Beef Ambassador PACT

I have some great news to start your Monday! Your National Beef Ambassador Team will be sharing a five part blog series with you, starting today. As you may know, our time as beef ambassador’s is coming to an end at the end of the month when we travel to Arkansas for the National Beef Ambassador Contest. I know we are all sad to see our time coming to an end, but absolutely thrilled to see the next group of leaders for the beef community! We would like to use this series to use our experiences throughout the past year to explain what qualities we believe makes a good beef ambassador!

Last year at this time I was extremely nervous that I didn’t have what it would take to make it on to the national team. Fortunately, my performance at the competition earned me a spot on the team and I have spent the past year realizing what skills it is that makes me a valuable asset to our team! What I have discovered, is the PACT is what

PRIDE is the first part of the pact. Whenever anyone asks me why I dedicate so much time to my role as a beef ambassador, my answer is always the same. I love what I do and am proud to have the opportunity to share my story with others! Growing up in the farming community introduced me to many wonderful people and I am proud to be associated with this hardworking, trustworthy group of people!

A is for ACTION. Many people have pride, but a good beef ambassador needs to use that pride to fuel their actions. Wear beef gear, run a race for team beef, post pictures of your farm to facebook or instagram, or talk to people around you about beef! Our pride will get us no where if we aren’t able to step up and take action to share our story!

The CONFIDENCE necessary to be a good beef ambassador can often be daunting. There are many adversaries to the beef community, and they aren’t afraid to share their opinion. At times, I find myself being pushed down by their messages and am afraid to stand back up to keep sharing our story. But, in the end we have a great story to tell and we need the confidence to stand back up and keep sharing our story.

TRUTH is the final aspect of the beef pact. The most valuable tool we have as a beef community is our honest story, because it is a great one. Like everyone, we are not perfect. But, we have a great record of fixing our mistakes and finding ways to improve in everything we do. If asked about past mistakes, we all need to have the bravery to admit to our imperfections but remember to recognize the great improvements we have made. For example, we have had cases of E. coli in our product, but we have also gone on to invest around $550 million on research and technology to prevent beef from these types of illnesses.

I hope that we can all remember constantly dedicate ourselves to the PACT of beef ambassadors. I hope you all enjoy the rest of our series this week!

Until Next Time,
Erin

Beef as an Ingredient

Often times we think of beef as the main course, a juicy steak filling up our plate. I myself love a good steak for supper (three ounces is the proper serving size!) But, while Chandler and I were at the New York State Fair we learned another way to think about beef in our diet- as an ingredient.

As a college student the concept of beef as an ingredient is thrilling! This is a cost effective, delicious way to incorporate all of the nutrients found in beef to our diets! One common way to do this is with ground beef recipes (remember to cook your ground beef to 160 degrees). One of my favorite ground beef recipes is this recipe for Cheese Burger Mac because it combines my two favorite things- beef and macaroni and cheese!
http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/recipe.aspx?id=1721

You don’t have to just use ground beef though! There are many great recipes that use muscle cuts, like your favorite stir fry recipe! I absolutely love fajitas, and this is a great recipe http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/recipe.aspx?id=1455

If you are interested in finding some more delicious meals that incorporate beef as an ingredient you need to check out my favorite website, www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com There is an awesome feature that allows you to search their database of recipes! Happy cooking 🙂

Until Next Time,
Erin Morrison

Three T’s of Grilling

As I’m sure you saw from Chandler’s blog, we had a great time in New York! I had some great conversations about beef recipes and life on the family farm. The best part of the week was doing cooking demonstrations on our culinary stage. One of the greatest things I learned was the three t’s of grilling! Even though we are in September, there is plenty of grilling season left, so I’m going to share with you these great reminders!

Tongs- I am 100% guilty of using a fork to flip my steaks on the grill. But, whenever we do this we lose delicious juices from our steaks. An easy way to avoid this problem is to use tongs to flip our meat and keep the juices in!

Temperature- Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all use our mental powers to instantly know the temperature of our beef? Well I know that I can’t, and I’m sure a lot of other people can’t either. Fortunately meat thermometers help us do just that! They are a great way to measure the temperature of your meat and make sure your cooking it the way you want.

Time- This is the hardest rule for me to follow because I am so impatient. If you want to make sure you’re cooking your beef to perfection you need to stop cooking your beef about five degrees before your desired temperature and tent the beef with tinfoil to let it finish cooking. This takes time and patience, but really helps with the finished product!

I hope you are able to use these grilling tips the next time you cook some steaks!

