Sisters team up to speak for beef
By Heather Thorstensen
PLAINVIEW — Lisa Wingert will jokingly tell people that her daughter Kristen has "a little background" when it comes to the beef industry.
The Wingert family, with 150 head of cattle, runs Beaver Ridge Beef near Plainview. Outside sits the trailer that Kristen, 17, won a year’s use of after her dairy steer took home Grand Champion honors at the 2008 Minnesota 4-H Beef Show. In the Minnesota 4-H Purple Ribbon Livestock Auction, her steer went for $8,000.
Kristen has her own black Angus herd. She is the FFA Region 8 treasurer and the FFA Plainview-Elgin-Millville Chapter’s president.
Now she has a new role as a member of the first Minnesota Beef Spokesperson Team. This team replaces the state’s beef queen/princess and beef ambassador programs. It’s funded by the Minnesota CattleWomen and the Minnesota Beef Checkoff.
Team members will promote the industry to consumers and students by talking about beef nutrition, food safety, the industry’s stewardship practices and other positive impacts.
It’s also an opportunity for young people to increase their self-confidence while they improve their communication and leadership skills.
Contestants were selected in October at the Minnesota Beef Expo after being evaluated in a mock media interview, a classroom presentation and a written response to a letter that offered a negative view of the beef industry.
Kristen was overall winner and will receive a $500 scholarship from the Minnesota CattleWomen. She will also have the chance to compete next year for a spot on the National Beef Ambassador Team.
Her 14-year-old sister, Maria, was selected as the team’s junior member and will receive a $100 scholarship. Maria has her own Shorthorn herd and says she can’t imagine living in town. Like her sister, she has experience with public speaking through school speech groups.
The Wingert sisters plan to use their scholarship money for college. Kristen wants to earn a degree in agriculture education. Maria also sees agriculture in her future, as an owner of a hobby farm or a full-time operation.
The team received briefcases courtesy of BEEF Magazine and the children’s book "Little Star, Raising our First Calf," by Becky Chaney, to read during elementary school visits. Kristen plans to read it to students in 20 elementary school classes when they visit her high school in March for National Ag Day.
So far, the team visited the Minnesota Beef Council office, met with executive director Ron Eustice and learned about the council and the checkoff. They will attend the Minnesota Cattlemen/CattleWomen Convention in December in Brainerd. Future events may include the state fair, Farmfest and cattlemen meetings.
Combining youth programs is a way to use checkoff dollars more effectively, as team members are spread throughout the state and can cover many local events, said the team’s chairwoman, Myrna Scharpe of the Minnesota CattleWomen.