Five Lessons from “April”

Last weekend marked a full year I had spent washing, blow-drying, working with, traveling, and showing my Maine-Anjou heifer “April.” I am so blessed to have had this experience with such a fun-loving animal that taught me so much along the way. As I reflect back on the year-long adventure there are five main things that “April” taught me that I would like to share with all of you!

  1. Patience: Bringing home a stubborn little calf proved to be more work than I originally expected. I had never worked with an animal that had such a different personality as this little calf. She soon developed the name “Princess” because she would only eat out of a blue pan, she only walked in one direction around my practice show ring, and she only liked being worked with my lime green show stick. To say the least, she developed her own “wants and needs” as did I, learning to be patient when working with her to make sure she cooperated for me.

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    Showing “April” for the first time

  2. Hard work does payoff: Showing her throughout Ohio’s winter show circuit, every weekend brought new experiences. I finally knew the two of us had developed a relationship between showman and animal when she finally listened and cooperated at our Beef Expo allowing us to make the cut into the next round of showmanship classes. This was a turning point in our relationship and helped me realize my patience and cooperation with her had paid dividends.

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    Showing “April” for the last time on the green shavings at the North American International Livestock Expedition in Kentucky

  3. The importance of friendships: The most rewarding aspects of showing cattle are the friendships that develop throughout the show stock experience. Traveling the winter show circuit allowed me the opportunity to meet and connect with many people that I now call my life-long friends!

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    “April” and “Cameal”-two friends from the start laying in the sun at the last winter show

  4. The importance of family: Showing cattle is a family activity to me and I am so blessed to come from such a supportive family and showing the past year has allowed me to bond with my parents and older brother more. My dad and I picked “April” out together as a calf and traveled to the majority of the shows together throughout the year. Getting to spend this “daddy-daughter” time together is something irreplaceable. Driving in snow storms, getting lost taking back roads because of the directions from the GPS, and spending a week together at the Junior Heifer Show in Kentucky are memories that will never be forgotten.

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    My dad helping me comb the hair up one last time before entering the show ring

  5. The unbreakable bond between a girl and her heifer: Throughout the year, I have been able to create an unbreakable bond between “April” and I. What an amazing year it was filled with times of learning, family, tears of defeat, smiles of wins, and most importantly a “book full of memories and experiences” gained over the past year; showing this heifer has truly been such a reward.

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    Taking a moment to capture a “close-up” at the county fair

I have my family to thank for driving me the many miles over Ohio and Kentucky to fulfill my dreams of showing the same heifer for a full year; this year would not have been possible without their loving and supportive attitudes! I want to dedicate this blog to my “Princess” who has allowed me to have an experience of a life-time and taught me so much along the way.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Demi

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Capturing a first place class win at The Ohio State Fair!

Welcome to the Farm!

“Welcome to the farm
Where you can roll your windows down
Baby, take my arm
Ain’t hearin’ nothin’ such a beautiful sound?”

I love our gentle giants, this is Red Pepper!

I love our gentle giants, this is Mr. Red Pepper!

Welcome to the farm! My name is Rachel Purdy, and I am from the Cowboy State of Wyoming. Specifically, my home town of Pine Bluffs is in the very southeastern corner of Wyoming. I am currently attending the University of Wyoming, and majoring in Agricultural Business. My goal after I graduate is to pursue work in agricultural policy or trade to protect the interests of the hard working farmers and ranchers of the United States.

A big part of my life is my family. I am proud to say I come from a fourth generation family farm. We raise hay, cattle, and a variety of different crops. I could not even begin to image how different my life would be without working on the farm with my family by my side. My older brother, Garrett, has chosen to come back to the farm to be the next generation. I could not be more proud of him.

My family

My lovely family! My parents and my older brother, Garrett

I was fortunate enough to be a “farm kid” growing up. I learned love for the land and livestock from a very young age. My best friend growing up was a goat named Buck. I have been very blessed to have the pleasure of having horses in my life as well. My horses, Rapper and Kernel, are the lights of my life. They have taught me more about myself than I ever could have thought possible. I also am a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady. I found my cat, Kaya, orphaned as a tiny kitten in our barn. She is and always will be my baby.

