• Karen Hiltbrand, American Angus Association

Raising the Bar 2021 — Angus in Auburn

Angus juniors from 21 states gather in Montgomery, Ala., for the annual Raising the Bar Conference.

Junior Angus members experienced “sweet home Alabama,” Auburn University, Alabama Angus and

Southern hospitality at the 2021 National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) Raising the Bar Conference April 8-11. Sponsored by the Angus Foundation, the conference hosted 46 junior members from 21 states in Montgomery, Ala. Participants toured Auburn University campus, heard from industry experts, took part in leadership training and networked with other participants.

Since the 2020 Raising the Bar Conference at Colorado State University was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, juniors were excited to be together again to tour a potential college prospect where they may later further their academic careers.

“Deciding where to attend college can be a stressful decision, so we want to make sure juniors are exposed to options, so when the time comes, they can make an informed decision about where they may choose to attend,” says Madeline Bauer, events coordinator at the American Angus Association. “In addition to teaching kids about college opportunities, we want them to expand their networks. A goal of ours is to make sure everyone knows everyone by the end of their career in the NJAA.”

The conference kicked off with Erin Beasley, the executive vice president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, setting the tone for the weekend ahead. She emphasized how far having a strong work ethic, attitude and network can take a person.

“Everyone is going to make mistakes, but it’s how you learn from those mistakes that is most

important,” Beasley says.

Friday was spent in the shoes of an Auburn student up on Ag Hill. There students received a tour of the agriculture department buildings from student ambassadors and Donald Mulvaney, Auburn College of Agriculture associate professor.

“[Raising the Bar] provides those experiences and begins to plant those seeds of leadership, and those are the difference-makers in peoples’ lives,” Mulvaney says. “The world is crying out for people that can talk, communicate and be those who are willing to step up.”

NJAA member Avery Mather attended her fifth Raising the Bar this year and had the opportunity to previously attend the conference at South Dakota State University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University and Oklahoma State University.

Mather says, “To have been able to develop friendships over thousands and thousands of miles has been incredible.”

Juniors also visited the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and toured the Mooseum with director of education and outreach, Ali Cantrell. The tour continued at Adams Angus in Union Springs, Ala., and later at Creekstand Catfish Farm.

In addition to tours, students had some fun at Escapology and participated in professional development workshops led by the National Junior Angus Board (NJAB).

“We are so grateful for the supporters of these conferences,” Bauer says. “From the Angus Foundation to the Alabama Angus Association, Raising the Bar wouldn’t be possible without their support.”

Editor’s note: To learn more about how to participate in an upcoming Raising the Bar conference, visit njaa.info.

Adapted from a release by Karen Hiltbrand, American Angus Association.