The Beef on AZ Beef Council Internships

In March of 2017 I was just your average college student: persistently bugging my professor for more work with cattle out at the feedlot, telling every high school student (and even some 10 year olds) how amazing college (the University of Arizona, of course) and Animal Science is, working at a cattle sale barn, spending every paycheck on my horse’s never ending credit line, dreaming of being back out on the ranch, and making plans for graduate school and a future in the beef community… ok, so maybe not your average college student. But, I was just going through my spring semester with a page long list of all the possibilities for my rapidly approaching summer when my old agriculture teacher, my boyfriend, my best friend, a professor, and several others all told me to apply for the Arizona Beef Council Internship. I looked it up, saw social media, and closed the screen. But after thinking, praying, and, I admit, mostly persuasion, I applied. A phone call interview, follow-up with references (the plus of working for cowgirls in high school is they are very stubborn, very persuasive, and thus the perfect reference), and a few months later, I arrived at the office in downtown Phoenix. Yes, DOWNTOWN PHOENIX! I said a quick farewell to dreams of cool weather and countrysides, then quickly smiled with astonishment and excitement that it was honestly me being blessed with this incredible opportunity to intern for the Arizona Beef Council. This is how the next nine weeks went; well, a very condensed version anyway. (I invite you to read the past AZ Beef blogs to learn more!)

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The ability to work on ranches and be directly involved in the beef community has fueled my passion and understanding towards it.

The first week, Shayla and I were able to join other agriculture leaders and 30 teachers for the Summer Agriculture Institute, a program that teaches kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers about agriculture in Arizona. The intent is to provide the educators with information and resources on how they can incorporate agriculture into their curriculum to educate today’s youth. While I do work with Ag in the Classroom, teaching kindergarten students is very different than teaching adults, and this week further developed my passion for educating Americans about the truth of agriculture and the beef community. Some of the stops included Andy Groseta’s ranch where teachers learned the importance of the relationship between cattle grazing and the health of the environment, a discussion with a forest ranger on the health of our forests, and a dinner with representatives from the Diablo Trust. It was a rewarding experience as we witnessed many of the teachers transform their opinions about agriculture and clear up misconceptions.

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Summer Ag Institute teachers getting personal encounters with Holstein steers at Heiden Land and Cattle.

In the following weeks, we worked in the office with amazing members of the beef community. We gained knowledge in communication, including how to utilize social media and online applications to create graphics, find the correct information, and interact with consumers both online and in person. We developed an understanding of the importance of selecting proper word choice and facts to tell the beef story in an honest yet non-offensive way. It was an eye-opening education. I have been involved in the production side of the beef community, including courses at the University of Arizona taught by esteemed professors, and while I continually interact with people not familiar with agricultural production (including my family), I had not realized the importance of reading one’s audience, selecting proper words, and being transparent and objective in telling the beef story. I also was unfamiliar with the full expanse of misinformation, biased articles, anti-agriculture organizations, and other information that is readily available and promoted to lead consumers astray. My passion for the beef community and telling its story continues to grow every day.

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Tiffany, Lauren (not pictured), and I dropped off beef jerky bouquets on National Jerky Day to promote beef, one of the numerous ways the AZ Beef Council works to link Americans with the beef story.

In addition to working in the office, Shayla and I were fortunate to attend different events as interns including the Women in Agriculture Conference and the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association (ACGA) Convention. At the Women in Agriculture Conference, we learned more about future challenges that the agriculture community will face, the importance of women’s roles both in the family and in production, and how to reconnect with consumers and producers not involved in organizations. One highlight was an inspiring presentation by a couple who were refugees from Africa and now own a farm in Arizona.

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The Golos told an inspiring story of faith, perseverance, and dedication to the cause of family and agriculture.

At the ACGA Convention, we were privileged to join many individuals involved in the Arizona beef community. As policies were re-evaluated, current issues were tackled, and connections were made, we saw firsthand how the beef community works to ensure its success along with everyone involved while working to continuously improve how cattle are raised and how we care for rangelands. It was beneficial to hear diverse opinions and explanations for why certain practices are done the way they are done. I also enjoyed seeing current issues that the beef industry is facing and how they handle them. I am very passionate about being involved in, and educating consumers about, the beef community, and this opportunity to work for and interact with numerous individuals in different aspects of the beef community was inspiring and extremely informative. There was a lot of fun, and a lot of education and this experience truly attested to the diversity and team work incorporated into the beef community. I was honored to help contribute to making convention successful.

This amazing internship also gave us the opportunity to meet influential and successful individuals and families in the beef community, which included working tours at beef facilities as well as the rewarding task of representing these families and their stories in Arizona Beef blogs. The first stop on our industry tour was the Kerr Family Dairy in Buckeye, hosted by Wes Kerr. Wes amazed us with his focus on animal welfare and a progressive mentality. He described how his grandfather never imagined the day when all dairies would have shades, and now technology has come so far to include Wes’ work with progressing genetics to have all polled (hornless) dairy cattle. Wes’ dairy was a beautiful example of superior animal care, attention to consumer demands and industry needs, and a progressive mentality. Thank you, Wes!

