Meet the Participants in the 2015 Pork Mentorship Program

The 2015 Pork Mentorship Program Participants are all lovely, young women! Women have a strong and growing presence in U.S. agriculture. Their participation in the Pork Mentorship Program will provide valuable experiences and useful tools they need to succeed in agriculture today. All of the participants attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with interests and majors ranging from Agricultural Education to Animal Science, and Agribusiness to Veterinary Sciences.

This year will be very educational for each of you, with many lessons to learn. Each of you will each experience different levels of personal and professional growth through your experiences. Thank you for your interest in the swine industry – we will have a fast paced and exciting year ahead of us!

Callie Rathjen is originally from York, NE. She is the daughter of Scott and Shellie Rathjen.CALLIE RATHJEN

Callie is involved in the Sigma Alpha Sorority, the Pre-Vet Club, and Archery Club. She will begin her sophomore year this fall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying Veterinary Science. After completing vet school, she plans to work as veterinarian specializing in large animals and production livestock.

Callie describes herself a small town girl whose interest in pigs and agriculture stared in high school, thanks to her two Agriculture Education teachers, Cal Williams and Jason Hirschfeld. She explains her favorite swine related memory was showing at the 2014 Nebraska State Fair, where she showed Overall Grand Champion FFA Market Gilt, and was the Champion Senior Futurity Showman.

Callie explains her favorite quote, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game,” reflects on her personality as being achievement-driven and willing to learn and grow while gaining meaningful experiences.



Emily Wegener is originally from Fairmont, MN. She is the daughter of Tim and Kerry Wegener.EMILY WEGENER

Emily is involved in the Agri Business Club and Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority. She will begin her senior year this fall at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, studying Agribusiness with a livestock production option. Emily plans to earn her Master’s Degree and will return home to raise pigs and farm with her dad.

Emily explains her passion for pigs grew because of the passion for pigs held by others from many generations back. She says, “It was my time to choose a field of work that I love and will enjoy. Agriculture is just the field for me!” Her favorite thing to do is to spend time with the animals on her family’s farm. She credits working on the farm as a factor that helped her decide the agriculture field was the right fit, and it also helped that she already had a great deal of personal experience in agriculture.

Advice that Emily holds close to heart comes from her dad. When her dad is asked why he farms, he responds, “I farm because I want to feed America.”  Emily adds, “I love helping others and that really sparked something for me.”



Jennifer Posthuma is originally from Fox Lake, WI. She is the daughter of Brian and Marcia Posthuma.JENNIFER POSTHUMA

Jennifer is involved in Block and Bridle, Sigma Alpha, Heartland Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Honors Program Peer Mentor, and CASNR Week Planning Committee. She will begin her junior year this fall at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, studying Animal Science with a Meat Science option and is an Honors Student.

Jennifer explains her best swine related memory was showing pigs at her local fair in Wisconsin, followed by a carcass show at the local meat market. Her 4-H leader always needed volunteers to help the carcass judge with recording results and she helped every year. She says though these experiences she learned about quality and yield grading, specifically hog carcasses since they were the dominate species at her fair. “These experiences sparked my interest in the meat industry.”

Jennifer is keeping her options open after she completes her undergraduate degree. She says, “I’m really contemplating on going to graduate school to learn more about meat science. If I decide against more schooling, then I want to work at a pork processing facility either in Operations Management or Quality Assurance, or to do Research and Development for a pork products company.”

Jennifer describes herself as a driven and motivated perfectionist, who is adventurous and really wants to make the most out of her life experiences, and loves to burn the midnight oil.



Maranda Kegley is originally from Kearney, NE. She is the daughter of Randy and Marci Kegley.MARANDA KEGLEY

Maranda is active as a member of the Buffalo County 4-H, Amherst FFA, Collegiate Farm Bureau, as well as showing livestock and livestock judging. She will begin her sophomore year this fall at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, studying Agricultural Education. Following graduation, Maranda will work as an Agricultural Education instructor at a high school.

Maranda was born and raised on a family farm that grows crops and cares for livestock. She and her sister own a registered Hereford cattle herd and have a beekeeping business. It is obvious that Maranda has a passion for agriculture. She says, “I feel that it is important to advocate for agriculture to the public.”

Maranda shares her favorite swine related memory was receiving Reserve Grand Champion Market Hog at the 2014 Buffalo County Fair with her guilt, Marshmallow. When Maranda isn’t advocating for agriculture, she enjoys reading, playing the piano and spending time with friends.



Sarah Morton is originally from Nehawka, NE. She is the daughter of David and Tracy Morton.SARAH MORTON

Sarah is a member of the UNL Collegiate Farm Bureau, UNL Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, the FOCUS Bible Study and is a volunteer for the F Street Community Center. She will begin her sophomore year this fall at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, studying Agricultural Education with a teaching option and an endorsement in Biology.

Sarah grew up on a small family farm outside of Nehawka. At age 12, she began showing pigs, but her love for agriculture blossomed throughout her years in high school as an active member in 4-H and FFA. Sarah says it’s her passion to help other kids grow their love for agriculture. Her passion to help other kids drives her plan to work as an Agricultural Education instructor at a rural high school in Nebraska after she graduates in 2018.

Sarah shares her favorite swine related memory was showing her pigs at the fair with all of her friends.



Shannon Dierking is originally from Tecumseh, NE. She is the daughter of John and Phylls Dierking.SHANNON DIERKING

Shannon is a member of the UNL Pre-Vet Club and an active volunteer for the St. Paul United Church of Christ. She will begin her senior year this fall at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, studying Animal Science. Next fall, she will apply to the UNL-ISU veterinary medicine program.

Shannon grew up on a hog farm that also included horses, dogs, and cats. Shannon says her love for animals shaped her decision to pursue veterinary medicine. In her career as a veterinarian, she looks forward to working with pork producers from across Nebraska and helping to inform the public on the many different aspects of the pork industry.

In addition to being a full-time student, she also works at The Fort and Jacobsen Veterinary Clinic in Lincoln. Shannon describes herself as a self-motivated and dependable team member.