Meet Arizona’s 2016 Beef Ambassadors: Molli Griffin and Kailee Zimmerman

This week we are excited to feature our 2016 Arizona Beef Ambassador’s Molli Griffin and Kailee Zimmerman. This article was originally printed in the August 2016 Arizona Cattlelog.ASC Beef Ambassador Logo

Arizona Beef Ambassadors are passionate youth advocates for the Arizona beef community. The winners are the official youth representatives of the Arizona State Cowbelles (ASC) and the beef community. The winners will travel the state sharing the story of beef from pasture to plate with consumers and students and will participate in the national contest.

beef ambassadors

Pictured: Molli Griffin, 2016 Senior Arizona Beef Ambassador, Kailee Zimmerman, 2016 Junior Arizona Beef Ambassador, and Mackenzie Kimbro, 2015 Senior Arizona Beef Ambassador

The purpose of the program is to provide Arizona consumers and students with positive nutritional, economic and environmental stewardship information related to beef consumption and the beef community. Participants learn how to effectively address issues and misconceptions, accurately share industry practices and promote the versatile uses of beef.

In addition to receiving recognition for winning the Arizona Beef Ambassador Program, the senior winner receives a $1500 cash scholarship, awarded at the end of their term, and the opportunity to travel to statewide ASC and beef industry events. The Junior Beef Ambassador winner receives recognition and $50 cash award.

First up, meet Molli Griffin, 2016 Senior Arizona Beef Ambassador.

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AC: Tell us about yourself.
MG: I am a fourth-generation cattle rancher from Globe. This year I will be finishing up an Associates Degree at Gila Pueblo College. I plan on enrolling at the University of Arizona in the fall of 2017, to pursue a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I have been and continue to be actively involved in FFA. I have been working with the Globe FFA Chapter on projects, contests and fundraising, and have been asked to assist with facilitating leadership events at the state level. This fall I will receive my American FFA Degree. I am currently working as a vet assistant at Copper Hills Veterinary Services, while I complete my Associate’s Degree.

AC: What do you think the biggest misconception consumers have about beef?
MG: I believe the biggest misconception that consumers have about beef is that it is not a healthy food choice in general. Whether they believe that beef is fattening, promotes clogged arteries, leads to heart disease, or is full of antibiotics or growth hormones, the general message in many media outlets is one of reducing or eliminating beef from the public diet. The only way to confront the steady stream of misinformation is to continue to promote the truth to consumers and the public, and work to ensure that the conversation is balanced.

AC: How do you plan to relate to and address consumers when you interact with them?
MG: I believe that consumers will relate to ideas and tips that focus on healthy food choices, spending sensibly, saving time, and helping them feel connected to where their food comes from.

AC: What tips do you have for ranchers for advocating?
MG: I believe that everyone involved in beef production needs to create high quality, nutritious products that appeal to the consumer. Getting involved and helping to tell the story of their beef locally, statewide, nationally (and internationally) is a key component to the future of the industry. Getting on board with social media sites and connecting with others, debunking some of the stereotypes and myths about the industry, as well as sharing the positive aspects of working and living on the land is another pathway. Finally, connecting with local schools and universities, and offering to host groups of students for a field day or work projects, helps build understanding and knowledge for students that might otherwise not have an opportunity to participate in the beef production story.

AC: What’s your favorite fact to share about beef?
MG: My favorite fact is that there really is no waste! I love that 99% of a cow is utilized for meat and other products.

AC: Any final comments?
MG: I am honored and privileged to serve as the Arizona Beef Ambassador. I am looking forward to spending the next year meeting others in our industry, learning more about beef in Arizona, connecting with consumers and sharing the beef story.

Next, meet Kailee Zimmerman, our 2016 Junior Beef Ambassador.13483028_1382985288383632_1756587551747925950_o

AC: Tell us about yourself.
KZ: My name is Kailee Zimmerman. I live in a small town west of Phoenix called Waddell. I am 15 years old and will be a sophomore at Trivium Preparatory Academy this year. Besides maintaining a 4.0 GPA in all honors classes, serving as the president of the youth organization at my church and being an active member of Arizona Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo Association, I have found my passion in the beef industry. My ancestors settled in the southeastern part of Arizona when it was just a territory. A successful Angora goat operation transitioned into a working cattle ranch. Our family raised polled Herefords that thrived in the valley of the Aravaipa Canyon in Klondyke. Now we raise show cattle and exhibit them all around the state. I have enjoyed being a member of Odyssey 4H and 2T Ranch Show team for 8 years. In the future, I would like to pursue a degree in Ag Law so that I will be able to be an ambassador and defender of the industry and people I am so proud of.

AC: What do you think is the biggest misconception consumers have about beef?
KZ: Many consumers believe organic, antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef to be the healthiest and that other beef products might be harmful or less nutritious to the consumer. Studies have shown that in a lean cut of beef, we are able to receive nearly half of our daily protein needed! A 3oz serving of lean beef has less than 10 grams of fat, less than 95 mg of cholesterol and provides you with important nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins. These nutrients give you energy, help you maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and help you maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Organic beef means that the meat is fed certified organic feed, is antibiotic free and is not given substances to promote growth. In a world concerned about the humane treatment of animals, why would we deprive a sick animal the treatment it needs to heal and grow? Why would we not try to maximize the harvest of beef when our ranch lands are shrinking and more people are dependent on the beef that is produced? Sustainability is a huge concern facing ranchers today. In addition, most beef is finished with grain. Even cattle that are “pasture-raised” are often supplemented with grain to ensure that meat is desirable to the consumer. Studies have shown that grass-fed beef contains a slightly higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids, but is higher in saturated fat and trans-fat. There isn’t much difference from a health standpoint. However, there is a significant difference in the taste of the beef that is grass-fed versus grain-fed. It is a personal preference.

AC: How do you plan to relate to and address consumers when interacting with them?
KZ: I will be honest with the consumers about the “Pasture to Plate” story. It is important for them to know that their food does not just appear in the grocery store. I hope that I will be able to answer questions and clear up some incorrect information, leaving the consumers feeling more comfortable about the meat they are eating and the people who produced it.

AC: What tips do you have for ranchers for advocating?
KZ: In a lot of ways, the beef industry is the “best-kept secret.” Social media has grown into a huge web of communication. People no longer go to the source, but use their friend’s recent post to form an opinion or get information about something. The world is getting more and more distanced from where their food comes from. As an industry, we must work hard to promote the right information. It is important to be open about what we are doing so that rumors are not spread. We need to use social media as a tool to do this. The most important thing is just to share the good news – American farmers and ranchers produce healthy, high-quality food that feeds the whole world. They take pride in what they produce and feel they have a responsibility to take care of the land and the animals on it. We have a pretty great story – why not share it?

AC: What is your favorite fact to share about beef?
KZ: My favorite fact to share about beef is the values and work ethic that are emulated by the people that produce it! Not only is beef an incredibly nutritional option for our diet, but the story behind how it gets to our plate is also fascinating!

AC: Any final comments?
KZ: I know without a doubt that the beef industry is essential to the world. I have such admiration for the men and women who work tirelessly to feed not only their family but also families everywhere. They feel it is their duty to care for all of God’s creations as they are stewards of the land and the cattle that they raise.

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