TUHS sophomore will help educate Californians about beef and beef production and compete at National Beef Ambassador competition to be held September 26-27 in Denver

Taft Union High School sophomore Shane Stubblefield and Humboldt County native Jillian Casacca have been selected from among 26 students as this year’s senior and junior California Beef Ambassadors. The runners-up in the competition, held April 26 at the Emma Prusch Farm Park in San Jose, were Nicole Cowley of Siskiyou County in the Senior Division, and Danielle Mueller of Tehama County in the Junior Division.

The 2014 Beef Ambassadors both have a personal interest in the industry.

Stubblefield, the Junior Beef Ambassador and sophomore at Taft High School, is active in Future Farmers of America and the Taft High welding team. He spends much of his time helping out on his family cattle ranch.

Casacca, the Senior Beef Ambassador, is currently a student at California State University, Chico, where she is majoring in agricultural business with a minor in animal science. She also owns her own small herd of registered and commercial Angus cattle.

The California Beef Ambassador Competition helps prepare youth in agriculture to educate consumers about beef and beef production on a statewide level. The ambassadors share personal experiences, product samples and key beef messaging on nutrition, recipes, animal welfare, the environment and other key issues. In this year’s contest, 15 students in the junior division (ages 12-16) and 11 students in the senior division (ages 17-20) competed in three categories: a mock media interview, a mock consumer event, and issues response, in which they were judged on a written opinion piece.

Casacca and Stubblefield will both advance to the National Beef Ambassador competition to be held September 26-27 in Denver, where they will compete with representatives from other states for the chance to be among five young adults chosen to serve on the National Beef Ambassador Team and educate consumers on a national level. National Beef Ambassadors increase consumer reach through their attendance at promotional events during consumer expos, health fairs and in-store demonstrations.

“Consumers today are generations removed from agriculture, which contributes to a general lack of awareness of where our food really comes from,” said Sarah DeForest of the California CattleWomen and chairwoman of the 2014 California Beef Ambassador Competition. “The Beef Ambassador program is so important because it provides the preparation, training and platform for youth to connect with and answer questions from people about the benefits of beef, how cattle are raised, and the positive impacts of ranching, among other topics.”

The California Beef Ambassador Competition is made possible each year by the California CattleWomen and the California Beef Council, and this year’s contest included support from the Santa Clara CattleWomen and the Emma Prusch Farm Park Foundation.