It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since I served as a National Beef Ambassador. I was a senior in high school at the time, and the checkoff-funded program opened many doors for me as a young beef industry professional. More than that, the program took our team of youth ambassadors across the country to promote beef everywhere from the Boston Marathon to Congress to the World Ag Expo and everywhere in between.

Since then, funding opportunities for the national program have changed with fewer checkoff dollars available; however, it still exists today in a regional format, which engages college students to promote beef on campus and on a local platform.

For the most part, these regional programs select ambassadors based on a rigorous contest that includes a media interview, consumer promotion, education and outreach and issues response. Students are prepared to not only write a letter to the editor and serve beef samples at a grocery store demo, but they can also run a successful social media campaign, host a campus-wide promotional event and give a youth classroom presentation with a lesson plan that teaches kids about beef production, nutrition and more.

Registration is currently open for the Southeast Regional Beef Ambassador Training Workshop, which will be held on April 7. Open to youth between the ages of 14 and 18, the workshop aims to prepare youth for the upcoming Regional Beef Ambassador Contest to be held on July 14, 2018.

The deadline for registration is March 19 or until spots are filled, and the workshop will be held at the Upchurch Hall and Stanley Wilson Beef Teaching Center on the Auburn University.

To register potential workshop participants, send an email with the youth’s name, age, experiences, background supportive of a beef ambassador, chaperone(s) attending and the youth’s electronic contact information to Dr. Don Mulvaney at: [email protected] Use the word “Beef Ambassador” in the subject line of the email. Note, the registration fee is $40 with an added charge for chaperones participating in lunch.

According to a press release about the workshop, it is designed to prepare youth with the foundational skills, coaching and direction needed to compete in a Regional Contest in July. At the contest, a senior level state candidate may be selected to serve on a Regional Beef Ambassador Team. The program strives to provide an opportunity for youth to educate consumers and youth about beef nutrition, food safety, the economic value of the beef industry and stewardship practices of the beef industry.

“Our goal is to utilize our beef ambassadors to tell the beef production story to consumers and youth through promotion, education, media and the online environment. This program is essential because today’s youth are bombarded with anti-beef messages. Through the workshop, beef ambassadors in training will go into classrooms, daycares, after school programs and attend youth organization activities where they make presentations about their personal experiences with beef and the beef industry, including industry messages on nutrition, animal welfare, environment and other key topics.

Please, help spread the word about this opportunity to those who may be interested. Also, if your region has an upcoming beef ambassador event or contest to promote, feel free to email me the details at [email protected] I’m happy to post about these events on this blog because I truly value the energy and passion these young people have to offer. They are the future of this industry, and if we give them the right tools to succeed, they will be able to achieve anything as they enter into beef-related careers.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.