Beyond Banners: NJSA National Youth Leadership Conference

Forty-two  members of the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA), ages 14-21, flocked from 12 states to gather in Modesto, Calif., for the 2012 NJSA National Youth Leadership Conference, “Bacon’ in the Sun,” held May 18-20. Throughout the weekend, youth listened to panels and presentations from industry leaders, toured top-notch facilities and had a blast meeting fellow NJSA members and young swine enthusiasts.  
Beau Williamson and Coty Back of Greater Potential Leadership presented three separate leadership workshops throughout the weekend, helping participants define leadership and set SMART goals to become leaders in the swine industry. 
Bryn Jensson with the National Pork Board gave a presentation on Sending the Message of We Care, educating youth on how to embrace the changes happening in our industry and serve as examples for consumers. 
Youth participants took part in a Careers in Agriculture panel with Brett Kaysen, Colorado State University; Bryn Jensson, National Pork Board and Mike Paul, National Swine Registry. The trio offered helpful hints on choosing a career, searching for a job and preparing for college.

The NJSA Junior Board of Directors presented three leadership-themed breakout sessions including:
·         Effective Listening with Kayla Meyer, Tonya Fender and Amy Newnum
·         Leadership Fundamentals with Mackenzie Langemeier and David Ammann
·         Public Speaking with Kaylee Miller, Greg Krahn and Corey Carpenter 

Other professional development sessions included:
·         Excellence in Etiquette taught by NJSA Junior Board members, Kayla Meyer and Greg Krahn
·          Interviews that Impress presented by Ben Granholm, past state officer for the California FFA Association
·         Finding Internship and Job Opportunities with Brett Kaysen, Colorado State University

Rachelle Bailey, Golden State Genetics; Wes Barone, Bar-OneFarms, and James Backman, Small Town Genetics, participated in a Young Swine Breeders panel where they talked about the challenges they’ve faced in the industry and their motivation to raise pigs. They gave advice to youth wanting to raise pigs for a living. 
Another round of breakout sessions included:
·         A Packer’s Perspective with Mike Curry, Yosemite Meat Company
·         MVP (Mentoring Values People) Program Mentor Training with NJSA Junior Board members Corey Carpenter and Tonya Fender
·         Running for the NJSA Junior Board Panel with including past or current NJSA Junior Board members Kayla Wood, Mackenzie Langemeier, Kaylee Miller and Greg Krahn

Participants toured The Long Ranch, an all-in-all-out system specializing in providing custom pork to meet the needs of various cultures and ethnicities.  The ranch markets approximately 8,000 hogs annually to accommodate a wide range of consumers that can purchase ready-to-cook products from the on-farm retail store or order a whole pig and have it processed on-site for barbecues or roasting.  The Long Ranch is currently owned by Scott Long and has been a family run business for more than three decades.  Pigs are raised in hoop barns and fed antibiotic-free food, enabling them to offer naturally-raised specialty meats, marinated loins, ham, bacon and spare ribs all produced antibiotic-free and processed on site with the on-farm processing plant. 
James Backman showed the NJSA members around Small Town Genetics, a nationally recognized swine herd with a select group of sires and high-quality show prospects that they market nationwide.  James also explained to the youth how they’ve adapted to the new policies on sow housing, gestation stalls and other production practices passed in California seven years ago.

Participants also toured the Modesto Junior College Swine Unit, consisting of 60 sows and five boars, where they gained an understanding of raising hogs under an academia setting.

The family owned Duarte Nursery also opened their doors for NYLC participants. The largest permanent crops nursery in the United States, the company has a history of aggressively marketing innovative products, with current sales over $30 million and expanding.  Part of Duarte Nursery’s commitment to innovation and quality is the Dry Creek Lab, their on-site laboratory where they produce fruit and nut trees through micropropagation and tissue culture.  NYLC participants learned about fruit tree and vine grafting and were able to observe the micropropagation up close during the tour. 
Evening activities included a night of go-karts, mini-golf, laser tag, rock climbing, bumper boats and arcade games at Boomers Family Fun Center and a barbecue and kickball tournament at the Modesto Junior College Agriculture Pavilion.


  1. Very useful information, thanks for your generosity. More power to you!

  2. Thank you for sharing. Family business leadership is often a family’s biggest challenge. The leader must posses the required training, experience and aptitude for their roles as well as the skills to manage the inevitable conflicts that arise.