Fourteen students got an up-close look at the western Kansas livestock industry as part of the K-State Animal Sciences Leadership Academy (KASLA) premier program, held July 12-14 in southwest Kansas.
The group included high school and college students who had completed the traditional academy hosted in June on Kansas State University’s Manhattan campus.
The premier program, new this year, allowed students to further develop leadership skills, expand their industry knowledge and earn a greater appreciation for large-scale agricultural production.
“The KASLA premier program is an invaluable opportunity for students to improve their leadership skills, network with ag industry leaders and learn from the vast knowledge of livestock producers and businesses,” said Jason Paine, a participant from Hutchinson.
This year’s class included Emily Albright, Delia; Reid Beeman, Hamilton; Ethan Bellar, Howard; Kelsey Bradford, Leavenworth; Rayli Cunningham, Rosston, Oklahoma; Kord Curran, Farlington; Brooke Falk, Harveyville; Kayley Geesling, Turon; Anna Hixon, Belle Plaine; Trent Johnson, Moran; Cameron Kilgore, Atchison; Mallory Meek, Spring Hill; Jason Paine, Hutchinson; and Thomas Parsons, Dexter.
The trip included a visit with Greensburg Mayor Bob Dixon and former Kiowa County Commissioner Gene West. Attendees then travelled by bus to livestock operations and related businesses in southwest Kansas, including Gardiner Angus Ranch, Root-Mix, High Plains Journal, Boot Hill Museum, Royal Farms Dairy, Finney County Feeders, Tyson, Erehsman’s Packing, Cattle Empire, Max Jatz Excavation and Hy-Plains Feedyard.
Participants also took part in a leadership discussion over dinner with Sam and Janet Hands, and John and Marissa Kleystuber in Garden City.
“My favorite part of KASLA premier was the opportunity to experience all areas of cattle production from a cow-calf operation to the packing plant and each leg of the journey in between,” Paine said. “The commitment and passion each producer had for responsibly providing a quality product and serving the needs of others was evident as they shared their life stories.”
The academy is hosted by the K-State Department of Animal Sciences and Industry and sponsored by the Livestock and Meat Industry Council (LMIC) to develop young leaders within the livestock industry and prepare them for a successful future in the field.