12 Things All Cattle Showmen Know About County Fairs

County fair season is underway! For fairgowers, it’s a fun time filled with concerts, rides, greasy food, and tractor pulls. But for thousands of livestock families across the nation, this week is more anticipated than Christmas Day!

For families with cattle projects, fair week is taken very seriously. Although each fair is different, here are twelve things that ALL cattle showmen can relate to:

1. “Fair food” actually means crockpot meals and loaded coolers.Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 7.38.59 AM

2. The kids who don’t show cattle will never understand why you have to wash and blow EVERYDAY.

3. You will undoubtedly go through an entire bottle of baby powder to get all the ultra-sound oil out of your calf’s top-line. (It all pays off if you make rate-of-gain!)

4. The camper becomes a harbor for multiple changes of clothes, dirty boots, show boots, and the entire grocery store snack aisle.

5. You have to take your own water onto the grounds because cattle are picky drinkers and don’t like city water.Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 7.40.29 AM

6. Naps and showering become a rare and precious amenity.

7. Show day actually starts at 4 AM.

8. You will have the same conversation with your mother every year that goes something like:

“Smile and act like you are having fun in the ring!”
“I am having fun mom. This is just my show face to let the judge know I mean business!”

9. The best part of any day is sitting at tie-outs with the barn crew.Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 7.37.32 AM

10. No matter how hard you try, you always go home with one less scotch comb than you started with.

11. The hardest part of the fair ending is going home to an empty barn.

12. No matter how you do on show day, you always walk away proud of yourself because you know that you put in the time, work and effort to raise and care for the largest market animal on the fair grounds!

To all the cattle showmen preparing for your county fairs; work hard, keep cool, have a blast, and good luck!

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Race, Recover, REPEAT!

This past Saturday, I found myself sprinting up the face of a mountain, diving through mud laden culverts, leaping 40 foot barriers, scaling walls and cargo nets, wading through 30,000 gallons of ice, rolling through electric wire, and bogging through 5.4 miles of forests and rough terrain. No, I was not being chased by a pack of wolves, I was merely competing in the Savage Race!

It took me 1 hour and 55 minutes to complete the course, but I am proud to be one of the 3,100 people to cross the finish line.

A pack of "Savages" crossing the finish line!

A pack of “Savages” crossing the finish line!

Following the race (and after taking two showers) I decided to treat myself to a “recovery supper.” Recovery meals are much more important than a typical meal because they help to rebuild, replenish and restore your body after an extreme workout. Below are the key elements that a proper recovery meal should contain and what I piled onto my plate following the Savage Race.

My "Recovery Supper" featuring a sirloin steak.

My “Recovery Supper” featuring a sirloin steak.

Protein acts as a bridge between damaged tissue cells and helps to rebuild muscle.  Naturally, my choice of protein after the race was a sirloin steak. Sirloin steak is actually in the top three best proteins that you can consume after a tough work out and is likely to be the least expensive steak on a restaurant menu.

In order to prevent muscle breakdown, your body needs two additional types of protein that are found in dairy products: casein and whey. Chocolate milk has been said to have the same nutritional benefits as a protein shake and helps to synthesis proteins faster to help muscle cells recover more quickly. Even though I felt a little silly ordering a chocolate milk to go with my steak, it certainly couldn’t have tasted any better!

Vitamin A and Vitamin C:
After a race like the Savage, I was bound to have my fair share of cuts and bruises. Vitamin A helps to produce white blood cells, which work to fight infection. Vitamin C takes care of helping skin and flesh wounds heal quicker, in addition to repairing connective tissue and cartilage. Judging by the amount of mud I cleared away from the scrapes on my knees and elbows, I was going to need all the help I could get to heal quickly. To gain these two important vitamins, I had a bowl of carrots (for Vitamin A) and broccoli (for Vitamin C).

Carbs are essential after a hard workout, or bodily torture in this case, because they help restore muscle glycogen that has been depleted. For me, I found this as the perfect excuse to dive into a basket of Texas Roadhouse rolls, completely guilt free!

So there you have it; your guide to the perfect recovery meal after a tough workout. Next time you find yourself in the middle of a challenging workout, or a mud pit, think about the juicy steak at the end of the tunnel!

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

CA Beef Ambassador

This Saturday was the 2014 California Beef Ambassador competition and marked the end of my term as California Beef Ambassador. The contest was held at the Emma Prusch Farm Park in San Jose, California. There were a record number of contestants, with 15 juniors and 11 seniors competing. After a long day of issue response, consumer demonstration, and media interview, the contestants had the pleasure of attending a media training lead by CA Beef Council’s communications representative, Jill Scoefield, and finally the winners were announced. The new 2014 California Beef Ambassador is Ms. Jillian Casaca (after winning and/or tying for first in all three parts of the competition), and she will take my place as the face of California Beef. The junior winner was Shane Stubblefield of Kern County, CA. The contest was so encouraging and seeing all the up-and-coming advocates made me very proud. Congratulations Jillian and Shane, and here’s to another year of advocation and beef!

