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NDSU’s Junior Beef Producer workshop gives teens practical beef industry knowledge and career options

About 15 youth, ages 13 to 18, attended the Aug. 9, 2022, Junior Beef Producer workshop at Carrington (North Dakota) Research Extension Center to learn about topics from beef nutrition to manure management to jobs available in the industry.

A woman wearing a green shirt and blue jeans stands in a pen with cattle while boys and girls look at the cattle and record information in notebooks.
Lisa Pederson, Central Grasslands Research Extension Center livestock specialist, explained to students how to evaluate cows at the Junior Beef Producer workshop held Aug. 9, 2022, at Carrington Research Extension Center.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
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CARRINGTON, N.D. — Youth learned about the ins and outs — and some of the in-betweens — of cattle and the beef industry during a workshop at the Carrington Research Extension Center.

About 15 youth, ages 13 to 18, attended the Aug. 9, 2022, North Dakota State University Extension Junior Beef Producer workshop to learn about topics ranging from beef nutrition to manure management to jobs available in the industry. It was the latter that made the Junior Beef Producer workshop unique, said Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension agriculture agent for Foster County.

“We wanted to give them some ideas about different opportunities for careers in the livestock industry,” Gale said. “I remember when I was a high school student, I had no idea about some of the job possibilities that were in front of me. It was really my second or third year of college that I saw some signs of the different options.”

A woman dressed in a black polo shirt and blue jeans stands in front of a manure compost heat and talks to a group of youth.
Mary Keena, Carrington (North Dakota) Research Extension Center livestock specialist, talks to youth at the North Dakota State University Extension Junior Beef Producer workshop, held Aug. 9, 2022, about composting manure and her job, which promotes stewardship on ranches and of the environment.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

Besides Gale, several NDSU Extension livestock specialists and a meat science expert talked to the youth about their jobs, and the participants listened to recordings from a veterinarian and a beef industry spokesperson who gave them a window into their careers.

“We need more people to have more people in agriculture,” said Karl Hoppe, Carrington Research Extension Center livestock systems specialist. "It’s important to talk about these jobs. The (number of) people who are needed in our food industry is staggering, and we need more people involved.”

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Besides talking to the youth about his job, Hoppe gave them a hands-on presentation about beef nutrition, talking to them in front of a concrete cattle bunk about the importance of feed quality and consistency in feeding times, while cattle watched from the back of the pen. After the feed presentation, Hoppe showed the workshop participants how to probe a large round hay bale. The kids then took turns using the motor-driven probe to remove samples of the hay from the bale.

Hanna Widicker, 13, the first volunteer to collect hay samples, shows and helps with chores on her parents’ James Creek Simmental ranch near Heaton, North Dakota. She wanted to beef up on her cattle industry knowledge so signed up for Junior Beef Producer workshop.

“I can learn more things," Widicker said, after she finished probing the bale.

Those things included a beef cattle reproduction session that included demonstrations and hands-on experience on learning how to evaluate if cows are in optimal condition for breeding, how and why composting manure is good for the ranch and the environment, and artificial insemination using a cattle model.

A man has his hand in a box that is used as a cow reproductive system model.
Tyler Kralicek, North Dakota State University Extension agriculture agent for Burleigh County, uses a model at the Carrington (North Dakota) Research Extension Center Youth Beef Producer workshop held on Aug. 9, 2022, to show participants how to artificially inseminate cows.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

Sisters Kylie Job, 13, and Kassidy Job, 15, both donned long, blue plastic gloves and tried their arms and hands at using the AI model. The girls’ parents own Job Ranch, which raises Red Angus, near Wilton, North Dakota.

“I have my own herd of three cattle,” Kylie said. She wanted to learn “how to raise them better and breed them better,” she said.

“I learned you need to work on nutrients, more than anything,” she said.

The workshop’s last session of the day was a presentation by Thomas Solwey, owner of the Custom Kut Meat Inc. plant in Carrington who gave the youth a tour and talked to them about the steps required to process beef, and Rob Maddock, American Meat Science Association technical service provider, who gave a meat cuts presentation in a cold storage locker, using a hanging beef to demonstrate.

Related Topics: AGRICULTURECATTLELIVESTOCKAGRICULTURE EDUCATIONNORTH DAKOTA
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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