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Buck, the best friend a girl could ask for

My passion has always been agriculture. There is something special about the commitment and dedication agriculturalists have that makes me want to be involved in this industry. Within agriculture, I have always loved the beef community. Some of my best childhood memories involve riding in an old pickup with my dad to go check or feed the cows. I feel very honored and humbled with the opportunity to represent beef producers across the United States and to serve as a member of the 2015 National Beef Ambassador team.

7 Things You Need To Know About Kalyn

I am Kalyn Marie McKibben. I am native of Wyandotte, Oklahoma, population 339.

I am Kalyn Marie McKibben. I am a native of Wyandotte, Oklahoma, population 339.

1. I love Beef.

My overwhelming love for beef goes much deeper than the meat. I have the incredible blessing of being a fifth-generation agriculture producer. Throughout my life I have fallen head-over-heels for the beef community. I love the lifestyle. I love the taste. I love the values. And I love the people. 

Life without cattle would be boring.

2. I am a real person.

Even though it seems like all I do is eat, sleep and breathe beef, I do indeed enjoy “normal” things too. I love spending time with family and friends, shopping on the weekends, watching black and white romantic comedies (that actually might not be normal) and making midnight ice cream trips (chocolate almond and peanut butter cup are my favorites).

Beef selfies are always appropriate.

Beef selfies are always appropriate.

3. I am “disabled”.

When I was eleven, I was in a severe horse accident while checking cattle and lost my right eye. Even though I am considered “disabled” by the world’s standards, I am so blessed with the opportunity to still be on this earth. I cannot be more humbled to have the chance to live out my passion every single day and tell the beef story!

 

"Bashful Baby"  I love to capture the beauty of the beef community in pictures.

“Bashful Baby”
I love to capture the beauty of the beef community in pictures.

4. Awkward is my middle name.

I am blessed with the incredible talent of making awkward situations even more awkward. Some may consider it a curse, but I consider it a gift. Life is far too short to miss the little things in life that make us laugh and make life worth living. So smile, be yourself and embrace every single breath you are given.

Dad and I just after loading a group of cattle!

Dad and I just after loading a group of cattle. I am “Little Lyndon”. I am so thankful for the incredible example he has set for me in the beef industry as well as in life.

5. I love people.

We are all so different, yet in many ways we are the same. I love listening to people tell their stories. I have a very special place in my heart for senior adults. We can learn so much by taking a moment to listen to their wisdom. In everything I do, I want to invest in people. We all have something to say, and I want to hear your voice.

McKibben Farms, LLC is a commercial cow-calf operation in northeast Oklahoma. My family works hard to make sure we are doing everything we can to make cattle comfortable in extreme weather conditions.

6.  My family is my everything.

I am who I am because of my amazing family. I am the youngest of three children. Some of my fondest memories have been made while working cattle, building fence, roping calves, feeding cows and just cowing around with my family. You could say they are one reason I am so in love with the beef industry. I learned the importance of responsibility, work-ethic, patience, and passion all by working alongside my family members on the ranch.

My gorgeous family! Thomas (brother), Katie (sister-in-law), Mama, Daddy, Christine (sister), and Bobby (brother-in-law).

My gorgeous family! Thomas (brother), Katie (sister-in-law), Mama, Daddy, Christine (sister), and Bobby (brother-in-law).

7. My future plans.

I do not wish to bore you with details, so I will keep them brief. I am currently a junior at Oklahoma State University studying Animal Science and Agriculture Economics. My career plans are to be a professional cattle industry advocate and producer.

 

Follow me on Instagram (kalynmckibben) to see more of my beef story!

God bless, folks!

 

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe

That Texas Girl Who Didn’t Grow Up on a Ranch!

Howdy Y’all!

If that greeting doesn’t scream, “I am a Texas Aggie!,” I don’t know what does! I attend Texas A&M University, here in College Station, TX, where I major in Animal Science, with dreams of running a successful show cattle operation and possibly advocating for beef on Capital Hill (but who knows, I’m in college, I’m allowed to change my career path multiple times!).

