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

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

-Ohio State Buckeyes 4 Beef!-

What happens when you combine a newly chartered collegiate organization, a burning passion for the beef cattle community, and an excitement to share that passion with the students of your college university? The Buckeyes4Beef Ohio State campus event!

It was so exciting to see OSU students writing positive notes about beef and posting them to our #BeefBuzz Board

It was so exciting to see OSU students writing positive notes about beef and posting them to our #BeefBuzz Board

Buckeyes4Beef took place this past weekend on my college campus, The Ohio State University. Through the efforts of the Collegiate Cattlewomen’s Club of Ohio State, the 2014 National Beef Ambassador team, and funding provided by the Beef Checkoff, our team of beef enthusiasts was able to successfully execute the largest beef promotion event to ever hit the city of Columbus.

National Beef Ambassador, Rachael Wolters plays beef trivia with Ohio State's mascot, Brutus the Buckeye.

National Beef Ambassador, Rachael Wolters plays beef trivia with Ohio State’s mascot, Brutus the Buckeye.

Buckeyes4Beef was divided into two days. On Friday, our event was held on a large grassy space in the center of campus, which we call the Oval. On the Oval, our group spent the day playing games, such as Meet Your Meat, Beef Busters, Who’s the Heifer, and Size Up Your Servings, and sought opportunities to have genuine conversations with our peers about their concerns involving the beef community. During the event, we collected surveys, asking students one question of whether their opinion about the positives of beef had improved, remained the same, or decreased after their time at the Buckeyes4Beef event. Of the 58 students surveyed, 78% said that their opinions had improved, and 22% said their feelings had not changed. Pretty awesome statistics!

Congratulations to our Take-the-Steak champs, the Buckeye Dairy Club!

Congratulations to our Take-the-Steak champs, the Buckeye Dairy Club!

On Saturday, the Buckeyes4Beef event continued with a tailgate during the Ohio State vs. Kent State football game. During the tailgate, our team served all-beef hot dogs to football fans and handed out fun beef prizes. The most exciting part of the tailgate was the “Take-the-Steak” competition; a Chopped- style cook-off where collegiate clubs and organizations formed teams to show off their beef grilling and culinary skills. After three rounds of tough competition (and a lot of really great beef) it was a pleasure to award the Buckeye Dairy Club with the Take-the-Steak trophy and the grand prize; a steak dinner for 20!

All in all, Buckeyes4Beef was a huge success. After assessing attendance of the two events, I estimate that we were able to reach approximately 700 students and tailgaters with our event, not to mention the #BeefBuzz that was exploding throughout Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It was such an amazing experience to work with our newly chartered Collegiate Cattlewomen’s club to put on this event, especially considering the entire production was planned before we have had our first official club meeting. It just goes to show how impactful a group of millennials can be when we set out to share our passions. Eat Beef and Go Bucks!

All for the Love for Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Bring Beef to Your Tailgate!

It’s finally football season! The long stretch of winter basketball, spring baseball and summer soccer has finally brought us back to the main event. While fans from across the nation may have different ways of showing their team spirit, it can be unanimously decided that tailgating will be at the heart of every college and professional football game this fall. Here are my top 5 picks for the best tailgating dishes to feature on game day:Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.46.51 PM

1. BBQ Beef Sandwiches
2. Three Bean Chili
3. Walking Tacos
4. Cheeseburger Quesadillas
5. Sloppy Joe’s

When it comes to tailgating, beef really scores! Whether you need a light snack or a full meal, you can’t go wrong when beef is what’s for dinner.  Check out Beef Pro’s on Pintrest for more great beef tailgating recipes.

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Labor Day Beef Kabobs

Happy Labor Day, beef lovers! Although it is nice to have a day off work and without classes, Labor day always brings a little air of sadness because it officially signifies that summer has ended, school has begun, and fall is already in the air. So as one final tribute to summer, let’s cook up one of the most treasured summer time recipes; Beef Kabobs!Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 7.53.17 AM

Teriyaki Beef Kabobs
Ingredients
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 lb boneless beef top sirloin
1 (19 ounce) can pineapple, drained
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
4 skewers

1.) Cut your beef into bite sized cubes

2.) Whisk brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and ground ginger together in a bowl; pour into a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag. Add beef, coat with the marinade, squeeze out excess air, and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours, flipping the bag several times as the meat marinates.

