A Relfection from the Texas Pork Junior Ambassadors

The Texas Pork Producers Association has dedicated numerous years to advocating, educating, and encouraging Texas youth. With efforts to continue our mission of advancing a sustainable and profitable pork industry, the association was inspired to create a youth program that would generate visible youth leaders for our industry and communities.

Thus far, the ambassadors gathered in Lubbock in July 2023 to begin the program with orientation, plus personal and professional development training. In September, we traveled to Amarillo to meet with industry partners to further their knowledge of agriculture as a whole.

This spring, the ambassadors will assist at the Texas Elite Showcase and BBQ Austin. In addition, they will host the Texas Pork Youth Conference in conjunction with the annual conference in May. As we reach the end of year one, hear from the current junior ambassadors about their experience so far!

Brooke Reininger – Marion, TX

As people involved in the livestock industry, we have many opportunities to develop leadership qualities and cultivate networking skills through interactions with industry leaders. Growing up, I noticed that many of my peers engaged in specific cattle breed associations. They shared their passion for these breeds and sometimes took on leadership roles that honed skills crucial for their future endeavors. This led me to question why a similar platform wasn’t available in the pork industry. Around that time, an Instagram post caught my attention: “INTRODUCING THE TEXAS PORK JUNIOR AMBASSADORS – Applications open March 1st.” That moment sparked my determination to give it my all and reach my fullest potential in pursuit of being selected.

Upon becoming a Junior Pork Ambassador, I was stoked. This opportunity seamlessly merged my enthusiasm for leadership and industry involvement with my love for pigs. I was thrilled to meet the other ambassadors, and when we all got together for the first time it was incredibly fulfilling; we just clicked. It’s pretty remarkable that despite our diverse backgrounds and scattered locations across Texas, we synergized effortlessly. This group holds a special place in my heart. I’ll forever cherish the Texas Pork Producers Association and the individuals who have worked behind the scenes to initiate this exceptional program. It has significantly broadened my understanding of the entire pork industry, encompassing both show and commercial operations. From the Ambassador training and orientation to the retreat we
had in September and all of the miles in between, I have loved every minute of this ambassadorship and can’t wait to see what’s
to come.

Landry Miller – Abernathy, TX

The Texas Pork Producers Junior Ambassador program has been an amazing experience for me so far. It has truly opened my eyes to so many avenues and opportunities in the swine and agricultural industry that I had never even heard of before. I had no idea how many different subjects I would be exposed to when I applied for this position. I have gained a wide array of knowledge varying from hardworking commercial sow operations to ultracreative marketing specialists. We have seen so many different viewpoints within the industry, and they all play a vital role in keeping the industry on its feet. The part of the program that I have enjoyed the most is the relationships that I have been able to build.

Our team of ambassadors has grown closer to each other than I ever could have imagined. We have built a bond that is centered around our mutual interest in the swine industry that I believe will last us a lifetime. We have also extended our social network and built relationships with the people that we never would have had the opportunity to, if not for this program. There are so many incredible people that I have had the pleasure of meeting in such a short amount of time, and I can’t wait to continue building those bonds!

Landri Ottmers – Fredericksburg, TX

The Texas Pork Producers Ambassador Program offers valuable opportunities for the younger generation by providing hands-on experience in the pork industry. Participants gain insights into pork production, animal husbandry, and agricultural practices, fostering a deep understanding of the industry’s nuances. Additionally, the program promotes leadership skills through training and networking, empowering participants to become advocates for sustainable and responsible pork farming. This exposure not only enhances knowledge but also opens doors for future career paths within the agricultural sector.

The program presents many enriching opportunities for the younger generation, serving as a gateway to a comprehensive understanding of the pork industry. Through hands-on experiences, we were allowed to participate and learn about the intricate parts of pork production, gain practical insights into commercial swine production, processing facilities, and the overall agricultural process. This teaches valuable skills and cultivates a profound appreciation for responsible and sustainable farming practices.

The Ambassadorship also helps us to work on our leadership development. Ambassadors practice communication, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities. At the end of the two-year term, we ambassadors hope to be well-equipped with the tools to effectively convey the importance of the pork industry to diverse audiences, positioning us as advocates for agricultural sustainability. The networking opportunities within the program make great connections with industry professionals, providing a unique platform for mentorship and career guidance.

The Texas Pork Producers Ambassador Program not only broadens the knowledge base but also nurtures a sense of responsibility toward the future of agriculture. The program not only opens doors to potential career paths within the industry but instills a passion for promoting the welfare of pork producers and the sustainability of agricultural practices within our world.

Braelyn Pointer – Sudan, TX

My experience in the TPPA Jr. Ambassador program has been nothing short of amazing and progressive for bettering youth in agriculture. From getting to meet with industry professionals to witness a large-scale pork production facility, we have learned so much in a short amount of time. Being a Junior Ambassador for the TPPA has allowed me to make connections with leaders in every facet of the pork industry. My favorite part, however, has been being able to work with a group of like-minded young adults who share the same passion. I have met some of my best friends through this program, and cannot wait to see how our group can continue to work together to make a change. As individuals who will one day be leaders in the pork industry, the younger generation must stay involved in current events in our industry. Within the program, we are doing just that. We have been able to meet with the Texas Animal Health Commission to learn about current health and disease issues in the pork industry, visit extension services, and hear insight about the TPPA from the board of directors. Also, during the annual Pork Producers conference, our team will be putting on a youth program during the event. I cannot wait to see the change this group makes and to work with the next group of ambassadors. 

Audrey Ratliff – Valley View, TX

My time, so far, as a Texas Pork Producers Junior Ambassador has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Getting to express and share my passion for the Texas pork industry with my fellow ambassadors has been nothing short of amazing. Most of us, before joining this program, had only been exposed to the show side of this industry and that was no different for me. Having the opportunity to go on our industry tour this past fall has been the highlight of this year. Visiting with different companies like JBS and Seaboard opened my eyes to what the commercial swine industry looks like, and the vast differences compared to what I grew up around in the show barn, as well as meeting leaders in the industry and getting to make those connections. I am most looking forward to traveling with our group this spring and having the opportunity to interact with the youth of the swine industry at shows and conference, not only being able to advocate for the industry but to share with the future generations of pork. This program has not only given me amazing opportunities but has also given me 6 of the best people I know in my life. We all share such a passion for the pork industry, and I can’t wait to continue to learn and grow with this amazing group of people. 

Kynnley Herrington – Eastland, TX

Being a Texas Pork Junior Ambassador has been a remarkable experience. Our first week together started a new network of connections, which evolved into a family. Our week consisted of leadership workshops, numerous meetings with experts in various fields, and personal growth with support from one another. Group bonding occurred which allowed us to understand each member in the ambassador program.

Having firm leadership set the pace for the next two years. Riley Reep and Colby Ferguson displayed confidence in everything they did, including confidence in us as newcomers. Being guided by them has allowed us to lead by example, which makes working with everyone so fulfilling. I have learned that we make each other better with time. Working with peers who share the same ambitions, passions, and goals made joining TPJA a welcoming environment where we all strive. The junior ambassador program has allowed each of us to take a step back from our day-to-day lives to see the bigger picture. Recognizing that everything we do is directed toward the youth created a stabilized foundation, thus bettering the program.

TPPA has prepared all of us for future endeavors. It has allowed us to develop public speaking skills, and professional capabilities and expanded our knowledge of the pork industry. This program holds individuals to a higher standard, and each time we meet the bar only rises. TPPA has helped shape us into the young adults we are today and will continue to do so for generations to come.

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