The 2014 CA Beef Ambassador contestants

The 2014 CA Beef Ambassador contestants

The 100th Little International

The 100th Little International was held this past Saturday at Ohio State, which happens to be my favorite collegiate event!  The Little International is a university-wide showmanship competition where participants have the choice of showing a beef animal, a hog, a lamb or a horse. Naturally, I chose showing cattle.

This picture was taken on "Drawing Day" when our team selected our heifer, Lady.

This picture was taken on “Drawing Day” when our team selected our heifer, Lady.

It's hard work to break a beef animal to lead,  and sometimes you walk away with a few battle scars.

It’s hard work to break a beef animal to lead, and sometimes you walk away with a few battle scars.

Preparation for the Little International actually began the first week in March when our group went out to Ohio State’s livestock facilities and selected our heifer. From there on, we had exactly one month to prepare for the contest. Our team spent several hours each day at the barn, walking our heifer and getting her used to being worked with. This may sound like a simple task, but all the heifers we had to choose from this year were older than the ideal age to break cattle (which is about 6 months of age) and already weighed 850 lbs, so we definitely had our hands full. Of course, it also didn’t help that we selected the largest heifer in the lot!

My favorite part about the Little International is that there are both experienced and inexperienced divisions; so even if you have never shown a particular species before, you can still learn from an experienced showman and compete against other individuals who are still learning as well. This year was especially fun because I got to work with two of my best friends to teach them how to show cattle. Although it’s great to talk with my friends about beef, there is no better feeling than actually involving my peers in the cattle industry and giving them the opportunity to work with the animals one on one.

This great shot of our team was taken as we gave our heifer a pep talk before going into the final drive of the competition.

This great shot of our team was taken as we gave our heifer a pep talk before going into the final drive of the competition.

On show day, as I watched my inexperienced showmen in the ring, it reminded me of how my dad used to stand along the gate watching my sister and I show. No matter how much fun it is to be in the ring personally, it’s an even greater reward to watch your friends succeed in the ring. I am so proud of both my inexperienced showmen for working so hard this past month and for always smiling, even if they were frustrated. It’s a relief to finally see all of our hard work pay off; I’m already looking forward to next year’s Little International competition!
All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Life Lessons from the Showring

This past weekend at the Ohio Beef Expo, you only had to watch about one or two classes of the steer and heifer show to realize one thing: nine year old’s are tough! The weather was clear and cool outside, making it perfect for the cattle’s thick hides; naturally the animals were feeling a little frisky. But despite a few calves getting loose here and there, you could tell that the young showman were having a blast and that they were all focused on doing their best.

As I watched the young showmen in the ring, I thought back to my first years showing cattle. Even though I have been removed from the show industry for several years, the lessons that I learned from the experience have never left me.  If you are a parent of a young showman or a showman yourself, hopefully these tips will help you make the most of your show experience.

Halter breaking a calf after school during my Junior year of high school.

Halter breaking a calf after school during my Junior year of high school.

Do your work ahead of time:
You never just walk into the show ring and expect to win Grand Champion without a lot of hard work and effort behind the scenes. It takes countless hours of working in the barns, monitoring feed rations, and working hair in order for beef animals to look and feel their best on show day. For me, this meant putting in 8 hours at school, going through grueling soccer practices, and then still staying out in the barns until well after dark, only to get up and do it all again the next day. But by the time show day rolled around, I never regretted those extra hours that I spent in the barns because I knew the beef animals that I walked into the ring were a true representation of my hard work.

Don’t get worked up:
During my fourth year of showing cattle, I vividly remember the terrifying feeling of having a panic attack in the show ring. I was so worked up that I could barely catch my breath and it took everything in me to make it through the class. Once you get a little upset, the effect just keeps snowballing and it’s hard to calm yourself (and your calf) down. The most important thing to remember in that situation is that you are in the ring to have fun! Whether your calf is having a bad day or you feel like you made a few mistakes, take a deep breath, smile, and remember that your time in the ring is what you’ve been looking forward to all year; enjoy it!

Don’t pay attention to the crowd; just do your job:
It’s easy to become nervous when you have hundreds of eyes on you in the show ring; you feel like even the tiniest mistakes are somehow the center of everyone’s attention. But the truth is, once you are in the ring, you have a job to do and nothing else matters. When it’s time to get down to business, let the world fade away and simply focus on giving your best performance for the judge.

