The 2009 class of the KLA Young Stockmen's Academy graduated December 4 at the KLA Convention in Wichita. Fort Dodge Animal Health partnered with KLA to host 20 members for a series of four seminars throughout the year.
During the first session, attendees were exposed to the legislative process, media and services provided by KLA. Interview training, presented by KLA staff and WIBW-Topeka farm broadcasters Kelly Lenz and Greg Akagi, illustrated the importance of beef producers becoming advocates and delivering a positive message on behalf of their industry. The group visited KLA headquarters and participated in a financial planning seminar, led by Kennedy and Coe, LLC, that focused on debt management and planning for the future of the family business. The class toured the Capitol and attended a Senate Agriculture Committee meeting. Attendees also took part in KLA's legislative meeting, where they and other members determined positions on individual bills under consideration by the Kansas Legislature.
The second installment took the group to western Kansas where they spent two days touring beef operations to gain a better understanding of various industry segments. C-Bar Ranch near Brownell was the first stop on the tour. Ranch owner Steve Maier visited with YSA members about his cow-calf and seedstock operation and fee hunting business. Jim Meetz and Derek Martin hosted the group at Lane County Feeders near Dighton. Participants received a firsthand look at an electronic cattle management system, which utilizes a camera and ultrasound to sort calves into marketing groups. YSA members made a stop at Royal Farms Dairy in Garden City and Seibert Feeding near Macksville. Kyle Averhoff, dairy manager and partner, gave an overview of the industry and explained some of the challenges dairymen face today, including decreasing milk prices and labor availability. Gary and Dale Seibert discussed how they manage highly stressed cattle at their backgrounding operation. To see firsthand how beef is processed and readied for delivery to the world's consumers, YSA members also toured the National Beef plant at Dodge City.
The YSA class went to the Kansas City area for the third tour of the year. Fort Dodge Animal Health hosted the class at its offices in Overland Park. Fort Dodge Senior Marketing Manager Paul Parker and Vice President of Livestock & Equine Business Scott Bormann gave the group an inside look at the company and the animal health industry. To gain a better understanding of the link between the processing plant and the consumer's plate, the group toured SYSCO Food Services and Kansas City Steak Company. SYSCO distributes beef cuts through 86 facilities, grossing more from boxed beef sales than any other item sold. The distribution center in Kansas City ships out 10 truckloads of beef per week. Kansas City Steak Company has a mail-order business and sells beef products on QVC, a home shopping channel. YSA members further saw how beef is marketed over the counter and in the meatcase with stops at McDonald's and Whole Foods Market. The group also toured the Kansas City Board of Trade and heard from staff at Bartlett and Company about cattle and grain risk management.
The final YSA session took place at the KLA Convention held December 3-4 in Wichita, which provided participants the opportunity to interact with KLA members from every segment of the industry. YSA members got a firsthand look into the inner workings of the association by attending the KLA board meeting. The group also took part in the policy process, attending committee and council meetings where members discussed issues affecting their business interests. Immediately prior to the convention, YSA members received their Master's of Beef Advocacy, following an in-depth media training session with NCBA Executive Director of Communications Darin Williams.
The 2009 class includes Paige Alexander, Satanta; Chris Boyd, Isabel; Sharon Breiner, Manhattan; Parry Briggs, Emporia; Clint Bryant, Arkansas City; Travis Bryant, Penokee; Kyle Casey, Leoti; Garet Farney, Manhattan; Brandon Greenwood, Wamego; Abbie Grossnicklaus, Mound City; Spencer Jacobs, Manhattan; Trisha Janssen, Geneseo; Derik Klaassen, Newton; Tiffany Lee, Leavenworth; Mitch Mayer, Alma; Elissa Mullinix, El Dorado; Clem Neely, Chanute; Erik Peterson, Lindsborg; Caleb Strauss, Junction City; and Andrew Sylvester, Wamego.