Wyo students claims position as National Beef Ambassador
Laramie – A University of Wyoming sophomore will travel the state and the country throughout 2010, educating the public about the value of beef to their diets.
Becky Vraspir, who grew up in northeastern Nebraska, was appointed to the five-member 2010 National Beef Ambassador Team at the mid-October competition in Fort Smith, Ark.
“I grew up involved in 4-H in a small town in northeastern Nebraska,” says Vraspir of her upbringing. Although her immediate family didn’t live on a farm or ranch, she says she has an aunt and uncle with a cow/calf operation, with which she helped during the summer, and one set of grandparents had cattle, hogs and row crops while the other set ran the local grocery story. “There were ties there to both ends of the food chain,” she adds.
Currently Vraspir is a sophomore at UW studying animal science and business and production. “I’ve always liked animals, and I knew I wanted to work in the food industry. I was more drawn to the production side rather than processing,” she says of her education choices.
Vraspir became interested in the Wyoming Beef Ambassador contest when a past Wyoming and National Beef Ambassador came to talk to her professional ag sorority – Sigma Alpha. “I thought it sounded like a good opportunity, so I entered the Wyoming contest last spring,” she says.
During her time as Wyoming Beef Ambassador Vraspir put together an educational presentation in preparation for the national contest.
Wyoming CattleWomen State Beef Ambassador Chairman Judy West says she gave the presentation to various audiences and put together a portfolio of what she did, including the lesson plan, photos of classroom presentations and evaluations from class teachers.
“She had a very unique educational presentation, and I think that had a lot to do with her placement on the national team,” says West. “Her topic was beef nutrition, which she presented to third- through fifth-graders. She had the idea of using action heroes, which were all cattle, wearing capes and letters on their chests.”
West says the five cattle represented protein, zinc, iron, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12. “The focus was that beef provides these essential nutrients,” she explains.
The national competition was more in-depth than the state contest, says Vraspir, with a wide range of topics.
“For the consumer promotion part we were given a nutritional label and a box of beef tips and the consumers would ask questions about preparation time and nutritional benefits,” she explains.
West also traveled to the contest in Arkansas, and she says the competition was really strong.
“We had representatives from 16 states, and they were all very well-prepared,” says West. “It was a great competition, and I felt that Becky was very well-prepared over all four areas. She’s very self-motivated, and she worked very hard at her goal and is excited to be part of the team.”
Of joining the national team, she says she’ll do a lot of the same things she’s done as Wyoming ambassador, just with a broader audience. “I’ll get to travel all over the country, which is a great experience,” she comments, adding her potential travel destinations include Washington, D.C. during the legislative session, the Boston Marathon, the New York State Fair and San Antonio, Texas for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention.
“We’re going to travel to places where it’s important we advocate for beef,” she adds.
Her teammates come from around the country, including Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and California.
The 2010 team’s first destination is Certified Angus Beef headquarters in Iowa, where they’ll study issues response and consumer communication. “It’s more in-depth training of what we’ve already been doing,” says Vraspir.
As far as where she’s headed following school, Vraspir says, “My options after college are endless right now. Through being a National Beef Ambassador I’ll meet a lot of people, which will open up a lot of opportunities.”
Of 2010 and her term as a National Beef Ambassador, she says, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to travel and talk about something I’m really passionate about. It’s a great opportunity, and I’m looking forward to making the most of it.”
Vraspir says if anyone ages 17 to 20 years old is interested in competing in next spring’s Wyoming Beef Ambassador contest they can contact her at email@example.com.
Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.