Success in Seattle, 2015 LEAD Conference

Aug. 26, 2015


For more information contact:

Jena McRell, digital editor, at 816-383-5100 or; or

Jaclyn Clark, director of events and education, at 816-383-5100 or


PHOTOS: State and groups available via or 816-383-5155


Success in Seattle, 2015 LEAD Conference

NJAA members travel to Washington to experience agriculture in the northwest.


By Nicole Lane, Angus Media editorial intern


The Leaders Engaged in Angus Development conference, commonly known as LEAD, is a four-day event that brings together National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) members from across the nation to learn about leadership development, agriculture and what life is like in other parts of the country. This year, more than 110 NJAA members ranging in age from 14 to 21 years old traveled to Seattle, Wash., Aug. 6-9 to take part in the annual event sponsored by the Angus Foundation.

“This year’s theme was ‘Success in Seattle’ and it was so much fun getting to explore the city with our Angus juniors and watch them experience new parts of the country, while learning about leadership and building friendships for years to come,” says Jaclyn Clark, American Angus Association director of events and education.

While in Washington, participants visited the famous Pike’s Place Market, toured the Space Needle and spent time on the beach. They also traveled to Taylor Shellfish Farms and Bellwood Acres, an apple orchard and distillery. When not exploring all that the Pacific Northwest had to offer, the juniors attended leadership workshops and heard from industry experts and motivational speakers.

Eric Fernandez, a first-generation Angus producer from Pine Mountain, Ga., says his desire to learn more about the breed is what brought him to the LEAD conference. At 18 years old, he was one of the older members of the group but said he felt like a rookie, since it was his first time at the conference. However, he said it was worth it to gain technical and leadership skills to take home to his herd.

“This was a great opportunity for me to travel to Seattle and meet over 100 like-minded people who share the same common goal of improving ourselves and our cattle,” Fernandez said. “I really enjoyed the Genex presentation, as it taught me all the opportunities available, specifically to juniors, to learn more about genetic technologies and hands-on training in artificial insemination techniques.”


A day on the farm

The home of Taylor Shellfish Farms is in the shallow Samish bay, where a lighthouse made completely from oyster shells — the only one in the world — resides.

Nicole Gilmore, a farm employee, explained to the group that shellfish farming is just like any other type of farm. The Taylor family uses tractors, plants their shellfish in rows and works to protect their crop from predators. They are the largest producer of farmed shellfish in the United States, and operate a business of nearly 500 employees and 11,000 acres of tidelands along the Washington coast and British Columbia. They also operate additional hatchery and nursery facilities in Hawaii and California, a shellfish distribution business in Hong Kong, and are partners growing Fiji Pearls with J. Hunter Pearls Fiji Ltd.

Angus juniors participating in the LEAD conference were able to walk out into the bay, where the shellfish were growing and handle harvested live product.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, being from the Midwest,” says retired National Junior Angus Board (NJAB) Leadership Director Jessica Radcliffe from Weston, Wis. “It was a great way for the juniors to see an industry of farming that they probably aren’t used to, and that’s what we want to relay to them — that we are all involved in agriculture, no matter what product you are producing.”

A short drive north brought the group to Bellewood Acres and Distillery, a family-owned apple orchard and processing facility. John and Dorie Belisle, who planted the initial orchard in 1996 with the intention of producing wholesale apples, operate the farm. No longer wholesale with more than 25,000 fruit trees, the orchard is one of the largest U-Pick operations in western Washington. In addition to the apples, they produce numerous value-added products including apple cider, peanut butter, dried apple chips and distilled apple spirits.

During their visit, juniors were able to tour the orchard and distillery learning how the farm uses apples in various ways for their customers.

The LEAD conference is coordinated by the NJAB, who led team-building activities, leadership workshops and encouraged participants to step outside their comfort zones and meet new friends. Attendees also attended seminars on the Certified Angus Beef® brand, cattle genetics, artificial insemination and marketing presented by industry professionals.

Juniors enjoyed a presentation by Josh Shipp, an entertainer and motivational speaker, who taught them to triumph over hardships in life. The group also received conversational training from Madlynn Ruble, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), on how to advocate for beef.

“LEAD is really life-changing and you get to meet a lot of people and have experiences that you will never get from any other association or club,” said Alana Eisenhour of Wellsville, Pa. “The greatest thing is being able to leave a better leader, advocate and well-rounded person by having these experiences.”

For more information on the LEAD conference or other opportunities for Angus youth, visit A complete list of participants follows.


ANGUS MEANS BUSINESS. The American Angus Association® is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving nearly 25,000 members across the United States and Canada. It provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on the power of Angus to produce quality genetics for the beef industry and quality beef for consumers.

