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  • by Maddy Rohr, Certified Angus Beef intern

Looking Ahead: Supporting Tomorrow’s Leaders

Three ways Certified Angus Beef promotes leadership and growth for the next generation within the beef industry.

Kylee Sellnow, senior content manager

Raising the best beef is only possible with the best people. Relationships are the foundation of the brand, which is why Certified Angus Beef (CAB) prioritizes the people who will one day supply it and lead the industry.

“Certified Angus Beef is investing in programs to support future Angus producers and beef industry leaders to continue marketing the best beef for generations to come,” says Nicole Erceg, director of communications for the brand.

Through internships, events and scholarships, the next generation of beef leaders can look for support from CAB to develop their skills, build a strong foundation of knowledge and gain financial assistance to pursue their goals.

Internships that matter

CAB internships give students the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to real-world projects and initiatives.

Starting her CAB career as a 2019 producer communications intern, Kylee Sellnow has progressed to her current role of senior content manager. Sellnow’s first summer in Wooster guided her on application of an agricultural communications degree to a full-time job and fed her passion for the beef industry.

“I was blown away by the work happening in Wooster and why they do what they do,” she says. “Twelve weeks of capturing farm and ranch families’ stories and engaging with chefs really opened my eyes beyond ‘telling your story’ and I actually started to understand what that meant, what that could look like.”

Sellnow describes her role now as a beef storyteller, with content creation ranging from videography to written stories. She supports projects direct-to-consumer as well as business-to-business communications.

Sellnow now manages communications interns. She said she strives to create a positive, valuable experience that sets interns up for success in their future careers.

“Interns are only in-office for a short while, but we hope that they feel like this is a second home for them for nine to 12 weeks, and they can walk away with experiences and work they’re proud of,” Sellnow says. “The internship is customizable to their interests, and that makes each one unique.”

Lindsay Runft, director of producer communications

Lindsay Runft was an events and education intern in 2009 and returned in 2022 as the director of producer communications. In her current role, she leads communication strategy and efforts for the production audience.

“CAB has a phenomenal reputation for being progressive and a leader in the beef industry,” Runft says. “I had such a great experience in my summer internship, and with robust responsibilities really felt like I was part of something bigger than myself.”

Runft says CAB interns can expect to be a contributing member of the team with projects that will not only fit their interests and skill set, but also push them to grow personally and professionally.

With multiple communications internships — brand communications, public relations, social media, producer communications and studio production — selected students get a customizable experience to help guide their future career.

Interested students can find the application at in early October.

Events for a full beef experience

Youth Beef Leaders Seminar (YBLS) is an exclusive event for young leaders in the beef industry. Attendees get three days of hands-on learning at CAB’s Culinary Center in Wooster, Ohio. The event offers networking with peers and CAB staff, professional growth, and an inside look at the brand.

“Each year when we welcome students, we tell them to look around the room, because there are people there who they will work with one day,” says Kara Lee, CAB director of producer engagement.

CAB interns and top Colvin Scholarship recipients are invited, as well as the new National Junior Angus Association Board of Directors, Miss American Angus, Collegiate Beef Advocates, and Canadian Junior Angus Association (CJAA). Additionally, students may apply to attend YBLS.

“The best part of being here with my fellow peers is learning from them,” says Paxton Sullivan, 2022 attendee. “We all have different interests, backgrounds and experiences that really shape the way we do things, and forming connections is one way we put ourselves on a path to success.”

Trevor Johnson, 2022 attendee, says he knew what CAB stood for and what the brand does for the industry, but didn’t realize how many levels of involvement it takes to execute a brand this big.

“There’s a lot of good education that goes on in the classroom, but I think it’s critical to step out of the classroom to tie that together with industry involvement,” Johnson says. “My experience at YBLS has incorporated time in the meat lab, learning more about consumer and producer involvement with the brand and how to build a bridge between the two, and learning about how what we do in production affects the consumer.”

Carmen White, a past CJAA attendee, says she also enjoyed the hands-on portion in the meat lab.

“As an agricultural economics major, we don’t get to cut meat very often,” she says. “It was also eye-opening to taste the difference between USDA grades, including CAB traditional and CAB Prime.”

YBLS applications open in October 2023 for interested college students pursing a degree in animal science, meat science, food science, agricultural communications, business, economics or other agriculture related fields.

More than just scholarships

The Colvin Scholarship Fund supports students pursuing careers in production, meat science, agricultural business and marketing by continuing their involvement in the cattle industry. Students selected are passionate about their education, agriculture and community involvement.

“Overall, each category is looking for a leader looking to make an impact on the beef industry,” says Danielle Matter, CAB director of brand experience and education.

Forest Francis, 2022 Graduate Colvin Scholarship top recipient, says that earning the scholarship has provided more than just financial support.

“Not only did the Colvin Scholarship help me financially to help pay for school, but also to be able to travel to the CAB Annual Conference and YBLS,” Francis says. “The networking opportunities that I’ve had have been countless, and I think that more than anything, it has been a phenomenal experience.”

Scholarships are available in three categories: production agriculture, undergraduate and graduate. In 2022 more than $70,000 was awarded to 20 college students, with the top scholarship award in each category reaching $7,500.

Francis recommends starting early on applications, which open in March. He encourages applicants to openly explain their future career goals, interests or research.

Tomorrow’s leaders

Investing today in the next generation helps inspire and educate youth who are the future ranchers, chefs and beef industry professionals.

CAB fosters a community of relationships and support by connecting tomorrow’s pioneers with today’s leaders to help secure a positive future for beef.


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