Kyle Larsen, of Clare, said last summer's pork youth leadership camp with Texas showed him "opportunities I never knew, like how big is swine genetics and all the production that goes on behind the scenes."
Nichole Licht, of Humboldt, who attended the same camp, said she had long planned to study pre-veterinarian medicine, but the summer camp showed her "there are other opportunities if I should change my mind."
Larsen and Licht were Monday night's featured speakers at the 2012 Webster County Pork Producers' annual meeting.
-Messenger photo by Larry Kershner
Nicole Licht, of Humboldt, standing left, and Kyle Larsen, of Clare, related on Monday how the Iowa-Texas Pork Leadership Camp helped them to see opportunities within the pork industry. They spoke at the Webster County Pork Producers’ annual meeting in Fort Dodge.
They were part of the inaugural Iowa-Texas Pork Youth Leadership Camp, which brought Iowa youth in the swine industry together with counterparts from Texas.
Touring in both states from June 4 through June 10, youths visited production facilities, learned how to interview with media, participated in autopsies of pigs to determine causes of death, toured a genetics lab, Ellsworth Community College ag buildings in Iowa falls, the meat lab at Iowa State University, toured a Hormel packing plant in Osceola and topped off the camp attended the World Pork Expo.
"We gained knowledge, to aid us in future career choices,"?Licht told the audience of 60, "and made Texas friends and we'll remember this trip the rest of our lives."
Larsen described that the camp experience helped him to see that process of breeding swine for top production of quality meat, safe processing and other behind-the-scenes activities that benefit consumers, is also reversed when consumers buy pork products, benefitting all those who were part of the process inn getting safe food to the dinner plate.
"Pork is leaner than chicken,"?Larsen said, "and just one purchase impacts (many) people."
Licht, who was named Webster County's 2012 Pork Queen earlier in the night, said she realized there are many people in-volved in the pork industry. "Even some who don't realize they are."
When asked for specifics, she said, "People who work in grocery stores are part of the industry because they are helping to sell it."
Gregg Hora, a rural Fort Dodge pork producer and president of Webster County's organization reminded the membership that "we are in the protein meat business, producing a valuable food that's safe for the consumer."
He said the leadership camp was one of several "neat opportunities for young people to get involved" in the pork industry.
Other programs include scholarships, internships and Pork Quality Assurance training taught at the 4-H and FFA levels, he said.
Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, ext. 453 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.