Looking Ahead: Supporting Tomorrow’s Leaders
Three ways Certified Angus Beef promotes leadership and growth for the next generation within the beef industry.
by Maddy Rohr, 2023 producer communications intern
September 29, 2023
Raising the best beef is only possible with the best people. Relationships are the foundation of the brand, which is why Certified Angus Beef (CAB) prioritizes the people who will one day supply it and lead the industry.
“Certified Angus Beef is investing in programs to support future Angus producers and beef industry leaders to continue marketing the best beef for generations to come,” says Nicole Erceg, director of communications for the brand.
Through internships, events and scholarships, the next generation of beef leaders can look for support from CAB to develop their skills, build a strong foundation of knowledge and gain financial assistance to pursue their goals.
Internships That Matter
CAB internships give students the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to real-world projects and initiatives.
Starting her CAB career as a 2019 producer communications intern, Kylee Sellnow has progressed to her current role of senior content manager. Sellnow’s first summer in Wooster guided her on application of an agricultural communications degree to a full-time job, and fed her passion for the beef industry.
“I was blown away by the work happening in Wooster and why they do what that they do,” Sellnow says. “Twelve weeks of capturing farm and ranch families’ stories and engaging with chefs really opened my eyes beyond ‘telling your story’ and I actually started to understand what that meant, what that could look like.”
Sellnow describes her role now as a beef storyteller, with content creation ranging from photography and videography to social media and written stories. She supports projects direct-to-consumer as well as business-to-business communications.
From internship to current, the roles have reversed and Sellnow manages communications interns. She said she strives to create a positive, valuable experience that sets interns up for success in their future careers.
“Interns are only in-office for a short while, but we hope that they feel like this is a second home for them for nine to 12 weeks, and they can walk away with experiences and work they’re proud of,” Sellnow says. “The internship is customizable to their interests and that makes each one unique.”
Lindsay Runft was an events and education intern in 2009 and returned in 2022 as the director of producer communications. In her current role, Runft leads communication strategy and efforts for the production audience.
“CAB has a phenomenal reputation for being progressive and a leader in the beef industry,” Runft says. “I had such a great experience in my summer internship, and with robust responsibilities really felt like I was part of something bigger than myself.”
Then and now, Runft says CAB interns can expect to be a contributing member of the team with projects that will not only fit their interests and skill set but also push them to grow personally and professionally.
With multiple communications internships–brand communications, public relations, social media, producer communications and studio production–selected students get a customizable experience to help guide their future career. Interested students can find the application at CertifiedAngusBeef.com/recruiting in early October.
Events for a Full Beef Experience
Youth Beef Leaders Seminar (YBLS) is an exclusive event for young leaders in the beef industry. Attendees get three days of hands-on learning at CAB’s Culinary Center in Wooster, Ohio.
“Each year when we welcome students, we tell them to look around the room because there are people there who they will work with one day,” says Kara Lee, CAB director of producer engagement. The event offers networking with peers and CAB staff, professional growth and an inside look at the brand.
CAB interns and top Colvin Scholarship recipients are invited as well as the new National Junior Angus Association Board of Directors, Miss American Angus, Collegiate Beef Advocates, and Canadian Junior Angus Association (CJAA). Additionally, students may apply to attend YBLS.
“The best part of being here with my fellow peers is learning from them,” says Paxton Sullivan, 2022 attendee. “We all have different interests, backgrounds and experiences that really shape the way we do things and forming connections is one way we put ourselves on a path to success.”
Trevor Johnson, 2022 attendee, says he knew what CAB stood for and what the brand does for the industry, but didn’t realize how in depth it is and the levels of involvement that it takes to execute a brand this big.
“There’s a lot of good education that goes on in the classroom, but I think it’s critical to step out of the classroom to tie that together with industry involvement,” Johnson says. “My experience at YBLS has incorporated time in the meat lab, learning more about consumer and producer involvement with the brand and how to build a bridge between the two, and learning about how what we do in production affects the consumer.”
Carmen White, a past CJAA attendee says she enjoyed the hands-on portion in the meat lab.
“As an agricultural economics major, we don’t get to cut meat very often,” she says. “It was also eye-opening to taste the difference between USDA grades, including CAB traditional and CAB Prime.”
YBLS applications open in October 2023 for interested college students pursing a degree in animal science, meat science, food science, agricultural communications, business, economics or other agriculture related fields.
More Than Just Scholarships
The Colvin Scholarship Fund supports students pursuing careers in production, meat science, agricultural business and marketing by continuing involvement in the cattle industry. Students selected are passionate about their education, agriculture and community involvement.
“Overall, each category is looking for a leader looking to make an impact on the beef industry,” says Danielle Matter, CAB director of brand experience and education.
Forest Francis, 2022 Graduate Colvin Scholarship top recipient, says that earning the scholarship has provided more than just financial support.
“Not only did the Colvin Scholarship help me financially to help pay for school, but also to be able to travel to the CAB Annual Conference and YBLS,” Francis says. “The networking opportunities that I’ve had have been countless and I think that more than anything it has been a phenomenal experience.”
Scholarships are available in three categories: production agriculture, undergraduate and graduate. In 2022, more than $70,000 were awarded to 20 college students, with the top scholarship award in each category reaching $7,500.
Francis recommends starting early on applications, which open in March. He says to explain thoroughly and openly explain your future career goals, interests or research.
Investing today in the next generation helps inspire and educate youth who are the future ranchers, chefs, and beef industry professionals. CAB fosters a community of relationships and support by connecting tomorrow’s pioneers with today’s leaders to help secure a positive future for beef.
Graduate Awards (Sidebar)
Colorado State University Graduate Fellowship
The CAB Graduate Fellowship with Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences works with students looking to advance the beef industry through meat science, animal science, sustainability or animal care research. This award provides unique educational experiences with CAB, including invitations to YBLS, Feeding Quality Forum, Master of Brand Awareness program and other opportunities to interact with CAB, while pursuing a graduate degree.
“The CSU graduate fellowship is in not only in partnership with a premier four-year university that has a rich legacy in high quality beef research and animal welfare, but also benefits some of the brightest graduate students whom are specifically interested in making the best beef even better,” says Dr. Daniel Clark, CAB meat scientist.
VanStavern Beef Quality Award
Honoring Dr. Bob VanStavern upon his passing in 2020, the mentorship fund was founded to honor his legacy with CAB. Dr. VanStavern spent his career as a meat scientist at Ohio State University and was directly involved in establishing the original quality parameters for the CAB brand in 1978.
This award and scholarship recognizes a student presenting research at the American Meat Association Reciprocal Meat Conference relevant to high quality beef supply or demand.
“These awards continue to foster excitement and engagement around beef quality and related research fields,” Dr. Clark says. “As consumers continue to demand high quality beef products, it is imperative that we as an industry, continue to put an emphasis on supplying the demand by focusing on high quality genetics and management practices. The research that these awards support will foster this focus for the next generation.”
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