Every spring, the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) brings young adults from across the country together for its National Youth Leadership Conference. The goal of this conference is to help NJSA members develop their skills as future leaders of the swine industry. It also allows members to network with other peers and industry professionals.
“NJSA is the largest youth livestock organization with more than 12,000 members,” said Bryn Jensson, producer outreach and marketing manager for the Pork Checkoff. “The Checkoff supports both NJSA and the National Youth Leadership Conference because it is important to help develop and expose youth to future careers in the swine industry.”
This year, the conference was held in Fort Collins, Colorado. Fifty participants from 16 states came together for three days. While at the conference, attendees toured a 75,000-head cattle feedlot. They also visited JBS headquarters in Greeley, Colorado. JBS is the leading processor of beef, pork and lamb in the United States. There, they were able to learn about pork processing technologies and taste-test pork products.
A goal of this year’s National Youth Leadership Conference was to give students the skills they need to advocate for the agriculture industry. Claire Masker, manager of public relations for the Pork Checkoff, trained the students in conducting “Conversations with EASE.” The EASE training was developed by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, which the Checkoff also supports.
Jensson took the training to the next level by providing real-life examples of questions that consumers have raised about modern agriculture. Conference attendees role-played how they would answer questions.
“The speakers were very inspiring and encouraged us to get more involved in the swine industry,” said Hannah Frobose, an NJSA member from Bowling Green, Ohio. “It was also fun to get to see other kids who are active and passionate about the swine industry.”
The NJSA was established in 2000. The organization is devoted to helping its members reach their desired potential through educational opportunities, leadership opportunities, scholarship programs and swine exhibition opportunities at many national and regional junior shows and conferences. To learn more, visit Nationalswine.com/njsa.