LUBBOCK, Texas — The 2022 Raising the Bar conference was held in Lubbock, Texas March 31-April 3. Seventy-eight National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) members from 20 states gathered for the event, making it the largest-ever Raising the Bar conference. Attendees explored college and career opportunities at Texas Tech University, learned about the region’s agriculture and grew as leaders.
Each year, NJAA members visit a university with a strong agriculture program to gain insight on the institution, which helps prepare them to determine their future plans. Attendees also network with peers from around the country, participate in personal development workshops and visit industry-relevant attractions in the area.
“Our goal is to help Angus juniors explore as many opportunities as possible,” said Madeline Bauer, senior events coordinator at the American Angus Association. “Attending Raising the Bar provides the chance to not only learn about a potential college, but also form meaningful relationships with fellow NJAA members.”
The conference kicked off with an evening of icebreaker activities led by the National Junior Angus Board of Directors. Juniors heard from keynote speaker Markus Miller, Ph.D., a professor of meat science at Texas Tech University (TTU) who coached numerous meat judging teams to seven national championships. Attendees also contributed to an Angus Impact community service project by bringing donations for Voice of Hope, a local crisis center. They heard from representative Kristin Murray about the work the program does for the community.
On Friday, juniors headed to the TTU campus to learn about the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. They heard from students and faculty in the department of Animal and Food Sciences and explored these areas of study. Members participated in hands-on activities including a live beef carcass fabrication, preparing steaks using different cooking methods and an ultrasound demonstration. Attendees then had a meet and greet with the TTU Masked Rider and horse, Fearless Champion, who ride across the field at every football game. They finished the day at Slate Group, a printing company responsible for helping produce many promotional materials used in the agriculture industry and beyond.
Saturday morning the group visited Hale Center Feedyard in Hale Center, Texas, which typically has 65,000 head of cattle on feed. They then toured gg Angus Ranch, where a panel of Angus industry leaders discussed staying involved with the Angus breed after time as an NJAA member has ended. Juniors enjoyed the afternoon with outdoor activities and agricultural history at the National Ranching Heritage Center. For supper, attendees stopped at Evie Mae’s Barbecue, an award-winning Texas-style barbecue joint which proudly serves Certified Angus Beef®. The group wrapped up the evening at 4ORE! Golf to practice their swings and spend quality time with new and old friends from across the country.
The conference concluded Sunday morning with a devotional from Markus Miller and personal development workshops before attendees traveled home. The packed schedule offered Angus juniors an enriching experience, with newfound perspectives on what their futures could hold.
“I feel very fortunate to be one of the students that was able to come,” said Kyli Kraft, an NJAA member from Colorado. “I think it’s a great opportunity and I’d encourage anyone … to consider coming.”
After 14 years, Raising the Bar continues to foster the development of Angus youth by hosting events in regions across the country. The conference is made possible with sponsorship from the Angus Foundation. To learn more about the Raising the Bar conference, visit njaa.info.
–Peyton Schmitt, Angus Communications