Until Next Time,
Erin

Bringing Beef to New York

New York- Home to Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park and now the National Beef Ambassador Team! Chandler and I flew into Syracuse New York on Saturday night and have been having a blast ever since! Sunday was our first day at the New York State Fair and we have already had many great conversations! While here, we will be doing cooking demonstrations, helping consumers create rubs, and have a lot of great conversations!

Chandler and I are ready for a couple of great  days in Syracuse at the New York State Fair!

Chandler and I are ready for a couple of great days in Syracuse at the New York State Fair!

You can check out our facebook this week for live updates on how everything is going! Check back next week for a summary of our week in New York!

Until Next Time,
Erin

Summer of BEEF

Spending a week in Denver was the highlight of my summer! I have absolutely amazing teammates and it was so great to reconnect with them and improve our leadership skills.

Spending a week in Denver was the highlight of my summer! I have absolutely amazing teammates and it was so great to reconnect with them and improve our leadership skills.

I am again writing my blogs from West Lafayette, Indiana! This past weekend I moved into a cooperative house on Purdue’s campus, where I will be living with 21 other girls this year. My packing job was less then perfect (I ended up sending many “unneeded” outfits back home with my parents) But, I am all settled in and ready for a great year of learning, meeting new people and advocating for the beef community! As I prepare for my classes I can’t help but think of the AMAZING summer filled with beef! Today I’d like to share some of my favorite beefy activities from this summer!

One of my favorite accomplishments from this summer was running my first half marathon! This was a great way to actively advocate the health benefits of beef. Throughout the race many of the spectators greeted us with loud exclamations of their love for beef! I hope to continue promoting beef this way on the streets of Purdue!

One of my favorite accomplishments from this summer was running my first half marathon! This was a great way to actively advocate the health benefits of beef. Throughout the race many of the spectators greeted us with loud exclamations of their love for beef! I hope to continue promoting beef this way on the streets of Purdue!

It was so nice to be back in Minnesota and reconnect with the individuals who started my love for beef! From consumer promotion events to simple county fairs, I loved sharing my passion for beef everywhere I went! This picture was taken at one of my favorite events- The Waseca Taste of Farm Show!

It was so nice to be back in Minnesota and reconnect with the individuals who started my love for beef! From consumer promotion events to simple county fairs, I loved sharing my passion for beef everywhere I went! This picture was taken at one of my favorite events- The Waseca Taste of Farm Show!

Did you see Katies blog about the Hot Beef Sundaes?! I had the great privilege to watch my brother and his friends compete in the Beef Cookoff contest at the Shorthorn Junior National Show and Conference! Unfortunately, I have never tried out this great contest. But, I loved seeing the large numbers of farm kids excited to teach others about how to make delicious meals from the BEEF we proudly produce!

Did you see Katies blog about the Hot Beef Sundaes?! I had the great privilege to watch my brother and his friends compete in the Beef Cookoff contest at the Shorthorn Junior National Show and Conference! Unfortunately, I have never tried out this great contest. But, I loved seeing the large numbers of farm kids excited to teach others about how to make delicious meals from the BEEF we proudly produce!

I hope everyone else has had a wonderful summer!

Until Next Time,
Erin

Packing: Beef Ambassador Style

Fun fact about me: I am the world’s worst packer. Since joining the National Beef Ambassador team I have slightly improved this skill. But, as I join the countless students preparing to return to college I am dreading the task of packing.

What does a farm kid pack to bring to college eleven hours from home? Well I’ll want my favorite jeans, some t-shirts, a coffee mug, and of course- my boots! But, as a farm kid and a beef ambassador there are some more important things I will be bringing with me to college.

1) Strong Work Ethic
Growing up on the farm we always had something that needed to be done! Serving on the National beef ambassador team this past year has added even more tasks into my busy schedule. This constant flow of activity on the farm has helped prepare me for the hussle bussle and chaos that is so common in college.

2) Passion
I absolutely love American agriculture! This past year I have taken countless opportunities to share my beef story and inform consumers about the great work farmers and ranchers are doing to feed our country. Representing these farmers hasn’t just been a “job” to me- it has become a way of life! I plan to use this passion for American agriculture to motivate me to work towards getting an agriculture business degree.

3) Network of Support
The skills and talents that I have acquired as a farm kid will be valuable for my entire life. But, they alone will not ensure my success. It will be the countless valuable relationships I have made in the cattle community that help guide me to a successful future. Whether it be help passing a class, finding an internship, or just providing me with comfort and reassurance- the people I have met are going to be the key to my happiness!

So sure, I’ve still got to spend the next three days weeding through my closet to decide what must stay and what can come with me to college. If I forget something, well I can always have it shipped to Purdue. No matter what happens though, I am confident that these three secret weapons will help ensure an enjoyable and successful college career!

