Pork Leadership  

The Pork Leadership Program was created to build awareness, interest, and involvement in the pork industry. Program participants further develop their skills as leaders and naturally emerge as the next wave of active and engaged members of committees and board members at the local, state and national levels.  

The 2019 Pork Leadership Program was comprised of five talented professionals: 

Aaron Holliday of Columbus, with Pillen Family Farms, provides oversight to five nursery barns and six finishing barns, totaling 78,000 pigs.  

Allison Zabel of Papillion, with PIC, works as a customer service specialist to enter orders, organize transportation and provide support for customers. 

Joel Kaelin of Fairbury, with DNA Genetics, is the lead officer for the Fairbury Nucleus, managing growth of pigs from farrow to finish.  

Zachary Lubeck of Omaha, with Quality Pork International, works to negotiate raw materials prices and manage relationships with suppliers. 

Participants in the Pork Leadership Program took part in six meetings and activities over the course of the year where they: 

  • Participated in hands on learning focused on theoretical leadership and group dynamics principles with Team Concepts 
  • Learned about the opportunities and weaknesses of various social media platforms to help the pork industry with Jennifer Osterholt, creator of PlowingThroughLife.com 
  • Participated in a regular Board Meeting of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association 
  • Attended the Nebraska FFA Foundation’s “Mission True Blue” program 
  • Toured Neogen/Geneseek 
  • Learned about marketing campaigns and strategies from National Pork Board to increase pork consumption 
  • Learned about research in the areas of nutrient, soil, and water quality management by Dr. Amy Schmidt and work being done on individual animal identification in the pork industry by Dr. Ty Schmidt 
  • Heard tips on how to speak with the media in training provided by the Nebraska Rural Radio Association 
  • Meet with staff and leaders from the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to better understand their roles and responsibilities of each organization 
  • Discussed the challenges around labor force and sustainability with Trent Loos 
  • Visited staff members at National Pork Board to better understand domestic marketing and foreign trade, received an update about African Swine Fever, and learned how to lead Hispanic employees 
  • Advocated on issues affecting the pork industry during the Fall Legislative Action Conference in Washington DC and participated in Legislative Education Action Development Resource training provided by staff members at National Pork Producers Council 
  • Meet with leaders from Pillen Family Farms and DNA Genetics to discuss the future of the pork industry 
  • Toured a nursery and finishing barn to see first-hand the attention to detail required to provide high quality care for pigs 
  • Witnessed new, innovative technology during a tour of Tyson Fresh Meats 
  • Shared career experiences with students in the Animal Biology class at the Career Academy 

Pork Mentorship 

The Pork Mentorship Program is a career development program that provides a variety of hands-on experiences to promote leadership and communication skills, ultimately fostering career development. The year-long program focuses on career development, industry promotion, civic engagement, extended enrichment and education activities, and participation in group meetings. Each of the participants receive a $500 scholarship upon the successful completion of requirements throughout the year-long program.  

The 2019 Pork Mentorship Program was comprised of five members with academic majors that represent a cross section of interests and disciplines within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources: 

Darren Segner of Friend, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science with an option in food animal production and management.  

Heather Hunt of Fullerton, Calif., is a sophomore at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science with an option in meat science.  

Mekenzie Beattie of Sumner, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Agribusiness.  

Miranda Mueller of Yutan, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science, Grazing Livestock Systems.  

Ronald Kramer of West Point, is a senior at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science, Grazing Livestock Systems.  

Participants in the Pork Mentorship Program took part in various meetings and activities over the course othe year where they: 

  • Learned about personality types and explored career interest areas with TeamBuild 
  • Practiced how to prepare for and engage with industry professionals 
  • Learned about reproductive biology and physiology from researchers and experts at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln 
  • Prepared different pork dishes with Amber Pankonin of Stirlist to see how college students can easily prepare healthy meals 
  • Toured a sow farm, nursery and feed mill with staff from Thomas Livestock Company 
  • Toured WholeStone Farms to complete the pork production process 
  • Learned about pharmaceutical manufacturing during a tour of Zoetis 

Pork Internship 

The development of the next wave of young professionals in Nebraska through the Internship program offered by the Nebraska Pork Producers Association is something that we all can be very proud of. 

The investment now in this program will pay dividends for the pork industry in the future. The reality that there is a shortage of talent present today is on the minds of many individuals and organizations as they try to successfully plan for transition in the near future. The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is taking the right steps to prepare for this by facilitating meaningful hands-on learning opportunities. 

Magdalene O’Brien is a junior studying Animal Science at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She began her internship in October of 2017.  

Jacob Bonwell is a junior studying Agricultural Economics with a minor in Animal Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He began his internship in October 2018. 

Magdalene and Jacob work together to use social media to foster engagement of pork producers on the Bacon Farmers Facebook Group. Increasing engagement online is important for producers to connect with one another as well as be a part of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association. Be sure to check out our pages by searching Nebraska Pork Producers Association — give us a like and follow! 

McCyla Mickelson is a sophomore studying Agribusiness at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She began her internship in August of 2018. McCyla worked to foster interest and increase youth involvement in the pork industry through a lottery pig program in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. This experience helped 15 urban youth gain hands on experience working with a pig and having the responsibility of caring for their own pig. There were four educational meetings throughout the summer to teach youth about nutrition and diseases in pigs, the importance of biosecurity, how to cook with pork, and the many different careers in the pork industry. The Douglas/Sarpy Counties Lottery Pig Program concluded with exhibitors showing their pigs at the Sarpy County Fair in August.