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Unlike many of my colleagues, I am not a native Texan, in fact I am a transplant from Arizona. Being the only child of my parents, Royce and Jackie Smith, I have always had an abundance of support for what I do, including deciding to raise cattle. My Mom came from a ranching operation, but did not pursue the lifestyle, and my Dad chose a career in mining. So, I did not grow up in a barn, or spend summers on the ranch; I was just the opposite, and moved around to a lot of different suburban neighborhoods. However, I did have an undying love for horses, which, in a roundabout way led me to raising cattle.

Last summer, my family moved to Sonoita, Arizona, which consists of a stop sign, two gas stations, the fairgrounds and a handful of stores. If you blinked twice, you would miss the whole town! Despite its general lack of entertainment and liveliness, Sonoita makes for a rather nice place to visit, and a particularly nice area to raise cattle! This is where my small herd of three cows resides, under the care of my wonderful Mom. My operation is called Ace Club Calves, with a primary focus on raising genetically sound, productive and efficient type cattle for show purposes. This grew from a 4-H market steer project, and has since blossomed into a very fun, very expensive hobby for my family (my parents REALLY love spending all their vacation at cattle shows!).

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Showing at Arizona Nationals

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Best Place to Nap at a Show!

 

As you can see, I did not come from a strong ranching background, nor do I have funny stories to tell about being raised in a barn, but I do have an acquired love for the cattle industry, and all those that are in it. I am extremely passionate about sharing the rancher’s story and showing the general public the kind of amazing people that raise their food.

Thanks and Gig Em’

Alicia

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Momma Julie and our newest baby, Elsie

Putting a Little “Dirt” in my Country Girl Life

“You get your hands in it, plant your roots in it, dusty headlights dance with your boots in it, (dirt)”

Growing up on the family farm, I was the little girl that tagged behind my parents in my little red dress and white bonnet eagerly ready to help feed the baby calves, bed the pens, and play tractors in the dirt with my older brother.

Loving farm life from the beginning!

Loving farm life from the beginning!

A native from the great state of Ohio, my name is Demi Snider, and I am truly at my happy place “behind country roads, with the mud on my jeans to peel off and hang up…”

I am sure many of you recognize Florida Georgia Line’s recent song “Dirt.” As I listen to the lyrics of this song, I cannot help but smile at the words that coincide with how I grew up as a country girl.

As a sixth generation farmer, summers for me were filled with 4-H projects, cooking in the kitchen with my mom, running the country roads to stay in shape for the cross country season, staying up late unloading straw bales and preparing for the week-long family vacation at the county fair.

Starting showing cattle at the time I was able to walk, I began my show ring career showing Holstein heifers. I was born into a dairy farm, but shortly after my first birthday, my family sold out of the dairy cows and quickly switched to raising dairy steers. At the time my brother was old enough to start 4-H, we bought our first beef cow and from there our herd has grown into 50 Maine-Anjou cows, show heifers, steers, and a handful of Shorthorn heifers to add some color in the barn full of coal black cows. As a family we also grain farm; corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, and hay.

My first year in 4-H showing my heifer "Lilly"

My first year in 4-H showing my heifer “Lilly”

 

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My last year in 4-H showing my heifer “April”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“That plowed up land that your dad has his luck on…” Growing up a farmer’s daughter was nothing but lessons, memories, and fun. Learning to drive the skid loader as my first “car”, looking forward to sunny days to drive the tractor in fourth gear raking the hay, and bundling up on frigid winter nights to walk out to the barn to check a calving cow are things that make me appreciate the country life I have been fortunate to call my own.

“This elm shade tree, red clay I grew up on…” is what I call home. Growing up across from my grandparents, using my imagination to make straw houses with my brother in the hay mow, and spending hours every day washing and drying my 4-H beef heifers are found memories that I have from growing up.

The place I call home

The place I call home

Majoring in Agricultural Communications with a minor in Youth Development at The Ohio State University makes me so blessed to come from an agricultural background where I have been able to grown and learn about the beef industry.

I am so honored and excited to spend this upcoming year promoting and educating others about the industry that I am so passionate about. Representing the numerous numbers of beef producers telling our story will be such a rewarding experience! I look forward to this upcoming year as I have the opportunity to connect to a variety of people throughout the promotional events to come!

