Angus youth “kick it in Cali” at 2023 LEAD conference

August 15, 2023




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Holly Martin, director of communications



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Cutline: Angus youth gathered at the 2023 LEAD (Leaders Engaged in Angus Development) conference, Aug. 3-6 in Modesto, Calif. A total of 132 juniors from 28 states and Canada attended the conference, “Kickin' it in Cali,” where they enhanced leadership and interpersonal skills while learning more about the beef industry. The group is pictured at Schnoor Park, Chowchilla, Calif., one of the conference tour stops.



Angus youth “kick it in Cali” at 2023 LEAD conference

National Junior Angus Association members gather in Modesto, California.


National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) members from 28 states and Canada gathered for the Leaders Engaged in Angus Development (LEAD) conference August 3-6 in Modesto, California. Attendees experienced the state’s diverse agriculture and enhanced their leadership skills through activities and speakers. With 132 junior members in attendance, the conference allowed youth to network and form relationships with peers from a variety of backgrounds.

The LEAD conference travels to a new state annually, designed to expose NJAA members to different sectors of the agriculture industry. While exploring the region, youth gain perspective on unique agricultural practices, explore potential career opportunities and develop as future industry leaders.

“LEAD provides our NJAA members with countless new experiences and opportunities for personal growth,” said Madeline Bauer, senior events coordinator at the American Angus Association®. “Juniors are having fun, but beyond that, they’re forming lifelong friendships and gaining exposure to completely unfamiliar agricultural operations.”

Upon arrival, conference attendees heard a keynote message from Fernando-Sam Sin, professional rodeo photographer, and enjoyed networking with fellow juniors. Educational tours on Friday allowed the group to explore the diverse scope of California agriculture, and each were family-owned operations. Stops included E. & J. Gallo Winery, the largest wine producer in the world; Fiscalini Farmstead, a dairy farm established in 1914 which makes award-winning, artisanal cheese; Ratto Bros., a company farming over 1,000 acres to produce more than 35 vegetable varieties; and Duarte Nursery, the largest permanent crops nursery in the United States. Attendees spent the evening at Vintage Angus Ranch, visiting educational stations covering topics like livestock photography and marketing, hot branding, in-vitro fertilization and pregnancy checking.

Saturday started with an early wake-up call as juniors loaded the buses and traveled to Yosemite National Park. After a morning exploring the park and enjoying scenic views, attendees visited one of California’s largest independent almond processors, Minturn Nut Company. The day’s final stop was Schnoor Park, where attendees heard from past NJAA members and sisters Amanda, Kirbe and Sydney Schnoor on how their junior Angus involvement shaped their careers.

After a Sunday morning devotional and time to reflect on their experiences, juniors prepared to travel home. While they had to say their goodbyes, they left equipped with new memories, experiences and friendships to carry with them.

Kathryn Coleman, NJAA events director, said it was rewarding to bring the LEAD conference to California and assist in coordinating the event.

“LEAD was extra special this year, being able to bring it back to my home state — I really embraced the role as the events director,” said Coleman, “Knowing that most of these juniors don’t have the opportunity to see the west or fully comprehend what all it has to offer on the agricultural side, I wanted to deliver just that and to give 110 percent to this conference.”

The Angus Foundation makes the LEAD conference possible with support from the Angus Fund, which provides unrestricted dollars to further the Foundation’s mission of enhancing education, youth and research for the breed. To learn more about the LEAD conference, visit


   Written by Peyton Schmitt, Angus Communications  


About the NJAA
The NJAA promotes the involvement of young people in raising Angus cattle while also providing leadership and self-development opportunities for more than 5,000 active members nationwide.

About the Angus Foundation
Established as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1980, the Angus Foundation remains focused on its mission to support Angus education, youth, and research. The organization as distributed more than $3.9 million in youth scholarships since 1998 and has also invested more than $1.3 million in beef cattle research in the past decade.

For more information, contact the Angus Foundation at 816-383-5100.

ANGUS MEANS BUSINESS. The American Angus Association® is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving more than 22,000 members across the United States, Canada and several other countries. It’s home to an extensive breed registry that grows by more than 300,000 animals each year. The Association also provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on 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, visit

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