It all pays off in the ring!

It all pays off in the ring!

Just keep showing:

It can be frustrating being so small in comparison to such a large animal, and many times it feels like the steer is leading you, rather than the other way around. It’s important, though, to keep showing, no matter how many times that calf swings out of line or moves it’ s feet out of place right after you set them. Your calf knows you and they know when you get frustrated, so just keep working and show the judge that you aren’t giving up, even if your calf is having a bad day.

And most importantly, I learned what it means to be a good producer.

My family knows that to get the purple, you have to work together as a team.

My family knows that to get the purple, you have to work together as a team.

As a nine year old, caring for a market animal is a really tough job. It isn’t like having a pet, because you know that what you are raising serves a greater purpose than simply being a companion. Raising my own cattle to show through 4-H taught me that everything I did as the producer was a direct reflection of my family and our farm. As I now look forward to my future in the beef industry, I know that I have the same responsibility of representing the beef community in a positive light.

Whether you are raising one calf to show through 4-H, an entire herd of beef animals, or maybe you have no connection to cattle at all, these five points can still mean something to everyone. Be prepared, don’t dwell on mistakes, do your job, never give up, and set a good example. It’s incredible what raising livestock at nine years old can teach you and the life lessons that will remain with you throughout the years.

All for the love of beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Go for the Gold, With Beef!

Following my county’s annual cattlemen’s banquet this past Saturday, my family ended our evening by watching the Olympics together. As we watched, footage came on the television of a girl with flaming red hair rocketing down an ice slope on a skeleton board. My dad instantly turned to me and said, “ Have you heard her story?” Many Olympians have incredible come back stories or interesting backgrounds, but I was puzzled why my dad was so excited about this particular girl. He simply exclaimed to me, “She’s a beef producer from Kansas. When she isn’t competing, she’s back home feeding her cows!”
In my mind, I always thought training for the Olympics was a full time job; however, for this young woman, it’s simply a side project to her ranching career! I was so intrigued by her story that I began to wonder if there were other members of the beef community who moonlighted as professional athletes in the 2014 Olympics. What I found was incredible:

Kaitlyn Farrington, Idaho
Gold Medalist in the Snowboarding half-pipe
Kaitlyn grew up raising beef cattle and used the money she earned to fund her early snowboarding career.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 5.00.20 PM

Farrington goes for the gold with beef

Emily Scott, Missouri
Speed Skater and 2014 Olympic Beef Ambassador for Missouri
Credits the nutritional elements of beef as a key part to her daily workout regime.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 4.55.37 PM

2014 Olympic Beef Ambassador from Missouri, Emily Scott

Katie Uhlaender, Kansas

Placed 4th overall in the Skeleton
Used her Olympic prize money from 2007 and 2008 to buy cattle and follow in her father’s footsteps of being a cattle producer and a professional athlete.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 4.55.11 PM

Katie snaps a felfie while working back home on her Kansas ranch

From sharing the nutritional side, the economic side and the hard-working side, these ladies cover the beef community from every angle. It’s so neat that they are able to share their beef story while competing in the 2014 Olympic games! These women do an incredible job of sharing what beef did for them; what can it do for you?

All for the love of beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Siskiyou County Beef Ambassdors

California’s 2014 Siskiyou County Beef Ambassadors were chosen at the county competition last weekend (Sunday, February 9). For my senior project (a 30-hour project required to graduate), I decided to put on the competition from start to finish. From training the contestants to calling judges and coming up with media questions, I got to put the whole thing together, and it was a great experience. It was really fun to be on the other side of the contest; to be the one putting thought into what the contestants should know about the beef community. While the competition was small in comparison to the National one (there were five juniors and two seniors) it was awesome to see the impact that it had on these young people. They

The 2014 Siskiyou County Beef Ambassadors were chosen last weekend

The 2014 Siskiyou County Beef Ambassadors were chosen last weekend

were well-prepared: we had weekly practices in which we discussed potential questions and reviewed the Masters of Beef Advocacy Program. At the competition, the competitors faced a very high-caliber panel of judges, both in the consumer promotion and media interview portions of the competition, and they blew them away. The judges were surprised at the amount of knowledge expressed by the beef ambassadors, and had a very hard time picking a winner. I was proud of the contestants, but mostly I was encouraged by the passion I saw for the beef industry. Each one of them showed a true concern for current issues in the industry, and a desire to correct misconceptions. Although winners were picked, and they will represent Siskiyou County at the State level in April, I’m confident that each one of the young leaders that competed will continue to actively promote beef.