“You know you came from it, and someday you’ll return to it… (dirt).”

Have a blessed week!

Demi

10 Lessons I Learned as a National Beef Ambassador

I think it goes without question that my year as a National Beef Ambassador changed my life. Don’t believe me? A quick peek at my social media pages will help you see how much of a priority beef has truly become in my world. From simply  growing up on an Angus cattle farm in central Ohio, to having an immeasurable love and appreciation for beef cattle production all around the globe, it’s safe to say that beef production will forever intrigue me. Although I plan to never stop learning about the beef community, this year has certainly taught me a few valuable lessons. Here are the top ten things that I have learned from my year as a National Beef Ambassador.

10. Blue Cheese is delicious; especially on top of a steak!

Telling our beef story at the National Cattlemen's Convention in Nashville.

Telling our beef story at the National Cattlemen’s Convention in Nashville.

9. The beef community doesn’t need advocates, it needs story tellers.

8. Asking a person what  questions they have will get you twice as far as telling them the answer to a question you assume they have.

7. Delaware Valley College is actually no where near Delaware… it’s in Pennsylvania.

6. It is 100% possible for college students to enjoy beef on a budget.

5. Blogging was surprisingly awesome! I’m excited to say I never missed a single entry.

4. Airplanes and airports generate some of the most interesting conversations about beef; talk about a “captive” audience!

Promoting East Coast beef production at the Pennsylvania Farm Show

Promoting East Coast beef production at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

3. It doesn’t matter what “kind” of beef a producer decides to raise, whether it is conventional, organic, natural, grass-finished or grain-finished. Beef is beef, and all areas of the beef community should support and praise one another for providing such a wholesome and delicious product to a variety of consumer groups.

2. The young people in today’s industry are going to continue to make progressive and innovative changes to the beef community and agriculture, as a whole. I am so impressed by the ambitions and goals that today’s young agriculturalists have set for themselves, and I look forward to crossing paths with them again one day.

 

A selfie taken by the 2014 team on our final day as National Beef Ambassadors.

A selfie taken by the 2014 team on our final day as National Beef Ambassadors.

And #1…
1. No matter where life takes me, I will always be devoted to, and connected with, the beef community.

The experiences, lessons, and memories from this past year will continue to drive my passion for the beef community. While I close this chapter of my journey, I can’t wait to see what my next beefy adventure will entail!

Thanks for tuning in!

All For the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

What to Expect as a National Beef Ambassador

Our team had an incredible time in Denver this weekend where we retired as the 2014 National Beef Ambassador Team. We had some amazing experiences this year, and we are so excited to see what is in store for the new team.

For our retiring address, our team created a video which allowed us to share the wisdom that we acquired throughout our year and addressed some struggles that the 2015 team, and all state beef ambassadors, may encounter during their time advocating for the beef community.  We hope that you enjoy this reflection of our year!

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=806864272697299&set=vb.100001212001872&type=2&theater&notif_t=video_processed

All For the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Get Ready for the 2015 Contest

Wow! I can’t believe I am writing a blog for the 2015 contest, it seems like just yesterday it was the 2014 National Beef Ambassador Contest, but what a year it has been.  Some of my best memories were made at the contest.  So contestants get ready for an AWESOME weekend ahead of you.

Don’t be nervous.  I know I was very nervous when I left Texas to head to the contest, but don’t be.  The judges are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.  Have confidence in yourself and know you can do it.

Don’t stress about the last minute facts.  I will say, I spent a large amount of my time at the contest studying.  Of all the things I studied the weekend of the contest I don’t think I used any of it.  The important thing is how you communicate the information.

Show your personality.  Consumers want to be able to relate to you, be happy and show them you care what they think.  Each of the team members this year have an awesome personality and it makes it really easy for us to engage with consumers on any level.

Share your story.  This one is so important.  Growing up in or around the beef community gives you so many stories and experiences. Those stories are so valuable, SHARE THEM!

Above all HAVE FUN!!!!! The contest was so much fun last year for me and I hope it will be for you as well.  Not only was it fun, but I met some amazing friends that I can share my passion for the beef community with.  For five of you it will start an experience of a lifetime.

