USDA and SCORE Launch Innovative Mentorship Effort to Support New Farmers and Ranchers

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with officials from SCORE, the nation’s largest volunteer network of expert business mentors, to support new and beginning farmers. Today’s agreement provides new help resources for beginning ranchers, veterans, women, socially disadvantaged Americans and others, providing new tools to help them both grow and thrive in agri-business.

“Shepherding one generation to the next is our responsibility. We want to help new farmers, veterans, and people transitioning from other industries to agriculture,” said Secretary Perdue. “They need land, equipment, and access to capital, but they also need advice and guidance. That’s what SCORE is all about.”

SCORE matches business professionals and entrepreneurs with new business owners to mentor them through the process of starting-up and maintaining a new business. USDA and its partners across rural America are working with SCORE to support new farming and ranching operations, and identify and recruit mentors with a wealth of agricultural experience.

Secretary Perdue announced the new partnership in Des Moines during the Iowa Agriculture Summit. Perdue was joined by Steve Records, Vice-President of Field Operations for SCORE in signing a Memorandum of Understanding that will guide USDA and SCORE as they partner in the mentorship effort, which will soon expand to other states.

“SCORE’s mission to help people start and grow vibrant small businesses is boosted by this new partnership with USDA. America’s farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses will benefit from the business knowledge and expertise SCORE can offer,” said Records. “The partnership allows both SCORE and USDA to serve more people while providing America’s farmers added support to lead to more sound business operations, create profitable farms with sustainable growth and create new jobs. We are excited at the opportunity to extend SCORE’s impact to our farmers and the agriculture industry.”

SCORE mentors will partner with USDA and a wide array of groups already hard at work serving new and beginning farmers and ranchers, such as the FFA, 4-H, cooperative extension and land grant universities, nonprofits, legal aid groups, banks, technical and farm advisors. These partnerships will expand and integrate outreach and technical assistance between current and retired farmers and agri-business experts and new farmers.

This joint initiative leverages SCORE’s 10,000 existing volunteer mentors and USDA’s expertise and presence in agricultural communities to bring no-cost business mentoring to rural and agricultural entrepreneurs. This initiative will also be another tool to empower the work of many community-based organizations, cooperative extension and land grant universities working with beginning farmers in their communities. SCORE mentorship will also be available to current farmers and ranchers. Anyone interested in being a mentor can get more information and sign up on the USDA New Farmers’ website at https://newfarmers.usda.gov/mentorship.

Source: USDA

Affiliate Mentorship Program Brings Ranchers to Helena for Leadership Workshop

AMPMontana Stockgrowers Association is in its second year of making a renewed effort to connect with Local Affiliate groups from across the state. The Affiliate Mentorship Program (AMP), which is designated as a three-year program, has been designed to connect the existing dots of communication between the Local Affiliates and MSGA. It encourages individual producers across the state to become involved in the outcome of their own destiny within the BEEF industry through their local affiliate and on to MSGA.

Our AMP program annual meeting took place this February with a two-day workshop held in Helena. 60 leaders, representing 15 Local Affiliate Associations from across the state were invited to learn more about what Montana Stockgrowers is doing for members on a state and national level. Attendees were also invited to provide feedback on improvements in communication and opportunities Local Affiliates would like to see from MSGA.

The leadership seminar is designed to empower individuals to engage by sharing their thoughts, ideas and concerns in a constructive manner to a constructive audience that can respond in a beneficial way and to become more familiar with how MSGA develops policy and strategies to continue to be an effective leader in the industry.

During the meeting, attendees had the opportunity to meet with the MSGA Board of Directors, hear from Executive Vice President, Errol Rice, gave an overview of MSGA’s structure and how information flows between state and local levels. Director of Natural Resources, Jay Bodner, informed the group on how MSGA handles policy issues during the legislative session and how MSGA works to give Montana ranchers representation on important policy and regulation changes. Manager of Communications, Ryan Goodman, introduced the group to the many ways MSGA is working to build communication channels within membership and to elevate the story of Montana ranchers.

Andy Kellom Montana Rancher EducationAttendees also had the opportunity to hear from Renea Heinrich with MorganMeyers. Renea provided this year’s AMP participants with an educational platform on “Becoming Ambassadors for Agriculture: Changing the Conversation”. Participants learned how to become better ambassadors for agriculture by discovering how to tell their stories in ways that are meaningful to their audiences. The workshop continued to build on last year’s Thought Leadership session, beginning with a refresher on media training skills, and then moved into a discussion around what consumers want to know about animal agriculture and how to deliver that information in ways that will resonate. Attendees learned that transparency is vital in today’s world as is communicating through shared values.

