Four Nebraska Angus producers joined an elite group of American Angus Association members by attending the 10th annual Beef Leaders Institute (BLI) June 19-23. BLI is a complete pasture-to-plate experience for young leaders in the Angus industry that explores quality genetics, performance programs, genomic technology, herd health, Certified Angus Beef® (CAB) and much more. This year’s class consisted of nearly 20 individuals from all areas of the country.
Individuals from Nebraska were Jason Jagels with Jagels Land and Cattle, Davenport, Neb.; Rick Marlatt with TK Angus, Wood Lake, Neb.; and Kristi Poss with Poss Angus, Scotia, Neb.
“BLI is a very knowledgeable and informing experience,” said Drew Feller, regional manager for the American Angus Association. “It taught me a lot about all aspects of the beef industry. BLI offered me the opportunity to gain knowledge about what I can bring back to my region and what the consumer needs and how we need to breed cattle. It’s our responsibility as beef producers to make that product for consumers.”
The five-day event, funded by the Angus Foundation, began in Saint Joseph, Mo., at the Association headquarters. Participants interacted with staff and learned how each department works to serve its nearly 25,000 members.
For anyone with a full-time job, it is a big commitment to agree to go on a trip for an entire week. For Jagels it is a commitment worthwhile.
“It’s a big commitment, but I think the networking opportunity and seeing the whole industry in a short amount of time with industry professionals is well worth it,” Jagels said. “It’s an opportunity that I think everybody should strongly consider applying for.”
BLI toured throughout the Midwest and ended in Wooster, Ohio, at the CAB headquarters. Along the way, participants were also able to visit GeneSeek Neogen Operations in Lincoln, Neb.; Feller & Co. Cattle Feeder in Wisner, Neb.; Greater Omaha Packing Company, Inc. in Omaha, Neb.; Trans Ova in Sioux City, Iowa; a Sysco distribution center in Cleveland, Ohio; and a retail tour at Giant Eagle’s Market District Supermarket in Cleveland, Ohio.
Caitlyn Brandt, event coordinator for the American Angus Association, explains that BLI targets young leaders in the Angus industry, ages 25-45, and gives them opportunities to see all sectors of the industry and how Angus plays a role in each of them.
“BLI is designed to provide Angus producers the opportunity to see all sectors of the beef industry after cattle leave their farms,” Brandt said. “By having the chance to network with other producers, feeders, packers, processors, retailers and other industry experts in the areas of genetics, reproduction and marketing, participants go home with knowledge and information that provides better insight into making production decisions on their operation.”
The week spent with other producers and networking with experts in the industry allows participants to form friendships that extend beyond the trip.
“BLI exceeded my expectations,” said Poss. “It definitely opened up new friendships and relationships in the Angus industry that I had not even thought were possible.”
Marlatt said the opportunity for cattle producers to gain off-farm learning experience is important for the progression of the industry.
“I would be very quick to encourage anyone to attend BLI,” Marlatt said. “Some people, may have different experiences than myself, but ranchers often get too focused on what they’re doing and what they do at their operation. Going on an off-the-farm trip gives you an opportunity and forces you into situations where you see things you’re not accustomed to and what isn’t normal to your everyday thought. You stimulate the thought process so you can bring back new ideas and technology to your operation.”
A complete list of 2017 BLI participants follows. For more information on how to participate in the leadership event, visit www.angus.org. Applications for the 2018 class will be available online starting next winter.