Beef & Blessings,

Justana

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Campus Events: My Ambassador Capstone Project

For me, campus events have been the most rewarding part of my year as a National Beef Ambassador. Having the opportunity to engage with students who are in the same walks of life as I am and be able to understand where they are coming from when they express their concerns about nutrition or environmental sustainability has certainly created a platform to have a meaningful conversation about beef. Below are the top 5 reasons why I believe University campus events have been the most valuable part of my National Beef Ambassador experience and why they will ultimately reap the most benefit for the beef community.

Anya and Stacy did an excellent job at planning and executing their Cornell "Beefapolouza."

Anya and Stacy did an excellent job at planning and executing their Cornell “Beefapolouza.”

1. The event coordinators gained valuable life skills such as how to plan an event, be detail oriented, coordinate volunteers, educate peers and effectively share their passions. In addition, we as the coordinators strengthened a few of our soft skills such as being patient, effectively communicating ideas, problem solving, and being assertive to accomplish time-sensitive tasks. These are all skills that will be necessary for us to be successful in our future careers in agriculture.

2. The campus events turned volunteers into advocates. By taking students who may or may not have had a background with beef cattle, furthering their knowledge on the beef community, and giving them an outlet to share that information with their peers, we have not only deepened their understanding of our own industry, but we have excited them to continually want to learn and share more. By transforming beef supporters into beef advocates, we are ensuring that our industry will have a strong voice in years to come.

Ohio State's "Ask a Cattlewoman" table was a place were students could have a conversation about beef on any topic they wanted to learn more about.

Ohio State’s “Ask a Cattlewoman” table was a place were students could have a conversation about beef on any topic they wanted to learn more about.

3. We knocked down barriers with millennials and created an atmosphere that was welcoming for students to ask questions and receive honest answers. College students understand that a group of individuals would not come and set up an event in the middle of their campus unless they  believed that they had something valuable to share. Students were excited to hear what we had to say and to engage in the activities, rather than simply looking for a free handout. Students are at college to learn, and any opportunity to learn from their peers is one that they were willing to take.

4. The conversations that I had with students and faculty members were the most genuine of all the events that I have been to. While our outlooks may have differed, the people I engaged with were able to share the same general concerns as I have about finances, nutrition, and what we should eat and how we should cook it. These similarities are ultimately what were able to establish credibility with the audience and allowed us to have a real conversation about what it is about beef that they loved or questioned the most.

5. Every event was unique to the campus that we were visiting. By catering to the demographic and geographic location of each individual campus, we were able to create a different atmosphere in each state that was individualized for it’s students and campus layout. The reason that many of our beef promotion techniques have failed in the past to reach millennials is that they are too “cookie-cutter.” As a millennial myself, I know that my peers and I appreciate creativity and authenticity, and that is exactly what campus events were able to do by being created by students, for students.

These campus events have been the capstone project of my year as a National Beef Ambassador. Overall, I truly believe that our interactions with students and university faculty at our campus promotions will have the most long-term impact on those that our team was able to interact with. From our peers that we spoke with, to the volunteers, and even the event coordinators, everyone involved was able to learn something new about beef and play a role in increasing beef demand and sharing a positive message about the beef community. In my opinion, there was truly no better way to reach the millennial generation than by taking the beef right to their back door. I am so grateful to see all the beef buzz that was able to be generated simply by the power of college students connecting with college students.

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

“Awesome Agriculture- Beef Cattle- an A to Z book” Book review

As  a Beef Ambassador I promote beef to all ages.  As part of my competition preparation last summer, I used this book to educate some young beef consumers all about Beef.

This book uses the alphabet to highlight all aspects of the beef industry and lots of info about beef cattle.  From defining agriculture, pictures of breeds, and explaining sources of beef cattle feed, this book has lots of pictures for youngers to really learn about where their food comes from.  There is even a recipe activity to make a tasty snack using beef.

My favorite pictures has to be the mama and calf, so sweet!  If you are working with children, reading a book with pictures is a wonderful way to help them learn about agriculture and the beef industry.  Check with your library, university extension office or order here.

Always learning about beef,

 

Rachael