Consumers are further away from how their food is produced than ever before with farm and ranch families comprising less than 2 percent of the U.S. population. Now, more than ever, there’s a need and opportunity for the agriculture community to tell our story. In honor of National Ag Day, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is sharing the stories of two advocates who play different roles in the industry, but both understand the importance of inspiring the next generation to get involved.
Third-generation cattle producer Blake Poole says his main passion has always been to raise cattle and continue the legacy of his family farm in Haralson County, Georgia. “When I was in college I worked my way through animal science classes, going on farms, learning as much as I could about cattle because that was my heart and goal,” said Poole.
So, in addition to being a walk-on football star at Auburn University, Poole majored in both political science and agriculture literacy. He also completed the Beef Checkoff-funded Masters of Beef Advocacy Program, which provides members the tools and resources needed to become a strong advocate and answer questions about beef and raising cattle.
“I enjoy educating anyone who wants to learn about the industry through my firsthand experience in being a cattleman,” said Poole. “I think it’s important to talk to people about the daily experiences I go through being a young farmer. My advice is to go to a farm in-person rather than learning about it on TV or the internet.”
Poole has been involved in agriculture most of his life but recognizes that it’s new for many and how important it is that the youth of today know where their food comes from. Because of that, he encourages people to learn about beef production and get involved, no matter their background.
“You may not come from a farm. You might have been born and raised in the city,” said Poole. “But there are opportunities for almost everyone in agriculture and it’s exciting to watch newcomers fall in love with raising cattle.”
While it’s important to know how everything works from the gate it’s also important to understand how beef gets to your plate, and meat scientist Brianna Buseman has dedicated her life to always learning more. Even though her family raised cattle and sheep, Buseman wanted to take her knowledge of the industry to the next level by attending South Dakota State University where she majored in ag business and animal science, then later earning her master’s degree in animal/meat science from the University of Idaho.
Along with completing the Masters of Beef Advocacy Program, Brianna has been selected as a member of the inaugural class of NCBA’s Beef Checkoff-funded Trailblazers program. The new program is the next level in beef industry advocacy, identifying top level advocates and helping them grow their audiences and more effectively tell their story.
“I realized that not everyone has had the opportunity to see where their food comes from, but most people have eaten a cheeseburger,” said Buseman. “I feel fortunate to be able to bridge that gap, as a producer and a meat scientist, when I engage with consumers.”
Today, Buseman is a Youth Meat Animal Extension Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska — Lincoln where she educates 4H, FFA students and adults on meat science and career opportunities in the field.
“Almost any interest can tie back to the ag industry,” said Buseman. “If you’re interested in art or music, advertising for various meat products is a career path. If it’s engineering or technology, that’s growing all the time in the ag industry. Find what you’re interested in and know there are no limits.”
The agriculture industry is one that echoes the demands of today, all while sustaining a life for tomorrow. Whether your part of the future generation of farmers and ranchers or a consumer, these two beef advocates demonstrate that all you need to get involved is effort and the drive to learn more.
Applications for the next class of the annual Trailblazers program will open November 2022.