From Aug. 1-4, more than 150 National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) members took part in the annual Leaders Engaged in Angus Development (LEAD) Conference held in Nashville, Tennessee. The four-day conference was packed with workshops, farm tours, the opportunity to see some of the city’s most iconic sights and networking within the breed. The goal of the conference is to help develop leadership qualities in Angus youth so they can become better producers, advocates and supporters of the breed and agricultural industry as a whole. This learning opportunity gives juniors the chance to meet with industry professionals, ask questions and improve their knowledge base.
“The conference truly opened the eyes of our juniors, helping them to see a side of agriculture they have never seen before or visiting some of the most prestigious Angus operations in the country,” said Jera Pipkin, NJAA membership director. “The kids left here with a renewed perspective of themselves and tools for their leadership toolbox.”
This year’s theme “Angus: Live From Nashville” rang true as members experienced the city’s historic downtown area and attended a show at the Grand Ole Opry. The junior members also paid a visit to the headquarters of CKE Restaurants, the operators of Carl’s Jr.® and Hardee’s®. They were given the chance to see their test kitchen, state-of-the-art technology and hear about how they market their products. Attendees even got a chance to tour Ingram Angus and Deer Valley Farms where they saw a freeze branding demonstration, participated in various educational sessions and learned about the different challenges in starting an operation. A dance at Deer Valley Farms on the last night of the conference gave everyone a chance to have fun and celebrate. Throughout the event, the six retiring National Junior Angus Board (NJAB) officers gave their retiring thoughts and passed the torch onto the new team.
“The LEAD conference is a chance for the kids to learn about different aspects of the industry, as well as the culture of the cities we tour as well,” said Brody Fitzgerald, NJAA leadership director. “You don’t understand how many connections you can make until you come to this conference. When it comes to LEAD, I think for me personally, it was all about the connections I made along the way. Also the memories tied to the culture of the areas we toured as well.”
During this event, attendees had the opportunity to interact with the NJAB and make connections with other Angus youth. They took part in leadership workshops and participated in team building exercises organized by the NJAB who planned the conference alongside the events and education department. The location and lineup of events change every year and requires plans to be made months in advance.
“It’s a great opportunity for juniors to develop their leaderships skills, network within their age groups and further those connections, as well as getting to learn a lot more about the industry itself from all different aspects,” said Madeline Bauer, events coordinator for the American Angus Association. “Getting to see them have fun and make friendships that are going to last them a lifetime is really worthwhile. All the hard work that gets put into events, seeing the kids light up and say I’ve never seen this before or that’s really cool, makes it really satisfactory.”
This year was a great success with attendees from all over the country ranging from ages 14-21.