The outcome of the AMP program is to make a more consistent connection between MSGA and the local affiliates. We want to convey the message of who we are and how we are tied together from the local to state levels and then to a national level through existing networking. AMP conveys the message that individuals shape conversations. Those who show up, indeed run the world, however, “It is shaped by those who speak up.”

The AMP program would not be possible without the support of generous sponsors. Special appreciation goes to Merck Animal Health, Montana Livestock Ag Credit Inc., along with the help of several additional private sponsors that wished to remain anonymous.

MSU-Northern Collegiate Stockgrowers Update

MSGA Collegiate Stockgrowers Montana State Northern HavreIt’s hard to believe that MSU Northern’s Collegiate Stockgrowers is already a year old and still going strong. Our group of MSU Northern students is still young and learning the ropes but we’re eager and ambitious.

Laramie Pursley from Chinook, MT started the group and has guided it well throughout the past year, with the help of course from some senior Stockgrowers associates: Lauren Chase and Karoline Rose. They have helped by encouraging our officers to pull in new members at every meeting, educating them on the continued benefits of being involved in the agricultural community, and also encouraging us all to make a presence at the many Stockgrower events throughout the year. The annual convention in Billings this year provided our group with such an amazing learning experience. Not only were the workshops more than what we imagined, we also had the privilege of sitting next to ranchers from all over the state of MT. In addition, we had the opportunity of having Temple Grandin come into our small town of Havre on a very snowy Montana day for the annual Cabin Fever days. Our small group was able to assist the event as best as possible, as well as be enlightened by her cattle handling speech. The trip to Denver was another success where a few of us were able to take a tour of the JBS Beef Facility, 5 river feedlot, NCBA Office, Denver Stock-show and more. Laramie and Jaylee had a fantastic time and had an experience they will never forget.

Then in January our very own Laramie Pursley was crowned Miss Rodeo Montana thus spurring re-election due to her strenuous schedule. Our previous meeting decided the 2014 Officers as follows: Hollyn Cardani as President, John Jansen as Vice President and Jaylee Berg as Secretary/Treasurer.

The first meeting after re-elections on Feb 7th , Hollyn was able to find a guest speaker for our members. The guest speaker was Kim Peterson of “Peterson Grain & cattle” from north of Havre. Kim and his family run a registered Black Angus herd, as well as having an annual bull sale in April. The Peterson family farm/ranch raise wheat, barley, peas and enough forage and grass to support their registered Angus cattle herd. Kim talked to us about what he thought was the most important aspects for the young agricultural generations to know.

Also, at that meeting everyone that is currently in the Mentorship program, started by Lauren Chase, spoke about their experiences so far with their mentors. The four of us that are involved, (Zack McKinley, Laramie Pursley, Kaleb Fisher and Hollyn Cardani), are so very lucky to have had this great opportunity to gain knowledge from these seasoned ranchers across Montana. With calving season just beginning for some, we have scheduled a tour of the Northern Agricultural Research Center up here in Havre during their calving season in March.

The support that our Collegiate Stockgrowers group has had is amazing. Many past Northern Alumni have said how they wished they would have had the chance to have been in a Collegiate Stockgrowers club. With that being said, our group is extremely excited to have the opportunities that come with being involved with Collegiate Stockgrowers and are looking forward to what the future holds for us!

 

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Stockgrowers Launches Affiliate Mentorship Program

Affiliate Mentorship Program Ranchers MeetingThe Montana Stockgrowers Association is renewing our efforts to connect with local Affiliate groups from across the state. The Affiliate Mentorship Program (AMP), which is a three year program, has been designed to connect the existing dots of communication between state affiliates and MSGA. It encourages individual producers across the state to get involved in the outcome of their own destiny within the ranching community through their local affiliate and on to MSGA.

Our AMP program kicked off with a two-day workshop held in Helena in January

MSGA 2nd Vice President, Bryan Mussard, helped attendees learn more about the services MSGA offers Affiliate members across the state.

MSGA 2nd Vice President, Bryan Mussard, helped attendees learn more about the services MSGA offers Affiliate members across the state.

85 leaders, representing 18 Local Affiliate Associations from across the state were invited to learn more about what Montana Stockgrowers is doing for members on a state and national level. Attendees were also invited to provide feedback on improvements in communication and opportunities Local Affiliates would like to see from MT Stockgrowers.

