New slate of beef ambassadors elected for Wyoming
Casper – With Wyoming’s cattle industry continuing to thrive, and even begin to expand following several years of drought, the Wyoming CattleWomen once again sponsored the Wyoming Beef Ambassador contest, where a slate of three ambassadors were selected to represent Wyoming.
Rachel Purdy of Pine Bluffs, Ty Shockley of Wheatland and Garrett Irene of Rock River endured the selection process and were chosen to represent the state.
Purdy, the first place finisher in the contest, says, “I’ve always been passionate about agriculture, especially animal agriculture, because that is my family’s industry.”
Shockley, a Wheatland native and a sophomore at the University of Wyoming, is studying to be an agricultural business consultant.
Irene is a senior at Rock River High School where he has a passion for welding technology.
“The CattleWomen are excited that these young folks will help represent our Wyoming beef industry during the next year,” Leslie Hendry, co-chairman of the Wyoming CattleWomen Beef Ambassador Program, says.
“Participants were very knowledgeable, and there was no doubt that FFA and 4-H had taught them to speak intelligently and with confidence,” Mary Owens, co-chairman of the Wyoming CattleWomen Beef Ambassador Program, says.
The Wyoming Beef Ambassadors will be visible at various events including their county fairs, Wyoming State Fair, Wyoming Stock Growers Association Cattle Industry Convention, local ag expos, Wyoming Ag In the Classroom Summer Institute and more. They will also conduct classroom education.
“The Wyoming CattleWomen are thankful to co-chairmen Leslie Hendry and Mary Owens for their enthusiastic leadership of this program,” Wyoming CattleWomen Beef-It-News Editor Marcia Campbell says. “Through their leadership, the number and quality of participants has increased. The format is interesting, and the topics relate to timely issues we face.”
As the first place finisher, Purdy will represent Wyoming at the National Beef Ambassador contest, to be held in September in Denver, Colo.
She was raised on a farm and ranch outside of Pine Bluffs and has been a part of the beef industry since she raised her own bottle calf at the age of nine.
“After I really got into raising cattle in 4-H, I was hooked on this great industry,” Purdy comments.
Purdy feels particularly passionate about the animal agriculture industry because it is constantly under attack by special interest groups.
“The opposition – like PETA and the Humane Society for the United States – is trying to misinform the public,” she says. “It really motivates me to want to correct misinformation and give consumers the real story.”
“I want the public to know why we vaccinate our cattle, why we tag them and why we handle them the way we do,” Purdy says. “My main goal this year is to try to correct the misinformation that is out there. Even though we are an ag state, we do come across a number of people within our borders who don’t understand the beef industry.”
“As a beef ambassador, I want to help get the word out about the program,” she continues. “I feel like this program could really grow, and I’m hoping to see a lot more students running for beef ambassador.”
She also notes that during the summer, she will be actively preparing for the national beef ambassador contest, hoping to serve also on the national level.
After serving as a Wyoming Beef Ambassador, Purdy aims to be active within the beef industry.
“I’m a sophomore at UW studying ag business,” Purdy explains. “I want to work in agricultural policy and trade after college.”
Purdy emphasizes that the beef industry not only sees difficulties with domestic advocacy groups but also from government groups in the form of regulations.
“We are facing policy issues and regulations that we have to follow,” she says. “It is a hard industry to be in, and I want to work to try to make it easier for producers policy-wise.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.