Bucher: Cultivating the next generation of leaders | Opinion

As we wait for spring to show its shining face and prepare to talk to political leaders in Washington, D.C., on April 11 and in Springfield on April 18, I’d be remiss if I didn’t shine some light on a program funded by your investment in the Illinois Beef Association and Illinois Beef Checkoff: the Illinois Junior Beef Association.

You hear stories, and many of us have experiences with livestock teaching youth responsibility and hard work, but one thing IBA prioritizes is developing the next generation of leaders. While IBA’s junior program is still relatively new, it’s full of passionate and talented individuals.

The juniors that serve on the nine-member IJBA board of directors are committed to making a positive difference to their board, membership and state’s cattle industry.

The board recently attended a national youth leadership event and, rumor has it, has new and exciting things planned for the association’s junior members this summer.

The Illinois Junior Beef Association board of directors attended the 2018 Youth Beef Industry Congress April 5-6 in Cleveland. The biennial event gathered more than 125 junior members of national beef breed associations and state cattlemen’s organizations. The 2018 YBIC was offered thanks to the following sponsors: Weaver Leather and Certified Angus Beef.

The YBIC conference is a great opportunity for the IJBA board of directors to create relationships with fellow beef leaders and industry professionals who will help inspire them to build a better future. Today’s juniors are the beef industry leaders of tomorrow, and we need to prepare them with the knowledge and experience they need to be successful.

While attending YBIC, IJBA directors met with representatives from Weaver Leather and Certified Angus Beef, toured the Weaver Leather manufacturing facility and visited Certified Angus Beef’s culinary center.

They also learned about the importance of leadership and character development from several speakers. Motivational speaker A’ric Jackson taught attendees the importance of living each day to its fullest and becoming a confident leader.

In addition, participants were given time to share ideas about how to improve their respective groups and better serve their memberships throughout the country through creative activities and events, fundraising initiatives and more. They also discussed current issues facing agriculture and how to be a positive leader in all aspects of their lives.

Angus junior members participating in the event were: Leslie Walker, Danvers; Keegan Cassady, Normal; Katie Miller, Cambridge; Sierra Day, Cerro Gordo; Kaitlyn Hildebrand, Ohio; Katrina Lowry, Oregon; and Ashley Miller, Armington.