The leadership seminar is designed to empower individuals to engage by sharing their thoughts, ideas and concerns in a constructive manner to a constructive audience that can respond in a beneficial way and to become more familiar with how MSGA develops policy and strategies to continue to be an effective leader in the industry.

During the meeting, attendees had the opportunity to meet with the directors of three state organizations who work closely with Montana Stockgrowers: Christian Mackay, Executive Officer of Department of Livestock; John Tubbs, Director of Department of Natural Resources and Conservation; and Jeff Hagener, Director of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. These directors gave a brief overview of their work on current issues affecting Montana ranchers.

Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from Montana Stockgrowers staff members to learn more about the work done at the state level that benefits Affiliates and members across the state. Executive Vice President, Errol Rice, gave an overview of MSGA’s structure and how information flows between state and local levels. Director of Natural Resources, Jay Bodner, informed the group on how MSGA handles policy issues during and between legislative sessions to give Montana ranchers representation on important policy and regulation changes. Manager of Communications, Ryan Goodman, introduced the group to the many ways MSGA is working to build communication channels within membership and to elevate the story of Montana ranchers.

Affiliate Mentorship Program

The outcome of the AMP program is to make a more consistent connection between MSGA and the local affiliates. We want to convey the message of who we are and how we are tied together from the local to state levels and then to a national level through existing networking. AMP conveys the message that individuals shape conversations. Those who show up, indeed run the world, however, “It is shaped by those who speak up.”

Affiliate Mentorship ProgramThe AMP program would not be possible without the support of generous sponsors. Special appreciation goes to Merck Animal Health, Montana Livestock Ag Credit Inc., along with the help of several additional private sponsors that wished to remain anonymous.

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Montana Young Stockgrowers Walker Milhoan Convention

Montana Ranchers are Role Models

Montana Young Stockgrowers Walker Milhoan Convention

See more blog coverage from the 129th Annual Stockgrowers Convention by clicking here.

By Walker Milhoan, Collegiate Stockgrowers member, University of Montana

The 129th annual Montana Stockgrowers Convention was wonderful this year and the connections and friends I have been in contact with are a constant reminder to me of why I choose to fulfill my career goals within Montana’s ranching industry.

In America today, a 33 year-old male would most likely idolize an NFL star with a sleek physique and a multi-year, multimillion dollar contract. But not this guy. My heroes certainly don’t have chiseled six packs under their button down shirts, their hair is grey, their faces are weathered, and if you were to walk down main street in Billings, Montana and mention their names, people would most likely have to navigate to the third page of Google to find any information about who they are.

These are Americas ranchers; individuals who manage some of the most complex businesses in the world, on some of the most beautiful, yet harsh landscapes known to man. Men like Ray Marxer, Wayne Fahsholtz, and Steve Roth are in charge of keeping extremely complex landscapes running like a Swiss Watch and they do it with the utmost integrity, honor and dedication to the environment, the livestock, and the people.

America should be very proud to have land stewards like this in charge of their food supply!

 

Top 5 ways Collegiates gain from being engaged

MSGA Collegiate Stockgrowers Montana State Northern HavreLast week, I had the opportunity to travel to our Collegiate Stockgrowers meetings in both Bozeman and Havre. Both groups are preparing for Thanksgiving break and Final Exams. The visit was a good chance to meet many of our members, remind them of the benefits of being a Montana Stockgrowers Student member and the advantage of networking and learning opportunities at our upcoming Convention.

Our Collegiate members are inspired and engaged members of their respective University communities. Although they may come from different areas of the state and study programs, they have a common interest in being a part of the ranching community.

Supporting our Young and Collegiate members lends itself to the strengthening of MSGA in the years to come. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. Every opportunity we can use to help them gain more experience and leadership skills, the better prepared they will be for what lies ahead.

What advice do I have to give to Collegiate members looking for opportunities with Montana Stockgrowers?