For more information about Angus cattle and the American Angus Association’s programs and services, visit




2015 LEAD Participants



Katlyn Tunstill, Fayetteville

Conner Cole, Russellville

Nicholas Pohlman, Prairie Grove

Will Pohlman, Prairie Grove



Tyler Coleman, Modesto

Dawson Dal Porto, Brentwood

Matt Fenn, Waterford

Brittany Hefner, Springville

Macy Perry, Prather

Emily Piland, Rescue

Rex Roseman, Rocklin



Raina Syrnyk, Ethelbert, Manitoba

Kayla Scott, Elora, Ontario



Alex Vieselmeyer, Amherst

Austin Vieselmeyer, Amherst



Eric Fernandez, Pine Mountain

Haley Throne, Lexington



Kyle Bratton, Caldwell

Lauren Casdorph, Twin Falls

Johnathan Gillespie, Emmett

Shane Kerner, Weiser

Kassidy Moore, Mountain Home



Chase Anderson, Chrisman

Keegan Cassady, Normal

Laramie Chaffin, Roodhouse

Lindsey Decker, Philo

Gabrielle Lemenager, Clifton



Madison Butler, Vincennes



Haley Greiman, Perry

Olivia Johnson, Prole

Baxter Knapp, Bloomfield

Tim Mardesen, Oxford

Nicholas Prevo, Pulaski



Alexandria Cozzitorto, Lawrence

Hadley DeHoff, Tonganoxie 

Megan Green, Leavenworth

Mia Hastings, Wamego

Cale Hinrichsen, Westmoreland

Eva Hinrichsen, Westmoreland

Esther McCabe, Elk City

Sarah Pelton, Paradise

Evan Woodbury, Quenemo

Morgan Woodbury, Quenemo



Corbin Cowles, Rockfield

Caroline Cowles, Rockfield

Catherine Cowles, Rockfield

Josh Jasper, Nicholasville

Jesse Kostbade, Henderson

Destiny McCauley, Cynthiana

Tyler McGinnis, Shelbyville

Abigail Smoot, Campbellsville

Bradshaw Smoot, Campbellsville



Katelyn Corsentino, Denham Springs



Michael Cropp, Damascus



Austin Pillars, Martin



Linsey Anderson, Conway

Conrad Behlmann, Saint Paul

Paige Birk, Cape Girardeau

Genesis Brannon, Ellsinore

Reba Colin, Butler

Jacob Heimsoth, Cameron

Caitlin Hoak, Hamilton

Joseph Hoak, Hamilton

Chris Kahlenbeck, Union

Seth Kurtz, Clarksdale

Andrea Larson, Stella

Chase Monte, Mexico

Elizabeth Otte, Saint Mary

Carrie Otte, Saint Mary

Tommy Otte, Saint Mary

Jera Pipkin, Republic

Sydney Thummel, Sheridan



Jordyn Wagner, Billings



Michaela Clowser, Milford

Reagan Skow, Palisade


New York

Katharine Wesche, Shortsville


North Dakota

Madison Sundsbak, Des Lacs



Lydia Dance, Hillsboro

Lauren Grimes, Hillsboro



Ryan Callahan, Edmond

Braden Henricks, Anadarko



Megan Albers, Bend

Madison Cox, Eagle Point

Hayley DeHaan, McMinnville

Corrie Falleur, Gearhart

Mariam Horton, Christmas Valley

Nicholas Sheridan, Yamhill



Nathan Briggs, New Bloomfield

Bailey Druck, York

Alana Eisenhour, Wellsville

Brody Fitzgerald, West Grove

Bryce Fitzgerald, West Grove

Andrea Foore, Seven Valleys

Claudia Hissong, Greencastle

Dakota Mayle, Dover

Daniel Rohrbaugh, Seven Valleys

Caleb Schmuck, Thomasville

Alysha Sweitzer, Wellsville

Haley Sweitzer, Wellsville

Lindsay Upperman, Chambersburg

Madison Weaver, Ephrata


South Dakota

Tyler Bush, Britton

Alex Rogen, Brandon

Madison Styles, Brentford



Georgia Blackwell, Venus

Dylan Denny, Lubbock

Robert Dolson, Hico

Tanner Hash, Archer City

Lexi Stevenson, Bedford

Emily Stovall, Corsicana

Calli West, Paris

Tylee Williams, Rio Vista

Derek Wolf, Windthorst



Morgan Alexander, Berryville

Callie Eastin, Gretna

Will Fiske, Greenville

Catie Hope, Berryville



Shelby Burrus, Tacoma

Katie Emerson, Grand Coulee

Will Gannon, Goldendale

Cassandra Garcia, Renton

Alyx Hanson, Elk

Ashley Hanson, Elk

Garrett Hanson, Elk

Callie Hanson, Newport

Olivia Hanson, Newport

Tatiana Taylor, Goldendale

Tarisa Toth, Anacortes

Andrew Toth, Anacortes

Amanda Toth, Anacortes

Kelsey Vejraska, Omak


West Virginia

Reese Tuckwiller, Lewisburg



Kori Beisbier, Reedsburg

Paige Gaffney, Barneveld

Evan Henning, Janesville

Suzanne Henning, Janesville

Jessica Radcliffe, Weston



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