Let’s Celebrate Ohio Beef!

Even through frigid temperatures and blizzard-like conditions, cattlemen and cattlewomen from across the state of Ohio were brought together on Saturday for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s annual meeting and banquet. Producers and youth gathered together to celebrate Ohio’s beef industry and our accomplishments from the past year. Some of the top highlights of the evening were hearing remarks from NCBA president, Scott George, the announcements of the 2014 Commercial Cattlemen of the Year, Seedstock Producer of the Year and Young Cattlemen of the Year, and the installation of the new 2014 Ohio Beef Ambassador team.

Attendees enjoyed a delicious prime rib dinner!

Attendees enjoyed a delicious prime rib dinner!

Throughout the day, attendees took part in several meetings and group discussions.  In  “Around the Water Tank,” producers participated in sessions where they learned more about priority issues impacting Ohio’s beef community and what consumers are saying about beef. During the Ohio Cattlemen’s annual meeting, the Ohio Beef Council shared an update about the Ohio Beef Checkoff Referendum to keep producers aware of policy changes. The meeting also served as a celebration, where Ohio Cattlewomen recognized their 50th anniversary.

Eight young beef advocates competed in the Ohio Beef Ambassador contest

Eight beef advocates competed in the Ohio Beef Ambassador contest

Outside of the general meeting agenda, eight contestants competed in the Ohio Beef Ambassador contest. The contestants were tested on their knowledge of the beef industry and ability to communicate effectively with consumers through a media interview, issues response and consumer promotion. Kendra Gabriel, Demi Snider and Hallie Hiser were selected to serve on the 2014 Ohio Beef Ambassador team. Good luck to these young ladies in their coming year as they travel Ohio sharing their passion for the beef community!

Left to Right: Demi Snider, Hallie Hiser and Kendra Gabriel will serve on the 2014 Beef Ambassador Team

Left to Right: Demi Snider, Hallie Hiser and Kendra Gabriel will serve on the 2014 Ohio Beef Ambassador Team

The annual Cattlemen’s Association banquet is an event that I have been looking forward to all year. It is so inspiring to gather together with producers and industry leaders from your own state to see all that you have accomplished together. I am looking forward to the start of another wonderful year as a beef producer and can’t wait to see where 2014 takes us!

All for the love of beef,

Sierra Jepsen

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,

Fuel for the Finish

Howdy Fellow Beef Lovers!


Training Update > Click!

It’s me Arika again, and boy am I ready to kick off summer with a healthy start! With so much going on this summer it’s hard to make time to prepare meals, exercise and do all the fun things summer has to offer like the many family cookouts, amusement parks, and beach adventures. Yet, it’s still important to include all these factors during into my daily routine. As you all probably read in my earlier blogs in February, I committed to run in the Boiler Maker 15K race that takes place in Utica, NY on July 8th.

With just a few weeks until the big race day it’s important to watch what I take in for protein, calcium and other nutrients I need to finish out my race nice and strong. I have recently started my 15K training this past weekend and it sure feels nice to get back into the swing of a nice workout routine. I started out with running two miles which is a good start, but by the end of my training I’m hoping that I can hit the 9.5 mile mark and run with ease. I know, I’m crazy right? Who in their right mind would think of starting out their college summer vacation with a hellish training routine to prepare for a 15 K??? I would!

My motto for this year has been, you only live once..so why not do something daring. If you think that running that mile in the morning or even jogging through the park is a bit of a challenge for yourself, take on the challenge and motivate yourself to make a change in your daily routine. Instead of watching your afternoon shows, why not take a nice stroll outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, anything to keep your blood pumping! Not only do I think everyone should take part in a daily physical activity, but I also feel that its important to eat right. Beef is one powerful protein and with beef our body can replenish valuable nutrients that have been depleted during exercise in a quick fashion. If there is one aspect to running or any other activity for that matter  it’s repair to muscles and recovery. Protein is the natural healer to muscle damage and injuries which makes beef all the better to consumer during a post or pre run meal. Plus, beef is a natural protein that can be cooked in so many different ways that it doesn’t matter if you’re on the go or ready for a sit down meal, it’s there when you crave it.

Just in time for this summer’s grilling season I have the perfect recipe that will have you begging for more. If you are seafood and beef lover this recipe is for you. I’ll share this wonderful link on how to prepare sirloin steaks stuffed with shrimp! It’s a delicious dinner and it’s a summer meal anyone will love, esp the athlete in your family! Please stay tuned for more updates before race day!

If you’re interested in participating in races yourself this summer, this link is very helpful to keep you motivated and on target with being ready for race day! Click here for the same training program I’m using for race day!


With a Cattle Calling,