year included Mattison Beattie of Sumner; Ainsley Fischer of Franktown, Colorado; Jaylea Pope of Ravenna; Noah Summers of Gibbon; and Emelia Rourke of Waverly. All attendees are currently college students studying animal science at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
The Beef Leadership Experience was a great way for students interested in the beef industry to gain a better understanding of all the segments and working parts that go into supplying beef to consumers from pasture to plate. It also allowed the students to learn about the work of the Beef Checkoff from nutrition education, advertising, promotion and beef research.
Mattison Beattie reflected on how practical the experience was for her.
“This was one on my favorite industry experiences,” said Beattie. “We gained a load of useful knowledge and were able to build strong relationships with fellow students, industry leaders and the Beef Council staff.”
Since much of the work within the industry is done behind the scenes, this opportunity allowed the students to experience first-hand how a feedlot operates, the process at a packing plant, the beef product distribution logistics, and how consumers purchase beef at a grocery store. Having a broader understanding of the entire beef supply chain will hopefully help the students be better prepared for their future careers.
Nebraska Beef Council Director of Nutrition and Education Mitch Rippe helped with consumer information and shopping for a beef-based meal that the students prepared themselves. Rippe said this year’s group of students was great to work with.
“Students were surprised and impressed by the back-end of things that they were never really aware of before,” said Rippe. “They leaned in heavily to the Ag advocacy standpoint and enjoyed listening to Jesse Fulton about BQA and Chandler Mulvaney at NCBA (a contractor to the Nebraska Beef Council).”
The Beef Leadership Experience is also a way that the industry is preparing for the future. The need for volunteers to fill leadership roles continues to increase as many beef producers are approaching retirement. Whether the students want to go back to the ranch, work within the supply chain, or become advocates and communication specialists, it’s essential that they be involved in the organizations that protect and pave the future for the industry.