When average Americans picture a beef farmer, they might think of an older man with bad tan lines, wearing a beat up ball cap, overalls and boots, driving a rusty truck. However, the reality of what constitutes a true beef farmer is so much more. Many Americans do not know that there is a younger, newer generation of agricultural entrepreneurs whose jobs will someday be to feed America, and this modern generation takes their responsibilities of raising beef very seriously.
While an immense amount of McDonald’s cheeseburgers and a heavy supply of beef jerky is sold every day, a person may be fooled into thinking that ranchers are thriving; the reality of the situation is that beef farmers are becoming more scarce as time goes on. Therefore, what needs to be done in order to inspire young kids to begin a journey in the agricultural industry? What needs to be done to teach youth about raising beef, and keep them on this path which can be a challenging, yet rewarding, one?
There are many great programs in our community such as FFA and 4-H that were created and put in place to help kids go further with their agricultural related passions. These have been solid mainstays for the agricultural community. But, there are certain factors that may keep youth from participating and growing through these organizations. Some factors may include lack of funds, limited amounts of experience, absence of a local organization or just simply not knowing where to start.
Thankfully, there is an amazing program that youth in the five state area can access in order to start and progress the dream of starting their very own beef cattle herd. This certain program is one that I believe to be the best of its kind. It is called the Minnesota Youth Beef Experience Program, also known as MYBEP. MYBEP is a hands-on program that aids youth in getting started with cattle through the gift of a heifer and the formation of a mentorship. This program is highlighted at the Minnesota Beef Expo every year, and this year, the 2019 Minnesota Beef Expo will be held Oct. 17-20. Ten heifers from six different breeds will be available.
In order to apply, a youth must be within the ages of 12-16, must have a place to house a heifer and should live in either Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wisconsin. If a person is selected to be in the program, he or she would receive a heifer that is donated by an experienced cattle person. The youth would then work closely with the heifer donors/mentors to learn the ways of the cattle industry. Along with receiving a heifer and a personal mentor, one would also get a starter pack to help begin the MYBEP journey. The tools provided in the starter pack may change every year, depending on the generosity of companies that donate. Typically, a recipient would receive a show stick, show halter, rope halter and matching neck tie, Andis cattle clippers, 100 lbs. of Purina Show Chow feed and two straws of semen donated by Minnesota Select Sires. These generous donations are more than enough to kick start a young person’s adventure in the cattle industry.
I, personally, have reaped the benefits of this program.
I received a Charolais heifer at the 2018 Minnesota Beef Expo, and I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge from raising and showing my heifer. I previously had little experience with beef cattle; this program helped me grow into the person I am today.
My heifer donors helped me with the processes of breeding my heifer, clipping for shows, choosing the correct feeding plan, maintaining my heifer’s health, and so much more. By working with my mentors and raising my heifer, Phoebe, I have not only become a stronger person, but I have also made life-long connections with various experts in the industry.
The application process is not difficult, but it should be taken seriously. You can apply online at mnbeefexpo.com. Look for the MYBEP tab on the website, and read up on what this program has to offer. If you are interested in beef cattle and have a dream to begin raising them, this program is definitely for you.
If you have a commitment to agriculture and are ready to get your hands dirty, I encourage you to apply. Your application should be submitted by Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. It takes determination and hard work to reach this dream, whether you receive a heifer or not. I would encourage you to reach out and experience the process of the program. Remember, all of our dreams can come true, if only we have the courage to achieve them.