  1. Take advantage of networking opportunities. Events like our upcoming Annual Convention are the best opportunity you will have to meet leaders within our ranching community. Find out what changes are occurring within the ranching community through these events and learn how they may affect you.
  2. Introduce yourself and leave an impression. Give a firm handshake, look people in the eye, and try your best to remember names. You never know who you may be talking to and leaving a good impression with the right people will pay off down the road.
  3. Seek hands-on experiences outside your comfort zone. It may seem very uncomfortable at the time, but learning how others work in your industry and gaining a better idea of the larger picture helps you understand more about what you want to do for a career and why you want to do it. Internships on different ranching operations was the best thing I ever did to learn more about how I want to shape my future in the ranching community.
  4. Find a mentor. Look for people you want to be like and are respected in their circles and abroad. Find someone who is willing to answer questions and gives you encouragement to learn more. Those connections made through mentorship will last a lifetime. MSGA offers a Mentorship program that will connect you with some of the best leaders in Montana’s ranching community.
  5. Have fun, but stay focused. You’re  only young once. Enjoy it, but don’t let a fun night out wreck what you’ve worked so hard to obtain. Take advantage of opportunities to branch out. You can always return home, but when you’re young, it’s easier to travel and explore the opportunities offered to you.

Montana State University Collegiate Stockgrowers logoLevel of student involvement is highly correlated to student success and development that last well beyond the days of college life. Encouraging our younger generations to get involved in groups like Collegiate Stockgrowers sets us (and them) up for a brighter future.

As a person not far removed from my college undergraduate days, I am very thankful for the mentors I have and those members of the ranching community who gave me opportunity and advice.

What advice do you have for younger members of the ranching community?

Younger members, what development opportunities would you like to see most through a Stockgrowers program?

Walker MIlhoan Montana Collegiate Stockgrowers

What is the value in Mentorship?

Walker MIlhoan Montana Collegiate StockgrowersThe first group of participants in the Montana Stockgrowers Mentorship program will be announced at Annual Convention this year. This program will be a great opportunity for seasoned members of the Montana ranching community to mentor some younger members and help guide their journey as becoming members of the industry. One of the participants is Walker Milhoan.

Walker is a Collegiate Stockgrowers member at the University of Montana in Missoula. Here is a brief Q&A with Walker about participating in the Mentorship program. Applications for both Mentors and Mentees are due November 1

Why do you want to participate in the Mentorship program?

Walker: It has been my life’s goal to call myself a “rancher.” This is all I have ever wanted to do, and fortunately for me, I wasn’t born into the lifestyle. I say “fortunately” because not being born into the ranching business has forced me to think of it in a way that someone who has a lot of tradition behind them might not. It’s not second nature to me, therefore I have to think out and analyze every piece of the puzzle, and this is where a solid mentor can be a great deal of help. Since I can’t always rely on my own intuition and experience, I must fall back on someone who can.

What do you hope to gain while participating as a “Mentee”?

I hope to gain a better understanding of the minutia that comes with cattle business. For example: I was helping this rancher from Helmville ship calves last summer and we were trying to piece together the most similar ones to send to the truck. I thought I had done a good job of pairing up these two steer calves when Dan sorted one of them off and said, “that one has piece of Burdock behind his ear, he came from a different pasture, don’t send him.” I wouldn’t have thought of this in a million years, but Dan did, and it’s those little things that can add up in a hurry. Ranching requires a million little nuances like this everyday and having a solid mentor can help a greenhorn like myself stay out of some of the weeds.

What value do you gain from Mentorship programs? Any suggestions for those who want to become involved?

Montana Stockgrowers Mentorship program

Mentorship Program Applications

Montana Stockgrowers Mentorship programAs the average age of our ranching community grows older, opportunities for younger generations to learn valuable skills become increasingly important. One of the best avenues for younger ranchers to gain insight is through mentorship experiences. To facilitate this, MSGA is launching a Mentorship Program to pair a member of the Collegiate and Young Stockgrowers with a mentor in a similar field within the Montana beef industry. Mentor groups will be expected to communicate periodically and meet in person throughout the year. The hope is to build informal relationships where young producers can develop life skills and learning opportunities through one-on-one interactions with mentors.

Program Expectations

Participants in the program will interact and grow through meeting a series of expectations:

**Communicate though social media, telephone, or email
**CSG/YSG member should have a list of goals and discuss them with the mentor
**Meet in person at an event (MSGA convention, industry event in the area, etc)
**Organize one visit during the year — on the mentor’s ranch or business
**Answer survey questions every three months as a progress report
**Complete a reflection at the end of the year discussing what each other learned, how having a mentor/mentee benefits the beef industry, and a brief overview of interactions

Participants in the Mentorship program will be recognized at the annual convention upon completion.

To learn more about the program. contact Lauren Chase at the MSGA office, or by email (lauren.chase4@gmail.com). Complete the application below or download by clicking hereApplications are due by November 1, 2013.

Applications can be filled out here.