3.) Begin soaking your skewers in water; this will prevent them from burning when on the grill.

4.) Prepare your fruits and vegetables by cutting them into cubes about the same size as your beef.

5.) After 2 hours, remove your beef from the marinade and discard the remaining juices.

6.) Thread beef, pineapple, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper onto skewers.

7.) Cook the skewers on the preheated grill, turning frequently until nicely browned on all sides, and the meat is no longer pink in the center; 10 to 15 minutes.

Although Labor Day is supposed to be a day where we put all work aside and take a break, we all know that farmers and ranchers are still out in the fields and pastures from dusk until dawn. To agriculturalists everywhere, I raise my Kabob to you!

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Stuffed Bell Peppers: “College Kid Approved”

With classes starting up again this week at Ohio State, friends are back in town, and kickoff to football season drawing closer and closer, the last thing on my mind every night is what I’m going to make for supper; that is, until I’m digging hungrily through the pantry in my new college apartment, trying to piece together ingredients to make a decent meal for myself and my six roommates! Here is a quick and easy beef recipe that is college kid tested, approved, and highly recommended for when you need a late night, last minute dinner idea.
Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 10.55.51 AM
Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients:
4 large bell peppers (any color)
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup cooked rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (3 oz)

1.) Remove the top of the peppers and cut in half so you have a pepper “boat.”  Remove seeds and membranes; rinse peppers. In a 4-quart pot, add enough water to cover peppers. Heat to boiling; add peppers. Cook about 2 minutes, then drain.

2.) In skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes until beef is brown; drain. Stir in rice, salt, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce; cook until hot.

3.) Heat oven to 350°F.

4.) Fill peppers with beef mixture. Place in ungreased 8-inch square glass baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over peppers.

5.) Cover tightly with foil. Bake 10 minutes. Uncover and bake about 15 minutes longer or until peppers are tender; sprinkle with cheese.

Serve with garlic bread, and enjoy!

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

#ManCrushMonday – Baxter Black

Cow Attack – By Baxter Black

Reciting "Cow Attack" from memory with Baxter Black has been one of my favorite memories this year.

Reciting “Cow Attack” from memory with Baxter Black has been one of my favorite memories this year.

“What happened to your pickup seat? Is that a buffalo track?”
Well, I guess you had to be there. We had a cow attack.
It all began when me and Roy went out to check the cows.
We’d finished lunch and watched our “soap” and forced ourselves to rouse.

We”s pokin’ through the heavy bunch for calves to tag and check.
I spotted one but his ol’ mom was bowin’ up her neck.
She pawed the ground and swung her head a-slingin’ froth and spit
Then bellered like a wounded bull. “Say, Roy,” I says, “Let’s quit!”

But Roy was bent on taggin’ him and thought to make a grab.
“Just drive up there beside the calf, I’ll pull him in the cab.”
Oh, great. Another stroke of genius, of cowboy derring-do.
Sure-’nuff when Roy nabbed the calf, his mamma came in too.

And I do mean climbed up in there! Got a foot behind the seat
Punched a horn right through the windshield and she wasn’t very neat.
She was blowin’ stuff out both ends till the cab was slick and green
It was on the floor and on the roof and on the calf vaccine.

If you’ve been inside a dryer at the local laundromat
With a bear and 50 horseshoes then you know just where I’s at.
At one point she was sittin’ up, just goin’ for a ride
But then she tore the gun rack down. The calf went out my side.

I was fightin’ with my door lock which she’d smashed a-passin’ by
When she peeked up through the steering wheel and looked me in the eye.
We escaped like paratroopers out the window, landed clear.
But the cow just kept on drivin’,’cause the truck was still in gear.

She topped a hump and disappeared.The blinker light came on
But if she turned I never saw, by then the truck was gone.
I looked at Roy,”My truck is wrecked. My coveralls are soaked.
I’ll probably never hear again. I think my elbow’s broke.

