Emphasizing the young producer: Organization works to connect young people in agriculture
In December 2015, a group of young agriculturalists gathered at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, where they formed the Young Producers Assembly (YPA).
“We’ve had a couple of meetings since December,” says YPA Chairman Kendall Roberts of Cheyenne. “We’ve worked to develop our structure and means of operating.”
The organization’s leadership team has continued to meet throughout the spring to finalize details, including the mission and objectives.
“We want to have a united front on how YPA represents not only WSGA but also young cattlemen and women across the state,” Roberts comments.
YPA Vice Chairman James Sewell of Saratoga adds, “We’re really just trying to hone in on what we want to accomplish, what our objectives are and to get a more solid mission statement.”
From the ground up
YPA started from scratch in December, and Roberts notes that they hope to focus on providing growth and leadership opportunities, as well as the chance for social interaction.
“Everyone wants to get the ball rolling when we have an organization in its infancy,” she says, “but we didn’t really know how. We started with mission development and structure, and we’ve developed committees.”
Roberts also says that they want to make young people feel welcome to join the organization.
“We also want to sponsor or provide opportunities for education and outreach,” she says, “but we want to do it through fundraising and our own resources. We don’t want to pinch on WSGA’s budget. We are hoping to find means of sponsorship to host events and do other things.”
As they continue to grow and build, they are working around the goal of being the “best young producer organization by developing a forward-thinking group of future leaders.”
“The direction we’re going to present at the WSGA summer convention is that our final objective is to generate opportunities for young producers to be successful and passionate about the livestock industry in Wyoming,” Roberts says. “At our meeting in June during convention, we’ll approve our mission, vision and all the rest of the information.”
In their first convention since formation, Roberts says that YPA has worked with Zoetis to sponsor a Cattlemen’s College as part of the WSGA agenda.
“We’re going to have a one-day event that provides education and outreach with two speakers and some break-out educational sessions,” she explains. “We feel that the biggest issue we face as young producers – and as producers in general, is how to make a profit. We’re tackling that issue with the event.”
To provide information on profitability on the ranch, Dave Pratt will provide several presentations on ranching for profit.
“Dave Pratt is someone that we feel everyone can get something from, whether they’re new to the industry or an experienced rancher,” Roberts says.
“I’m most excited about having Dave Pratt come, and I think a lot of young people are, too,” Sewell adds. “We think he will be helpful. Young people are really interested in making profits, often more than preserving assets, because they don’t have a lot of assets to preserve. We’re more worried about building assets, and Dave Pratt has information that can help us.”
Sewell also notes that Pratt emphasizes a work-life balance and solid business management skills.
Kent Anderson of Zoetis will also present information on genetics as part of the Cattlemen’s College.
“We think this is a good start for YPA. We thought, why not have young livestock producers be a part of the convention and help put on this one?” Roberts comments. “These sessions will help us to get our name out there, and we’re thankful that Zoetis will help to sponsor us.”
As YPA grows, Sewell explains that they are optimistic that the organization will provide a way for young producers in Wyoming to network.
“One of the main reasons I got involved was to meet more young producers around the state,” he says. “I grew up in Wyoming and went to college here, but there are still a lot of people from around the state I don’t know who are involved in ag.”
He continues, “Building a network between young people who can help our businesses is important.”
Sewell also comments that YPA is focused on building membership and tailoring programs to the interests of its members.
“I’ve been reasonably active in the general membership of WSGA,” Sewell says, “but I think YPA will help facilitate helping other young producers come into the organization and feel comfortable being a part of this organization.”
YPA will hold their business meeting on June 2 at 4 p.m. to finalize the details related to the organization.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.