February 2000 // Volume 38 // Number 1 // Ideas at Work // 1IAW2

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Youth Beef Roundup

An intensive two-day program for youth with an interest in the beef industry was designed with the following objectives: (a) Provide youth with skills and knowledge necessary for more active involvement in the family's farm or ranch; (b) Introduce youth to opportunities in the beef industry beyond production; (c) Familiarize youth with the University faculty and facilities; and (d) Develop leadership skills. An evaluation of the program by the youth indicated they significantly increased their knowledge in all the topic areas covered and that they would use the information in the future.

Rosie Nold
Extension Youth Specialist, Animal Science
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska
Internet address: rnoldl@unl.edu

Over 29,000 farms and ranches in Nebraska are involved in beef production. The beef industry offers a myriad of career opportunities, ranging from production to public relations to food safety. Even though many youth are active the management and day-to-day operations, informing them about current production practices and other aspects of the beef industry can have a positive impact on the industry.

Although the opportunity to remain on the ranch may not exist for all, knowing about other parts of the beef industry may encourage them to remain involved in the future. To help youth become more informed, the Youth Beef Roundup was held at the University of Nebraska Animal Science Complex in Lincoln. Other objectives were to familiarize youth with the University of Nebraska faculty and facilities and to develop leadership skills.

During this intensive two-day program, youth participated in eight different workshops that included hands-on activities such as giving injections, implanting, reading labels, condition scoring cows, yield and quality grading beef carcasses, and using the Internet to select bulls based on their EPD's. They also learned about job interviews and careers in the beef industry. Other activities included taste-testing beef products, seeing fistulated steers and their rumen contents, learning how ultrasound can be used to determine the sex of a fetus, learning how to calculate break even prices for calves, dealing with misinformation about the beef industry, and touring a meat processing facility.

The workshop targeted youth ages 12-18. The registration fee of $60 covered the cost of one night in a college dormitory, meals, and use of equipment and facilities. Many received scholarships from local cattle organizations and/or 4-H groups to attend the Roundup.

In an evaluation of the program, 95% of the youth stated they would use the information and knowledge gained at the Roundup in the near future. Specifically, 85% stated they would use it to improve a 4-H project, 80% would use it to help decide on a college major, 70% would use it to help decide on a future career, and 60% would use it in their future career. In addition, 95% of the youth planned to stay involved in the beef industry in one or more ways: 75% planned to be directly involved in beef production, 20% plan to be involved in public relations for the beef industry, and another 10% plan to be involved in another industry directly related to beef production.

Youth were asked to rank their knowledge about various topics before and after attending the Roundup. A scale of 1 to 5 was used, with 1 indicating "No Knowledge" and 5 indicating "Much Knowledge". Pre- and post-knowledge results were analyzed in paired T-tests for each topic covered by a workshop. Youth's perceptions of the pre- and post-Roundup knowledge were significantly different for all topics. Results were as follows:

Average BEFOREAverage AFTER
TOPICMeanSDMeanSDP value
Cattle Handling4.30.334.85.13<.00
Beef Quality Assurance2.10.623.95.37<.001
Food Safety2.85.454.00.42<.001
Meat Tenderness2.60.674.05.26<.001
Cow Nutrition2.89.774.05.50<.001
Beef Genetics2.701.484.10.83<.001
Break even Prices2.45.983.90.94<.001
Meat Processing2.55.374.05.47<.001
Job Interviews3.10.834.10.52<.001
Consumers' Views3.30.754.30.43<.001
Retailers' Views2.751.043.95.58<.001
Restaurants' Views2.30.854.10.62<.001

Youth also had the opportunity to add written comments to the evaluation. Written comments were very positive about the program, especially the hands-on aspects. Written comments made about the program included "This is a good program that will help many of us understand the beef industry", and "I learned a lot and liked the hands-on stuff..".

Informal evaluations by faculty members involved indicated the youth were very interested in the workshops, the youth felt they learned something from the workshops that they could take home to their farm or ranch, and that the youth became more comfortable with asking questions and talking with faculty as the program progressed.

Based on the evaluations by youth and faculty, the program will be continued in its present format.