In early August, the American Gelbvieh Junior Association (AGJA) joined forces with the American Junior Shorthorn Association and the American Junior Simmental Association to put on a unique leadership conference in the beef industry called The Summit. Over 85 members from these organizations came together as strangers and left as friends and contacts they’ll have forever in the livestock industry. I could write in length about the impact this had on the participants’ AGJA experience and their lives going forward within the field of agriculture.
At the beginning of the conference the organizers split the larger group into smaller groups to intermix participants from each breed. For the next three days, these small groups worked as a team and interacted on a more personal level as well as the large group. To kick off the conference, Tom Field, Ph.D., director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program- University of Nebraska-Lincoln, really set the tone with a speech about the future. He spoke about the exciting things the program is doing to help students jumpstart their small business ideas in agriculture,
to chase their vision and dream, and never give up. Maddy Ruble from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) also explained how NCBA goes about interacting with consumers as they move forward in a world that’s further and further removed from production agriculture. But, the most fun of the day might have come with a choreographed lip-sync performance/competition between the small groups.
The next day was the very educational with “real world” beef industry visits. The two big stops for the day, besides Memorial Stadium, of course , were at the US Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) and GeneSeek. Visiting MARC was a great educational opportunity to see research projects that affect cattle producers’ day-to-day lives. GeneSeek provided the group with a unique opportunity for members to learn about the complex world of genetics and the genomic testing. Of course, a crowd favorite was the tour of Memorial Stadium and the great history of the
University of Nebraska’s football program. Later that night a little fun was had with a competition of the water Olympics.
On Saturday, there were several speakers in the lineup. In the morning we were given a crash course in meat science and a tour of the UNL meats lab. The group also listened to a very thought-provoking presentation on the impact of genetic selection by Matt Spangler, Ph.D., professor and Extension beef genetics specialist with UNL That afternoon, Kate Hagans with the Kansas Farm Bureau came and spoke on the importance of social media used in agriculture with an expanding technological world. We capped off the day with some bowling and finished the conference the
next morning with goodbyes.
This was an outstanding leadership conference with some tremendous opportunities for our members. These types of leadership events are going to be critical in the development
of our members as we try to feed a booming population while working through it all with more and more people removed from rural America. The connections gained and the skills that were developed made The Summit leadership conference a tremendous success.