Young cattle producers accepted the challenge to be “Focused on My Future” during the 2008 Youth Beef Industry Congress (YBIC), March 27-30 at the Purina Research and Conference Center at Gray Summit, Mo. The biennial event allowed 152 young men and women who are the leaders of junior breed and state junior cattlemen associations to interact with one another while exploring their futures through career building exploration. Designed for top individuals in the beef industry, the 2008 YBIC was sponsored by Purina Mills, the U.S. Beef Breeds Council and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA).
“We wanted to make this year's YBIC the most interactive in years with a look into real-world career opportunities,” said Chris Stephens, American Hereford Association director of youth activities and the 2008 YBIC planning chairman. “The speakers and tours allowed the participants to learn about themselves and the career opportunities in the beef industry while networking with others.”
Young professionals who have extensive experience in the beef industry addressed the attendees in several interactive panels that covered building a career, livestock marketing and human resources. A “Been There, Done That” panel included Angie Denton, Blue Rapids, Kan.; Jarrod Gillig, Hereford, Texas; Kyle McMillan, Ohio, Ill.; and Chad Zehnder, Stanchfield, Minn., all of whom served on junior beef breed boards in the past. The panel discussed their diversified careers and how their involvement in junior breed organizations helped prepare them for their careers and what they look for in hiring individuals. They stressed the importance of setting goals, interning, networking at events such as YBIC, diversifying their experiences, as well as sharing a passion and dedication to the industry.
“People are the most important part to animal agriculture,” said McMillan who earlier served on the Polled Hereford Council, as he outlined six key steps to success. “Dedication and a sincere desire are critical to success today and tomorrow,” he said.
A marketing panel discussed the importance of marketing livestock in a catchy way through a variety of mediums. Jared Spader, Osborn & Barr and lifelong Angus breeder defined marketing as “the intersection of psychology and commerce.” Other panel members included Christy Couch Lee, National Swine Registry; Anita Vanderwert, Brownfield/Learfield Networks; John Zeloski and Brant Gilbert, both with Purina.
A final panel discussion included tips on organizing a cover letter and resume as well as preparing for a job interview. Panelists included human resources experts Jamie Meyer Rutledge, who works for Rubbermaid, and Karen Howard, Land O' Lakes Purina. Both encouraged the group to have outside and volunteer activities as well as experience. They said that knowing the company and asking questions in the interview process is important.
Diane Johnson, Fort Worth, Texas, also offered tips for preparing for a career. She obtained each participant's resumes in advance and critiqued them and offered advise and showed examples of exceptional work. She demonstrated hand shaking and interview skills to the group as well. Johnson, the executive director of the Livestock Publications Council, offered three words of advice, “Consideration. Honesty. Respect.”
In addition to participating with the interactive panels and discussions, the youth had the opportunity to learn more about themselves and others through ice breakers and team building activities. Kim Anderson, University of Georgia Fanning Institute, challenged the group to think about the importance of moving from a “competition” mind-set to a “completion” mindset that works for the best of an organization and the beef industry. She demonstrated that by adding the letter “l” to “compete,” an organization can grow to enhance the experiences for all those involved.
Other speakers that addressed the group include Mark Wellman, NCBA field representative; Rod Nulik, Land O'Lakes Purina Feed LLC Cattle Business Group marketing manager, and Craig Huffhines, American Hereford Association executive vice president. Wellman gave a forecast on beef cattle numbers in the U.S. that included purebred cow numbers as well as fed cattle. He said the typical 10-year cattle cycle is a thing of the past. Nulik encouraged the youth to give back to others stating that volunteering and affording others opportunities is very important in today's society. Finally, Huffhines challenged the group to face their fears in life by finding a mentor.
In addition to interacting with speakers, attendees toured segments of Purina's Research Farm, attended a hockey game and networked with others. YBIC strives to bring youth together working in the interest of the beef cattle industry and to provide them with further knowledge and understanding of all segments of the beef industry.