I completed the Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program in 2010 as part of my journey to promote everything about the meat industry. Completing the MBA program catapulted me to a whole new level of advocacy, including feature articles in the Wall Street Journal, an appearance on FOX News Live and lots of other media stories.

The next step in my journey was to compete for one of five spots in the inaugural MBA ‘‘Top of the Class” training program. Created as an educational celebration of our successful completion of the Masters of Beef Advocacy program, sponsored by the Beef Checkoff, this two-day workshop held on National Agriculture Day in Denver, Colo., was an unforgettable event that helped to strengthen and continuously inspire the forward thinkers of our industry.

Cattle ranchers, veterinarians, chefs, wholesalers — the industry is full of incredible individuals from all around the country, all with different talents and assets that came together to celebrate beef. 

This program brought together five of these innovators:

  • Jake Geis, DVM, is a rancher and veterinarian from South Dakota who works mainly with beef cattle. His passion lies in sharing how America’s farmers and ranchers raise healthy, tasty beef that feeds the world, and he has a huge impact on ensuring this goal.
  • Chef Mike Erickson is a culinary expert who taught at Texas Culinary Academy and Le Cordon Blue College and is now an instructor based in Texas. In addition, he recently completed his inspirational documentary film titled “TRUE BEEF” which follows the lives of high school students learning about all aspects of beef production.
  • Sierra Blachford — otherwise known as the modern day Laura Ingalls Wilder — is a blogger and freelance writer who focuses on teaching consumers about the origins of their food. Sierra and her husband also raise Angus cattle and sell feeder calves at their South Dakota home.
  • Amanda Barrett runs a cow and calf operation based in central California that has been family-run for decades. She is also the President of Kern Country Cattlewomen and was a National Beef Ambassador in 2007.
  • And myself — I am the fifth generation in the wholesale-meat business that specializes in prime and aged beef based in New York City and New Jersey. I am the founder of The Sirloin Report and started a natural brand called Suzy Sirloin Inc.

The five of us all love beef — whether we are cooking it, talking about it, eating it or promoting it. We were all excited, had a lot of fun and learned so much from each other and the experts.

We had group sessions and worked one-on-one in workshops with our instructors. Daren Williams, senior executive director of communications at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and one of the founders of the MBA program, worked with us on our presentations, while Brandi Buzzard Frobose, manager, Issues Communication, at NCBA, assisted us with blog development.

Joe Hansen, associate director, Issues Response, for NCBA, taught us more about social-media strategy, Bill Zucker of Ketchum PR conducted mock TV interviews on camera and played them back for us as training tools, and Debbie Lyons-Blythe, a cattle rancher and highly visible ag blogger, gave us assistance in developing our personal message.

We are all very highly motivated people and what we shared was our enthusiasm for the meat industry. All five of the participants came together thanks to this program and learned how to strengthen our talents and build relationships with people whose expertise lie in other areas.

“The highlight of the trip for me was meeting the people and hearing their personal stories on how beef impacts their role in the beef community and learning how we can support each other to help make more people enjoy beef,” said Erickson.

Learning how to increase social-media presence through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Instagram or various other platforms ultimately supports the industry. Social media helps to tell our stories and get people informed — the end goal for our business. Thanks to this program and the Masters of Beef Advocacy, everyone in the industry can learn how to help the future, teach consumers and younger generations, move ahead, and grow.

To enroll in the MBA program, complete the online application at www.beef.org/MBA.