Group Travels 1,249 Miles to Unlock Keys to Beef Value Chain

A small group of breeders were selected to attend the 2024 Beef Leaders Institute and spend a week learning about the beef value chain.

From pasture to plate, it takes multiple links in the value chain to bring Americans the hamburgers they are throwing on the grill this 4th of July. And each link is integral to the success of the others. That was one of many takeaways for the 25 Angus producers selected to attend the 2024 Beef Leaders Institute.

“To tour other parts of the industry, like a large packing plant, and hear about the challenges and how we, as producers, can help reduce those challenges, that is very valuable,” said attendee Rob Phillips of RL Valley Ranch in Athens, Ohio.

The American Angus Association®, in partnership with Certified Angus Beef ® brand and the Angus Foundation, hosts the annual program to develop young cattlemen and women as industry leaders.

“Our Angus breeders are the very beginning of the food chain. They are raising the high-quality Angus genetics that are the very start of things,” said Kara Lee, director of producer engagement at Certified Angus Beef. “However, sometimes producers can be so focused on executing that it can prevent them from having a better understanding of how they impact every step along the way to the consumer.”

The five-day tour started at the American Angus Association® in St. Joseph, Missouri, and traveled to six states before wrapping up at the Certified Angus Beef headquarters in Wooster, Ohio. Attendees toured Tyson-Dakota City, Weborg Feedyard, Buckhead of Ohio, STgenetics, and a Meijer Grocery Store along the way.

The whirlwind of a travel week still allowed time for the attendees to get to know one another. This year’s group came from a wide range of operations that vary in size and kind, representing 16 states and two Canadian providences. 

“Being a part of this really diverse and awesome group of people has been amazing,” said attendee Alli Fender of Flying F Ranch near San Diego, Cali. “It’s nice to now be able to pick up the phone and call any one of these producers to pick their brain about the industry.”

2024 Beef Leaders Institute Attendees:
Alex Acheson, Kansas
Jacy Bapst, Ohio
Annie Benzine, Wisconsin
Michaela Blevins, Montana
Adeleen Bolduc, Alberta, Canada
Kevin Bolduc, Alberta, Canada
Austin Brandt, Iowa
Callie Carson, North Carolina
Kevin Chaffin, Oklahoma
Alli Fender, California
Cole Gardiner, Kansas
Gabby Glenister, New York
Jed Hallstrand, Wisconsin
Amy Higgins, New Brunswick, Canada
Tyler Lulloff, Montana
Jake McCaleb, Tennessee
Blake McDonald, Missouri
Ruben Mendoza, Idaho
Derek Penz, Oklahoma
Rob Phillips, Ohio
Emily Richard, North Dakota
Courtney Stelzer, Wisconsin
Jeff Stokes, Mississippi
Andrew Swanson, Minnesota
Madeline Taylor, Arkansas

Applications for the 2025 Beef Leaders Institute will open in late fall to American Angus Association members between the ages of 25 and 45.

ANGUS MEANS BUSINESS. The American Angus Association® is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving nearly 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