Jonwyn Ayres named Outstanding Leadership Award recipient
Oregon junior awarded the Jim Baldridge Outstanding Leadership Award at the 2023 National Junior Angus Show.
Developing leaders is fundamental to the National Junior Angus Association (NJAA), and this year's Jim Baldridge Outstanding Leadership Award recipient exemplifies what it means to be a leader, both inside and outside of the NJAA. During the National Junior Angus Show (NJAS), Jonwyn Ayres was announced as the 2023 award recipient on July 7 in Grand Island, Nebraska.
“Receiving this award is an absolute honor,” Ayres said. “I have worked hard to have an influence on juniors and make an impact within Angus.”
The award recognizes an NJAA member who embodies high character and serves as a leader within the junior association. Ayres of Powers, Oregon was presented with a trophy and awarded a $5,000 scholarship.
“Jonwyn is very deserving of this award,” said Lindsey Morgan-Ricksger, Oregon Junior Angus Association advisor. “For the past year, she has been president of the Oregon Junior Angus Association, and she is very good at making sure not only she is present and involved, but also everyone else.”
First instituted in the 1990s, The Outstanding Leadership Award was created to acknowledge an honorable youth leader within the NJAA. In 2013, Bill and Betty Werner of Werner Angus, Cordova, Illinois, donated $50,000 to establish an endowment fund and provide a scholarship for the Outstanding Leadership Award recipient in honor of their close friend, Jim Baldridge – a lifetime member and supporter of the American Angus Association.
Jim Baldridge’s grandson, Jake Tiedeman said, “Grandpa was a charismatic leader with an infectious personality and was enthusiastic about the Angus breed. Jonwyn Ayres’ diverse leadership carries on the spirit of both my grandfather and Bill Werner, and I am so proud of her and all the past winners.”
The award continues to recognize youth leaders in the NJAA. Whether it is being a positive influence, helping fellow junior Angus members or holding leadership roles, Ayres encompasses what it truly means to be a good leader.
“I have always strived to be the best version of myself,” Ayres said. “When we stay within our comfort zones, we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to improve and grow.”
Through the NJAA, Ayres said she loves competing at the NJAS, especially in the speaking contests. Ricksger said she is a strong competitor and she enjoys using her expertise to be a mentor and provide support to younger members.
“She encourages youth to get involved in contests outside of showing at the NJAS,” Ricksger said. “Jonwyn loves helping younger kids prepare and getting them excited about competing.”
In addition to her mentorship and service as president of the Oregon Junior Angus Association, Ayres was a Miss American Angus finalist, served as the Western States Angus Queen and was the Oregon Angus Queen. In July, Ayres was also elected to serve on the NJAA board of directors through which her leadership within the Angus breed will continue.
“I am excited to continue being a mentor to Angus juniors while taking on this new leadership role as a junior board member,” Ayres said. “This is the space where I feel my purpose.”
Outside of the NJAA, Ayres sits on two other boards: the Black Hawk College board as a student trustee and the Oregon FFA Joint Board. Additionally, she currently studies agricultural economics at Black Hawk College in Galva, Illinois and is on the college’s livestock judging team.
Looking into the future, Ayres said she hopes to attend law school to practice agriculture and natural resource law.
“I would love to have an influence in not only policy making, but also environmental cases in agriculture, specifically animal agriculture,” Ayres said. “Aside from being in the field of agricultural law, having an Angus cattle herd at home is a dream.”
In addition to her future career goals, Ayres said she sees herself continuing to be a leader and mentor for youth within the NJAA and other youth-serving organizations that teach about agriculture.
“I want to continue to support the youth organizations that have shaped my life and that I believe are shaping a better world,” Ayres said.
To learn more about the Jim Baldridge Outstanding Leadership Award or other NJAA programs, visit www.angus.org/NJAA. Additional coverage of the NJAS is also available on the NJAA social media channels, online at www.njas.info, and in the September issue of the Angus Journal.