NIAA holds training session

The event explored Kansas agriculture businesses.

The third cohort of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s (NIAA) Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders recently convened in Topeka, Kansas, for its third in-person leadership training session. This session provided a comprehensive exploration of Kansas agriculture businesses, offering insights into various facets of the agriculture industry.

During its time in Topeka, the leaders learned from several notable agriculture professionals and businesses:

  • Booth Creek Wagyu: Founder and owner Dave Dreiling shared the story of his ranch, explaining why and how he raises Wagyu cattle. He also discussed creating a healthy culture within a business and entrepreneurship.

  • Snyder Ranches: Representatives shared their experiences in raising sheep, detailing the different types of sheep farming and their efforts with meat sheep.

  • Red Beard Butcher: TC Turner led a discussion and butchery demonstration of a Snyder Ranches lamb, with several cohort members participating in the demo.

  • NextGen Cattle Co.: Derek Thompson hosted the group and discussed the company’s leadership and business development strategies.

  • ABS Global: Chief Genetics Officer Joe Epperly and Cohort 3 member, Johnna Granville, outlined the company's work in genetics and Granville’s role and responsibilities.

  • Smoke on Wheels: Pitmaster Andy Groneman showcased his culinary skills using the butchered lamb from the demonstration, explaining how to utilize the carcass for a Tip-to-Tail dinner.

  • Vytelle: CEO Kerryann Kocher closed the session with a discussion on leadership principles, her journey as an entrepreneurial leader and building high-level, international teams.

“The most recent meeting in Topeka was eye-opening for me and again drove home what many of us are fighting for: The preservation of agriculture with the injection of new technology for sustainability,” said Sarah Coleman, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Council. “Listening to the team at NextGen Cattle Co. was an incredible reminder that the food animal industry is constantly honing their skills to create animals that can feed the world, as fiscally and ethically responsible as possible.”

In January, NIAA announced the selected participants for the third cohort of the Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders. This leadership training course, sponsored by the United Soybean Board and Farm Credit, was created by NIAA to empower animal agriculture professionals to strengthen previous leadership development experiences and collaborate with peers across the industry.

The third cohort of the Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders represents a diverse range of agricultural sectors, aiming to advance animal agriculture’s role in today’s food system. Participants include:

  • Johnna Baller--Granville–Genus ABS
  • Ryan Bennett–U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs and International Poultry Welfare Alliance
  • Kristi Block–North American Meat Institute
  • Sarah Coleman–The Kentucky Horse Council
  • Rose Digianantonio–State of Wyoming Livestock Board
  • Will Fiske–Neogen Genomics
  • Chelsea Good, JD--Livestock Marketing Association
  • Rita Harkless--Perdue Foods
  • Blaine Johnson–Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Tanner King–Neogen Genomics
  • Ashley Kohls–Minnesota Turkey Growers Association
  • Jennifer Koziol–Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Rahul Kumar–Zoetis, Inc.
  • Megan McCullough–North American Meat Institute
  • Emmanuel Okello–University of California, Davis
  • Kelli Payne–Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation
  • Hanna Robbins–Butterball
  • Dakota Thomas–Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO)
  • Jackson Tolle–United Producers, Inc.
  • Hattie Webb–Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Visit to learn more about the leadership program and its sponsors. View our blog to see photos from the Topeka leadership experience.

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