The 2022 KLA Young Stockmen’s Academy (YSA) gathered last week for its second installment of the year. Members from across the state spent three days in the Kansas City area touring agribusinesses and beef retailers.
Merck Animal Health, the exclusive sponsor of the program, hosted the class at its Lawrence location. Staff provided an inside look at the animal health industry, led a discussion on consumer perceptions of livestock production and gave a tour of their farm research facility.
The class visited Costco, Hy-Vee and Whole Foods Market, where they learned more about how customers make meat buying decisions. For a look at the various ways beef is marketed in the meatcase, the group also toured Bichelmeyer Meats and Golden Belt Beef, both family-owned retail meat shops based in Kansas City.
YSA had the opportunity to do hands-on cooking at the Culinary Center of Kansas City. Instructed by Chef Bruce Campbell, members learned how to prepare different cuts of beef using various cooking methods, including sous vide, which is the process of placing food in an airtight container and cooking it in temperature-controlled water. Chef Campbell is pictured below with YSA members (L to R) Ethan Wilke, Scott City; Grant Glaser, Marion; and Payden Barrett, Grantville. Additionally, a stop was made at the Johnson County Community College Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center, where the class toured the five culinary labs, innovation kitchen and pastry kitchen.
The group also heard from Kansas Beef Council (KBC) staff. KBC Director of Communications Scott Stebner and KBC Director of Nutrition Abby Heidari explained how they establish relationships with key influencers, such as chefs, dietitians and educators, in order to share the beef message. The class then heard from food influencer Benjamin Fuentes, known as Kansas City Foodie Finds on social media, about collaborating with brands like KBC to share the beef message with his followers.
The third educational tour for the YSA class will be held in September. Members will visit Kansas beef and dairy operations.