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Wes explained the importance of cattle rations (feed mixes) and how ingredients are selected to create the best results in cattle while utilizing by-products to reduce waste.

The next stop was a week-long vacation (err, long, grueling work week? In case Tiffany is reading this maybe I shouldn’t brag) down in Nogales with cattlemen Dan Bell and Dean Fish. We were blessed to join them in their daily ranch life, including the opportunity to gather cattle; brand, vaccinate, test, ear tag and castrate calves; ultrasound and palpate cows to check pregnancies; and perform other cattle management practices that ensure proper cattle records, health, and care. We also experienced monitoring and caring for the rangeland including proper fencing and cattle grazing rotation systems. We heard incite on the different ways of handling cattle to match individual ranches, including how to reduce stress for maximum productivity. We also attended the Southern Arizona Cattle Protective Association (SACPA) meeting and learned about current issues facing the beef community including the US-Mexico border, disease, and water regulations. It was an insightful opportunity to learn about different ranches and their management plans, and a refreshing break to be back out on a ranch. Mr. Bell and Dr. Fish were inspiring resources, sharing every detail of their work, showing us their challenges and successes, and giving us wisdom and advice for a joyful life. Thank you, Dan and Dean!

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Vaccinations are a crucial step in ensuring cattle health and a safe beef supply. Administration techniques are chosen based on ranch facilities and the best fit for individual practices and cattle health, and I was overjoyed to help.

Our next stop on touring the beef community was at Pinal Feeding Co in Maricopa. From the cow-calf ranch to the feedlot, this transition helped us learn about feeding cattle and the details involved. We learned more about cattle nutrition and how rations are made and delivered to provide the best care and results from cattle, including the importance of feeding at the right time of day. We learned about the complexity of technologies in managing and keeping records of cattle, as well as caring for sick cattle. Thank you, Bass and Caline! Afterward, we were privileged to tour the JBS Beef Processing Plant in Tolleson where we saw the care that workers take in supplying us with wholesome, safe, and healthy beef. I was impressed by the information our food safety tour guide explained to us. Every step of the process is carefully monitored with safety procedures, health and quality tests, and employees passionate about their jobs and the positive difference they make. Beef truly is a product we can feel safe, and good, about eating, knowing that it is raised with continuously improving sustainable practices, provided to us by families who care and is a delicious and nutritious source of food for ourselves and our families. Thank you, Maria!

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Holstein steers are fed personalized rations to maximize health and gains, with a carefully balanced mixture of forage (hay), grains, and supplements (including minerals and protein).

The beef community tours were not only enjoyable but also an educational look into the Arizona beef community and what the beef story truly is. From the promotion aspect in the office, to a dairy, to a cow-calf ranch, to the feedlot, to the packing plant, and with several stops to look at policies, regulations, issues, and development, I loved experiencing every piece of the beef story and hearing insight from a variety of farmers and ranchers with different backgrounds, scenarios, and ideologies. This experience increased my ability and desire to share the beef story and how cattle are raised by families, for families, in the most sustainable way, ensuring the health of cattle, the environment, and families.

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An important management practice on a cow-calf ranch is checking cattle pregnancies, and one method for this is palpation.

Overall, I cannot begin to express how rewarding my internship with the Arizona Beef Council was. I am incredibly blessed not only to have the amazing experience to learn from and interact with numerous individuals, families, and businesses in the beef community but also to be able to give back and assist in outreach and education to consumers. I gained endless skills and fueled my always growing passion for the beef community. And to top it all off, I was able to work with some of the nicest, most intelligent women in the beef community. One final thank you to everyone who encouraged me to apply for this amazing internship, to the committee who selected me, to my fellow intern and partner in crime Shayla, and to Tiffany and Lauren, my outstanding leaders, who I had seen present several times and never could have dreamed of the amazing opportunity to work with. And of course, thank you to the beef community. Eat beef, it’s what’s for dinner.

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Lauren, Shayla, myself, and Tiffany, the Arizona Beef Council summer team (family).

 

Meet Your Rancher: The Menges Family

The Menges Family and their ranches are in Graham and Greenlee Counties, where they run a cow-calf ranch. Please enjoy the interview below to learn more about this ranching family.

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The Menges Family.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch:
Jeff is a 4th generation lifetime rancher. He graduated from NMSU with degrees in range management and animal science. He grew up in Catron County, NM, on a forest service ranch. We have three sons; Ben, Mark, and Luke. We have two ranches operating as one unit along Gila River and Bonita Creek areas.

How does the technology you use now differ from the technology that was passed down to you or that generations passed may have used on this ranch?
The use of ATV’s instead of horses on the ranch has made us a great deal more efficient than in generations past because we can check waters, cattle, fences, etc. much more quickly. Also, solar technologies are advancing rapidly and now are available to draw water from wells as deep as 800 feet. We use solar technology on many of our wells on both ranches, which is clean energy and a reliable resource for us in Arizona.