“And look at you–yer pitful. All crumpled up and stiff
Like you been et by wild dogs and pooped over a cliff.”
“But think about it,” Roy said. “Since Grampa was alive,
I b’lieve that that’s the firstest time I’ve seen a cattle drive.”

A Summer Worth Working For – Part 2

Earlier this summer, I introduced you to a few young agriculturalists from around the U.S who were all embarking on summer internships. Throughout the past 12 weeks, these college students have immersed themselves in new cultures, explored potential career opportunities, and devoted themselves to their work. As their internships came to an end this past week, I had the chance to ask them the question, “What has this experience meant to you?”IMG_3073-2

“It’s always been my goal to have a career with a purpose. Having this internship on the Crop Insurance team has been so fulfilling because I have been able to find that purpose and make a difference by protecting farmers from losses.” –Joanna King, Crop Insurance Intern with Farm Credit Mid-America.
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“Traveling half way across the country to work for Monsanto has taught me more about corn, Texas, Monsanto, and myself than I ever expected. This internship gave me the opportunity to start my professional career in agriculture and truly contribute to my team in Texas. The people I have met and the knowledge I have gained this summer will continue to help me along the way as I hope to continue my career with Monsanto.” – Seth Erwin, Field Sales Intern with Monsanto.
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“Working for Harris Ranch this summer has been incredible for a myriad of reasons, but gaining the hands on experience in the final stages of the beef production cycle; learning or being instructed in Spanish rather than my first language; and building relationships with all of the people I had the privilege to work with and learn from were the top three aspects I loved the most.” – Gabriella De Simone, Harris Ranch Intern.
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As for me, working with the Certified Angus Beef® brand has taught me to never underestimate the amount of work that goes into transitioning beef from the pasture to the plate.  While it may take 18 months to raise one beef animal, a chef only has four minutes to make it great.  I have greatly enjoyed my time working with the Public Relations team and further recognizing the importance of meeting the needs of consumers and understanding how we can better serve them in the future.

Internships are truly one of the best parts of the college experience. Thank you for allowing Joanna, Seth, Gabriella and I to share our favorite moments from our internships, which made this summer worth working for.

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Cowgirl Wisdom

An exciting event that happened this past week… my mama’s birthday! Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 10.59.04 AMAs we got to chatting that morning about all the things she has accomplished during her time on earth, I couldn’t help but think about all the things she has done for me, as well.

My mom has conquered some really incredible life obstacles over the years. Some as big as getting her Ph.D, and others more humorous, like the time she set the lawn mower on fire. Yes, my mom has done it all, but the one I am most thankful for is raising my sister and I to be the gals that we are today. To prove that I really was listening to her words of wisdom all of those years, here are the top ten lessons that my mom has taught me:

1. Always wear a helmet.  Whether it’s a bike, a horse, or the 4-wheeler, you won’t be getting on it if you don’t protect your head. (I guess I should mention that my mom specializes in agricultural safety.)

2. Only as many riders as there are seats. And no, dad’s lap on the tractor does not count as a seat!

3. When you’ve had a hard day at work, take it out on the flowerbeds.

4. It is possible to make it to every soccer game, track meet, FFA banquet , 4-H meeting, band concert, and play performance while working a full time job and helping on the farm… though I’m still not sure how.

5. Passing on the family’s Dutch Apple Pie recipe is a gift that keeps on giving.

6. Make time for family, even if it means waiting until 8 o’clock at night to sit down and eat supper together.

7. Look out for yourself, because no one else will.

8. Be assertive and passionate, yet patient and humble.

9. If you get bucked off, get right back on. Both figuratively, so you can prove to yourself that you can do it, and literally, so you don’t teach your rotten pony bad habits!

10. Being a cowgirl doesn’t mean you will always be fearless.  Be smart enough to ask questions, strong enough to ask for help, and tough enough to show love and compassion to everyone you meet.

To all the mamas out there, thank you for your love, your guidance, and your cowgirl wisdom that has helped to shape tomorrow’s agricultural leaders… AKA, your kiddos!

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen