Angus breeders from across the Unites States and Canada gained knowledge and enhanced their leadership skills during the sixth-annual Beef Leaders Institute (BLI), hosted June 17-20 by the American Angus Association®.

 While on the four-day institute, 20 young cattle producers toured packing plants, feedlots and other industry segments. The learning opportunity is designed to give applicants, ages 25-45, a chance to meet with Association staff and industry representatives while networking with their peers in the Angus industry.

“BLI is a great opportunity for Angus producers who are wanting to enhance their leadership skills, learn more about the beef industry, and meet new people,” says Bryce Schumann, Association chief executive officer. “We enjoyed hosting them on this premier educational experience.”

The BLI tour began at the Association headquarters in Saint Joseph, Mo. Following presentations from Angus Genetics Inc., Angus Productions Inc., Certified Angus Beef LLC and the Angus Foundation, the group traveled to Iowa and Nebraska for several in-depth tours. Their stops included a Tyson beef processing plant, Whole Foods grocery store, food distributor Sysco, the GeneSeek genetics lab and a Cargill Meat Solutions deli meat processing plant.

Rhonda Wulf of Morris, Minn., says programs such as BLI are great ways to build connections in the beef industry.

“BLI helps people see the industry from a broader level, get out of their comfort zone, meet new people, and bring back new energy when they return to work,” Wulf says. “This opportunity really helped me recalibrate my focus on the beef industry and look at it from a more holistic manner.”

Participant Andrew Stewart, Greensburg, Ind., says this experience was exciting to him because of the new relationships he built with classmates.

“One thing I wanted to do is just learn more about the whole process and what the industry is trying to focus on or what the consumer wants,” Stewart says. “That’s what we’re all really here for is to try and make a product that is desirable for the consumer and one that’s hopefully profitable for all of our ranchers, packers and feedlots as well.”

Participants in this year’s BLI class were: Mathew Bolduc, Claresholm, Alta., Canada; Sarah Fuller, Twin Falls, Idaho; Josh Malson, Parma, Idaho; Andy Howell, Milltown, Ind.; Andrew Stewart, Greensburg, Ind.; Damon New, Leavenworth, Kan.; Rhonda Wulf, Morris, Minn.; Greg Meier, Jackson, Mo.; Chris Fryzek, Madrid, Neb.; Clayton Glause, Fremont, Neb.; Judd Hoos, Rushville, Neb.; Nick Jindra, Clarkson, Neb.; Danny Poss, Scotia, Neb.; Aaron Strommen, Fort Rice, N.D.; Dan Wells, Chillicothe, Ohio; Cody Bright, Gaffney, S.C.; Casey Maher, Morristown, S.D.; Chad Rotenberger, Ludlow, S.D.; Justin Diefenbach, Mineral Point, Wis.; and Cody Quam, Lodi, Wis.