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Moving cows on the ranch is made easier with ATVs.

What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way your raise your beef on your ranch?
Our ranch headquarters is relatively easy to access, and we welcome those who would like to learn more about ranching to visit the ranch. We engage with the local community a great deal by hosting ranch day experiences, meetings and workshops.  One misconception is that grazing riparian areas is detrimental to the resource; however, we have proven that that is not the case, in fact, it is highly beneficial.

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Menges Ranch headquarters.

What is the most important thing that you do on your ranch every day to make sure you are raising safe beef for the consumer?
Providing the cattle with adequate nutrition and clean water to drink all year long are the most important things we can do as ranchers to keep our cattle healthy

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A beautiful ranch view.

What is the most important piece of information that you would want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch every day?
We believe  if we take good care of the land, it will take care of us and our cattle. We believe in careful stewardship of the natural resources, which in turn allows us to provide a safe and wholesome product for the consumer.

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Jeff Menges horseback.

If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Diverse

Lastly and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?
Grilled rib-eye steak

Editor’s Note: Suzanne is an extremely progressive and active member of the Arizona State Cowbelles and the American National Cattlewomen (ANCW) as well as a founding member of her local chapter. The Cowbelle organization works to promote and educate about Arizona beef by interacting with consumers at various events such as the Ranch Day programs Suzanne has helped put on for many years. This program offers the opportunity for school-aged children to visit the ranch to experience and learn about all aspects of ranching in southeastern Arizona. Dr. Menges is currently developing a leadership training program for ANCW. She didn’t brag much about herself in these answers, so we wanted to do a little of it for her. 

Who’s blogging?

g2p cell_26_tiffany and laurenYou’re going to be meeting a lot of people coming up so we’d thought we’d start off with the staff of the Arizona Beef Council.

We, Lauren Scheller, Tiffany Selchow, and Bas Aja, execute the plans put into place each year by the Council’s board of cattlemen and women, cattle feeders and dairymen. Our goal is to let people know how great beef is and we do that by sharing the facts and bringing a little sparkle to the table (really there isn’t much you have to add to table if it’s already set with steaks).

Lauren is a beef-loving, car racing enthusiast, who enjoys making things pretty with calligraphy and bows. She was raised on her family’s beef cattle ranch in California and has adapted to and embraced all things Arizona ranging from hiking Camelback Mountain to enjoying delicious tacos across the state. On behalf of Arizona’s ranchers, Lauren works with chefs, retailers (aka where you can buy beef in the meat case), and the media to communicate about all things beef.

I, Tiffany, am a recently married, somewhat typical millennial, who can cook a mean steak but is working to increase her efficiency in the kitchen. Finding a new recipe on Pinterest
and trying it out on my husband, who is patient and eats whatever is put in front of him, is a newly found interest. My favorite project here at the Beef Council is exploring our state, one school and ranch at a time. Some of my time is spent in culinary and agriculture classrooms doing fun things like beef cooking demos, while a lot of time is spent online, sharing yummy info about beef.

We are all here as a resource to YOU! When you have a question about beef pop up, we want you ask us. See that link in the top right hand corner? It’s your direct connection to us. Give us a shout whenever a beefy question pops into your mind!

Arizona Beef Council: The What, Who, Where, When, and Why

AZ Beef Council_cactus_checkoff_color (2)Oh look, another blog for you to read on the interwebs! So the question begs to be asked, why take more of your time to cruise through our blog? Because this is where the story of Arizona beef and the ranchers and farmers who make it possible is told. It is a place to learn about a new cut of beef which may have looked intimidating at the meat case, but after reading our blog post will leave you feeling confident and ready to tackle something new. The list could go on and on!

So I’ll try to keep this from reading like your 2nd-grade current events report, but it only makes sense to give you the background of the Arizona Beef Council before we head off on our journey through Arizona and the great beef it has to offer.

The jury is out on when the Arizona Beef Council was officially founded (we have conflicting reports which point to 1955 and shortly after to 1956), but one thing is certain: the goal of this organization was and is to promote and educate about the incredible beef product Arizona ranchers work so hard to produce.

This sounds like an easy task, but once you start to break it down, LilDudetteone realizes there are many ways to accomplish this goal and vast amount of beef things to talk about. Some of the fun projects through the years have included TV and radio commercials which were aired during numerous notable shows including Bob Crosby, Edgar Bergen, Bing Crosby and Danny Thomas back in 1959. Another great project which is still functioning currently is providing money to culinary instructors to purchase and use beef in their classrooms. If you are currently an agriculture or culinary teacher and would like more info about this program and how you can get involved, check out our website. Lil’ Dudette (pictured) was another source of promotion. Her obvious appeal to the masses and tag line “To keep yourself trim, Eat beef, Keep slim” earned a large audience of receptive beef eaters. She hung out (in mannequin form) in stores and the state fair.

Check back soon. We will have an exclusive on the folks behind the scenes and then we’ll really get into the meat of this blog. Pun intended!