What tools have you collected to pack into your suitcase for success?

What tools have you collected to pack into your suitcase for success?

Until Next Time,
Erin

Expecting the Unexpected

Like many people, I love county fair season! I love competing with my cattle, eating milk shakes and visiting with other farmers! A couple of weeks ago I enjoyed spending time with friends at my own county fair. Since then, I have been visiting other local county fairs and doing my best to advocate for the beef industry.

As a beef ambassador, I strive to share use my beef story to help consumers develop confidence in our product. County fairs are a great venue to have meaningful conversations that do just that. When I first began my journey as a beef ambassador I was terrified for events such as this because I was unsure what I was going to be asked. I have now come to love this uncertainty, because it has led to some of my greatest conversations.

I was reminded of this the other day when I attended a neighboring county fair. My family finished chores on the farm early, so my brother and I decided to spend a relaxing evening watching the cattle show. Well, the evening ended up being more work than we had planned- but it was still a great night! Soon after arriving at the show I ran into some friends I have made through the beef ambassador program. One of these cattlewomen asked my brother and I to join another local beef ambassador in speaking about the program and the impact it has had on our lives. I hadn’t exactly planned to speak at this event, but I was able to deliver a short speech on my duties as a beef ambassador and share some of my wonderful experiences with the audience. Hopefully I was able to encourage other local farm kids to join the beef ambassador program!

One of the most important qualities of a beef ambassador is the ability to make the most of the unexpected. It would be great if all of our consumer’s came with a list of scripted questions that we could spend days preparing perfect answers for. But, that is usually not the way our job works. Instead, the conversations we have lead to the questions of our audience members. The best we can do is to know our industry and have the confidence to share this knowledge whenever appropriate. It may be scary, but with practice these unexpected conversations can be very rewarding!

I know that talking with fairgoers can be a hard task for the farm kids who bring their cattle. As scary as the unknown can be, it can also be very rewarding. I hope that across the country, exhibitors remember to have fun taking care of their cattle as well as to take the time to share their wonderful stories with the curious fairgoers they encounter!

E-I-E-I-O

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O
And on that farm he had a cow
With a moo moo here and a moo moo there
Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo
Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O

If you haven’t heard this children’s song before, then you should take some time to look it up! It was one of my personal favorites growing up. If you have heard the song before, then read on to learn how this song relates to the work of the beef industry!

I recently attended the Minnesota Beef Council’s board meeting to share a little bit about what I have been doing as a beef ambassador. While there, I got to catch up with many of the people who first fueled my passion for advocating for the beef industry and helped train me for the national beef ambassador contest. When I was a Minnesota beef ambassador Conrad Kvamme brought me with him to a few grocery store events so that I would have the opportunity to practice visiting with consumers about beef. I still use many of the techniques he taught me for consumer interaction!

While he was presenting to the board, a certain story of his really caught my attention and I’d like to share it with you today! While at a consumer event, he was being his typical self and promoting beef when a consumer approached him with a very unique comment. This consumer had been listening to him for some quite some time, and wanted to let him know that he was just like Farmer MacDonald singing E-I-E-I-O. As he was driving home, Conrad realized just how much this childhood song applied to his work with the beef council- and I now see how it applies to the role of a beef ambassador. He decided the letters should stand for:
Educate
Inspire
Encourage
Innovate
Offering guidance

As beef ambassadors we work very hard to educate consumers on the work of farmers and the proper ways to ensure that their beef is tasty and safe!

We strive to inspire others involved in production agriculture to share their personal story with honesty and pride whenever possible.

Consumers have many choices when shopping for food, so we encourage them to remember the importance of keeping beef in their diet.

Innovation is necessary to find creative ways to share our story with consumers in a useful and accurate manner.

It would be great if one person could know everything possible about the beef industry, but it’s too large of an industry to expect that. When we don’t know the answer to the question, we can offer guidance to consumers to help them find the answer.

I hope that this song isn’t stuck in your head for too long!

Until Next Time,
Erin

A Not So Glamorous Night on the Farm

Have you ever had one of those days when all of a sudden nothing is going right, and no matter what you do you get stuck in a spiral of mistakes and frustration? All of a sudden you find yourself in a horrible and mood and irrationally upset with everything, and everyone, around you. I think we’ve all been there- but that doesn’t make the situation any easier to handle.

I had one of those moments a few days ago. The night went a little something like this. I walk into the show barn to start the evening chores and find one of our new fans lying broken on the cement floor. I start picking up the pieces of the fan and find that the electrical cord has become damaged and will need fixing. Great, the forecast shows we’ll be in the upper 90’s for the next couple days- I guess I can add “fix the fan” to my to-do list for tonight. I move the pieces out of the way so I can work on some of the more urgent tasks and find that a calf has wandered out of its pen. Most days I find these cute little runaways amusing- but tonight I look with exasperation on the bag of feed that this calf has managed to knock over. I guess I can add clean up feed to my mental to-do list.

