HELENA, Mont. (December 18, 2023) – The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is excited to announce the first graduating class of its premier leadership program – the Montana Stockgrowers M Bar Academy.
Launched in June of 2022, The M Bar Academy is an 18-month program which fosters and grows leaders in the Montana ranching industry and provides individuals the opportunity to improve leadership skills, gain understanding of industry issues, and develop the expertise needed to provide leadership in Montana Stockgrowers, its partner organizations, public service, and in the cattle industry.
During MSGA’s Annual Convention and Trade Show in early december, the M Bar Academy recognized the 2022-2023 cohort, which includes:
Tristan Bess – White Sulphur Springs, Mont.
Tristan currently works at the Castle Mountain Ranch in White Sulphur Springs, Mont. Tristan was the first student accepted into the Dan Scott Ranch Management Program at Montana State University and graduated with honors from the program.
Colton Coffee – Miles City, Mont.
Colton is the manager of Coffee Cattle Company of Miles City, Mont. He holds a J.D. and a master’s degree in business from the University of Montana.
Rocky Forseth – Helena, Mont.
Rocky serves as a customer service specialist and provides cattle procurement services for Allied Genetic Resources. He is also a sales representative for Superior Livestock. Rocky is the Montana Simmental Association president and serves as vice-chair on MSGA’s Cattle Marketing Committee.
Albert Koenig – Belgrade, Mont.
Albert currently works at the Montana Beef Council as their field representative. Albert has also represented the Montana cattle ranching industry internationally during the National Beef Symposium in Kazakhstan.
Joe Lewis – Lindsay, Mont.
Joe is the owner/operator of 52 Ranch in Lindsay, Mont. Joe has also worked in recent years to quickly grow a Nutra-Lix business and be a stand-out dealer with their network.
Cole McCann – Havre, Mont.
Cole serves in the role of livestock operations manager at Montana State University’s Northern Agricultural Research Center. Cole is known for teaching the latest ag techniques to students from across the country. Away from the research center, he also continues to ranch on his family operation.
Makae Nack – Geraldine, Mont.
Makae works as an agriculture instructor at Dawson Community College in Glendive, Mont.
While a collegiate student, Makae served as the vice president of Montana State University’s Collegiate Stockgrowers and treasurer of the Collegiate Cattlewomen.
Stan Olson – Hobson, Mont.
Stan is the owner/operator of Hobson Farm Co. Prior to returning to Montana, Stan owned and operated a retail ag business for more than 35 years. He is an active member of his community, serving as a supervisor for the Judith Basin Conservation District and on the Judith Basin Stockgrowers Board of Directors.
Audra Ortega – Glasgow, Mont.
Audra has worked on her family’s ranch operation near Glasgow, Mont., after completing her degree at Montana State University in Livestock Management. Currently, Audra works alongside her brother and father and supervises the family’s feedlot, cattle nutrition, pasture rotations, and feed procurements.
Keni Reese – Helena, Mont.
Keni serves in the role of director of marketing and communications for the Montana Stockgrowers Association. Hailing from Texas, Keni brings a diverse background in production agriculture and marketing and communications to MSGA. Earlier this year, Keni was named to COWGIRL Magazine’s 30 Under 30 program which celebrates women in the Western industry.
Amber Sitz – Dillon Mont.
Amber holds the role of social media marketing for Sitz Angus Ranch in Harrison, Mont. While at Montana State University, Amber served as the vice president, historian, and secretary of the Collegiate Stockgrowers throughout her tenure.
Leoma Wells – Roy, Mont.
Leoma is the owner of DATA GENIE LLC and works in DNA and genomics. A native of California, Leoma comes from a cow/calf background and has previously worked at the American Simmental Association. She also serves on MSGA’s Seedsock Committee.
Chance Wilson – Scobey, Mont.
Chance is the owner/operator of his family’s ranch in Scobey, Mont. He has a degree in welding and returned to the family ranch early in his career. Chance also served as a 4-H ambassador.
Cameron Wolenetz – Baker, Mont.
Cameron is the vice president/manager of Wolenetz Ranch Inc. in Baker, Mont. A recent graduate of Montana State University in Agricultural Education, Cameron held the role of president of the Collegiate Stockgrowers.
Carissa Workman – Wolf Creek, Mont.
Carissa works for Northwest Farm Credit Services as a credit officer. She has also previously served as the treasurer of the Montana State University’s Collegiate Stockgrowers.
Sponsors of the M Bar Academy include Agri-Best Feeds, Frontline Ag Solutions, Montana Stockgrowers Foundation, Montana Association of State Grazing Districts, Montana Public Lands Council, Montana Cattlewomen, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Rangeland Resources, and Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Applications for the 2024-2025 cohort will open on February 2024. Additional information regarding the M Bar Academy can be found at www.mtbeef.org.
The Montana Stockgrowers Association is a grassroots membership organization and is the trusted voice of cattle ranchers. With 140-years of history, MSGA advocates and ensures cattle ranching remains relevant, safe and a sustainable way of life for generations to come.