Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday

On mornings when Mr. Optimistic beats me out of bed (which is most of them) he opens the kennel door on our dog Bear. When I hear the metal latch, I know I have exactly 17 seconds to get out of bed or be Bear’s trampoline. This morning I took my chances with the fur ball. I’ve been travelling a lot lately and sincerely miss....everything. It rendered me useless.

But travelling has also made me thankful for everything that resembles home.

Here’s what I’ve been missing…

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Finishing my MBA

In 2007 I asked God to never put me through another master’s program. But this time we both made an exception.

The NCBA’s Master’s of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program is an excellent way for producers and beef enthusiasts to become better prepared to communicate with the public about beef issues. While I have always had a passion for all things bovine, I had often been afraid of saying the wrong thing. It’s not unusual for me to spend a good portion of my evening replaying conversations in my head and torturing myself over what I should have said. Occasionally, I like to torture Mr. Optimistic with my faux conversations as well.

So I was a little torn between wanting to advocate for my industry and not wanting to do us all more harm than good. Enter: NCBA’s MBA. The great part about this training program is that you get a broad overview of the beef industry, as well as specific talking points for everyday situations, or if you’re feeling brave presentations. Growing up in the cow-calf sector, this program especially helped me learn more about other phases of production. It also helped me better understand consumer concerns and the best ways to share information.

Even better…Once you complete your degree you’ll be connected to producers from across the country in the MBA alumni program. Like Facebook for cattle people, they have helpful tools to keep you updated on issues occurring within the media.

I must say I feel a bit guilty referring to my Master’s of Beef Advocacy as an MBA.

1) Most master’s degree programs I’m familiar with require a minimum of 30 hours coursework. The MBA requires only six online modules.
2) My MBA was free! No monthly payment to the Dept. of Ed.
3) It can be completed from the comfort of your own home. In your cow pajamas.

Check it out for yourself:

No really do it now.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Love Online

I Love Beef!

Let’s be real….all 8 of my followers probably knew that.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to do more to promote beef in my daily life. Mostly the result of a concept presented by Daren Williams, Executive Director of Communications for NCBA. If 48 people spend 10 minutes per day on beef advocacy, it's the full-time equivalent of one employee working to preserve your way of life.

As a rule my non-confrontational nature and low tolerance for BS (other than my own) has caused me to skip engaging in any online debate. You just don’t know who you’re debating or if they care to learn. Today however, I side-stepped my natural inclination and responded to an online article about E. coli, featured in USA Today.

On the positive the article highlighted some of the great research going on at K-State to fight E. coli problems (Go State!), but it had a concerning lead. As a journalism major (many years ago), I appreciate the need for an eye-catching introduction.

The author reported eating beef in the winter would be better than the summer because researchers have found higher rates of E. coli among cattle in the summer- conjuring images of questionable summer burgers on the grill.

I understand why the woman did this. The author’s work would have seemed less alarming, if she would have immediately (or ever) pointed out a basic in food safety. Cook your ground beef to 160 degrees and there’s no problem.

I added a short comment that said as much after reading what others had to say. As I read the remaining comments I realized I was the only pro-beef voice on the page. One out of 25. And I got scared. The misconceptions were alarming.

It may be only a small example, but Daren is right we need more voices and from the looks of the comment section the lack of knowledge can be scary….maybe even overwhelming. But please don’t be like me. Don’t assume someone else is responding to articles and false information on your behalf.

Perhaps you have ten minutes?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

First Calf!

We have a bit of a yours, mine, and ours situation at the ranch. Technically a yours and ours situation, as my husband manages a ranch for a living and we have our own operation as well. It began with a small herd of Angus cattle from Illinois when we got married. My mom said it was part of my dowry. I had to Google dowry. We've since grown to a herd of Hereford and Angus cattle that we enjoy developing and growing.

While Mr. Optimistic has been calving cows since January as part of his job managing the ranch.

It was finally "our" turn for the first calf of the season last week.

Too Close!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why Optimistic?

If you knew me, we’d agree that optimism isn’t totally my thing. Mr. Optimistic tells me I'm a realist. Shortly after we got married he said, “Some people wonder if the glass is half empty or half full. You say, ‘Who cares? When you’re done with it put it in the dishwasher.” (A nod to my compulsive organization?)

Today however, I’m quite optimistic. Like many, I was surprised by [yellow tail]’s donation to HSUS (The Humane Society of the United States). Please don’t confuse this organization with your local humane society. While these folks capitalize on a conveniently similar name, they have no real intention of aiding any pets at all. Take it from their ringleader Wayne Pacelle, "We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding." Please don’t tell that to our Corgi.

What’s more they were recently found to be capitalizing on the tragedy in Haiti. “Raising money to help nonexistent animals is the lowest kind of fundraising scam. Sadly, it's just the latest in a string of phony HSUS fundraising schemes,” said David Martosko, Director of Research at the Center for Consumer Freedom.

One thing HSUS is committed to is abolishing meat consumption in the U.S. HSUS’s accusations about how we feed and care for our cattle contain such gross misrepresentations; one wonders if they know which end the feed goes in. Perhaps they don’t know or care that ninety-eight percent of all farms in the US are family owned. Not corporate, not factory, but FAMILY farms. Families like mine that eat the beef we produce.

So last night, I did my agriculturalist duty and signed on to the Facebook [yellow tail] Fan page and asked them to research and reconsider. What I didn’t realize was that I wasn’t going to be one of a handful of people who took the time. It continues today as hundreds of people voice their opinion about the dangerous and misleading “Tails for Tails” program. Yesterday an acknowledgement came from the company that they were reviewing the proposal.

What’s more? I learned I’m not alone. There are hundreds of people on the page and thousands in our industry who are taking the time to not only share their story but their science. After plenty of social media workshops, it was exciting to watch the real thing!
And it’s reason to be optimistic!