For the time, I focus on getting the cows fed and put outside, knowing that I can work on cleaning the feed after the cattle are comfortable. I mix up feed for the show heifers with no problem, but one yearling decides to knock the feedpan out of my hands before I have time to set it down. As much as I’d love to punish the heifer and not feed her tonight, I decide to instead just prepare another batch of feed for her.

After all the show heifers are fed I walk out to the pasture to check on all of the momma cows. Of course, the two pregnant heifers that I am most worried about are not eating hay with the rest of the herd. Looks like I’ll have to walk the rest of the pasture and find them. Without too much hassle, I find the two cows laying in the shade. As I walk closer, I find that the fence is broken and needs mending. Fabulous. My to-do list seems to be growing faster than I can cross anything off of it.

As I walk back to the barn to un-plug the fence, one of the momma cows decides that she doesn’t like the dog and I walking near her calf- so she decides to chase after me. I quickly duck under the fence- and right into a big patch of itch weed.

Really? Can nothing go right? The sun is setting, and my to-do list still reads:
• Fix Fence
• Feed at other farm
• Put show heifers out
• Clean stalls
• Clean up spilled feed
• Fix fan
And now, I’m going to have to do all of it with itchy arms.

I think by now you can see that I was pretty frustrated. I’ll be honest- In the moment, I wished more than anything to be a “normal” teenager. I wanted an 8-5 job that would stop at closing time, regardless of any problems that decide to pop-up. Through the stress and frustration, all I could see were the negatives of living and working on a farm: no closing time, the bad attitudes of some animals, the unexpected breakdowns, the heat, the cold. Trust me- the list goes on and on. Even now, I can see that these consequences are something I must deal with in order to be a farmer. But, I can also see something else. Something very important- the benefits of living on a farm.
I could easily tell you the many benefits of living on a farm. But, instead I want to show you the benefits of working on our family’s farm.

Who doesn't love babies? I think baby cows are better then baby humans because they are cute, playful and don't have diapers that need changing. This is one of my favorite benefits!

Who doesn’t love babies? I think baby cows are better then baby humans because they are cute, playful and don’t have diapers that need changing. This is one of my favorite benefits!

I spend every day with the most important people in my life- my family. We get to laugh, tell jokes, and goof around- all while “working”.

I spend every day with the most important people in my life- my family. We get to laugh, tell jokes, and goof around- all while “working”.

My clients are fabulous. Sure, they have their moments. But 90% of the time they are friendly, beautiful and calming.

My clients are fabulous. Sure, they have their moments. But 90% of the time they are friendly, beautiful and calming.

The views from my "office" are second to none! I get to spend my days looking at, and working within, some of the most beautiful scenery possible!

The views from my “office” are second to none! I get to spend my days looking at, and working within, some of the most beautiful scenery possible!


I know there are plenty of reasons to hate farming- but there are many more reasons to love this lifestyle. Why do you love being a farmer or rancher? Or why do you wish you could be one?

Until Next Time,
Erin

Learning About a Feedyard

Wow! I had a fabulous week in Colorado with my beef ambassador team! We were only there for about four days, but we sure did accomplish a lot! One of the greatest experiences I had was touring the JBS 5 Rivers feedyards in Kuner and Gilcrest.

Growing up on a small cow-calf farm in Minnesota I haven’t had much experience with feedyards. I have heard much about the accomplishments that come from these operations, but I was impressed with the level of care provided for the cattle at these feedyards! I was most impressed by the technologies being employed to keep the animals comfortable and to ensure a safe and quality food supply!

The technology that I was most impressed with was the innovative ideas to control pests. At these feedyards, they raise and release predator insects that eat the flies that normally bother cattle. Doing so keeps both the animals and employees of the feedyard comfortable and healthy. Whats great about using these predator flies is that possibly hazardous insecticides no longer need to be used in large scale on these feedyards.

Another great use of technology that I was impressed with was the systems used to control water management. Often times, criticism of feedyards revolves around the environmental hazard they pose. However, feedyards all work to make sure they are doing their part in protecting our planet! At the JBS 5 Rivers feedyards that we visited, they took special measures to control their water usage. The most interesting part of their water control plan involved recycling their waste water and using it to control dust. What an awesome idea!

I have always felt that feedyards were a great way to effectively and safely finish off steers. After my visit with the JBS feedyards, I know this is true and am proud to be a part of this wonderful industry!

Until Next Time,
Erin