Apply for the Angus Foundation Talon Youth Education Learning Program Internship—As a Host or Intern

Applications for the educational summer internship are available.

Angus cattle in a pasture in Southeastern Georgia.If you’re looking for a unique summer internship experience, the Angus Foundation can help. Applications are still available for the Talon Youth Education Learning Program internship on the Angus Foundation website for host Angus breeders and Angus youth.

“The Talon internship program is truly one of a kind in the Angus industry,” says Milford Jenkins, Angus Foundation president. “It gives one lucky student the opportunity to experience ranch management first hand—an invaluable experience. Angus breeders get to work with an up and coming leader in the industry. It’s a win-win scenario for both.”

      Host Angus breeders get the opportunity to teach the intern about different areas of the Angus industry, from cattle showing and veterinary tasks to fence maintenance and irrigation and more. They also can expose the intern to educational events and activities off the farm, such as seminars, field days, etc. The Talon intern host Angus breeder application can be accessed here: Applications are due September 15.

College sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students and recent college graduates who are not older than 25 who have majored in an agriculture-related field are eligible to apply. Applicants must be in good standing with either the American Angus Association or the National Junior Angus Association (NJAS). Angus youth can apply for the Talon internship program at and submit an application by December 1 to the Events and Education department.

      The Talon Youth Education Learning Program internship is the legacy of Camron “Cam” Cooper of Talon Ranch. Cooper set up the Angus/Talon Youth Education Learning Program Endowment Fund in 2009 to be a holistic educational experience for students. The internship program pairs motivated Angus youth with working registered Angus breeders/ranches to provide youth valuable education and work experience for a summer. The internship program is open to college sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students and recent college graduates under age 25 who are majoring in an agricultural field of study.

      In 2017, Jessica Janssen, Fowler, Ind., was selected as the first Talon Youth Education Learning Program intern. She completed an internship with Maher Angus Ranch, Morristown, S.D. Janssen, a 12-year member of the NJAS and Indiana Junior Angus Association, is starting her senior year at Purdue University, where she’s pursuing an Animal Science degree to meet her career goal of becoming a beef nutritionist.

      For more information on the Angus Foundation, visit

Junior Leaders: Apply to Become the Angus Ambassador

Submit an application by September 15 to be considered for the NJAA ambassador position.

njaa_boardThe National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) is beginning its search for the next Angus Ambassador. It’s an elite position that provides an opportunity for a one-year term as spokesperson for the NJAA’s nearly 6,000 members, and connects with cattle producers, consumers and industry professionals nationwide. Applications are available online and must be submitted by Sept. 15.

“As the Angus Ambassador, one junior member is given the opportunity to take his or her passion for Angus cattle to the next level by networking with other Angus producers and beef industry professionals, and by traveling to and attending a variety of engaging events over the course of the year,” says Jaclyn Clark, American Angus Association Director of Events and Education.

Currently serving as the 2017 Angus Ambassador is Cassandra Garcia of Renton, Washington. Garcia is a student at the University of Washington Tacoma studying business marketing. She says she hopes that one day her education in the area of business will allow her to contribute to the “Business Breed” in a meaningful way.

“The ambassador program has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has given me the chance to expand my understanding of this industry”, says Garcia. “Whether it was networking at events, being that bridge between consumers and producers, or representing the Angus breed in the best way possible, it has helped me to grow as an individual in an industry that I love.”

The chosen Angus Ambassador will travel to the following events:

  • Angus Convention in Fort Worth, Texas (candidates);
  • Certified Angus Beef® Building Blocks Seminar in Wooster, Ohio;
  • NCBA Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.;
  • Beef Improvement Federation Annual Research Symposium and Convention in Loveland, Colorado; and
  • Guiding Outstanding Angus Leaders (GOAL) Conference in Canada.

Additonal and existing travel may vary based on the selected ambassador’s location, schedule, and availability.

To be eligible for the Angus Ambassador competition, applicants must be Association members in good standing, between the ages 17-20 as of Jan. 1, who own purebred Angus cattle. They must submit a cover letter, résumé, and two essay responses. Applications can be found online.

Garcia encourages all junior members to apply for the position: “We need strong leaders to represent our association. If you’re thinking about applying, go ahead and do it! I believe all NJAA members have what it takes to become the next great representative of our breed.”

All applications must be postmarked by Sept. 15 and sent to the Association’s Events and Education Department, 3201 Frederick Ave., Saint Joseph, MO 64506.

Once the applications are reviewed, five finalists will be invited to the Angus Convention to participate in the final round of competition, which includes an interview and formal presentation with a panel of judges. The new Angus Ambassador will be chosen at the Awards Recognition Breakfast on Nov. 6.

For more information, please visit the NJAA website at

Southeastern Farmer of the Year 2017

farmer of the yearAt Sugartree Farms near Belvidere, Tenn., Mike Robinson has built a successful family row crop and beef cattle farm. He also owns Sugartree Feeds, a store that adds value to some of his grain, hay and straw.

A farmer for 35 years, Robinson owns 1,108 acres and rents 2,350 acres. He grows corn on 1,200 acres, wheat on 420 acres and oats on 106 acres. He raises full season soybeans on 1,056 acres and double-cropped soybeans on 594 acres. He also raises 250 acres of hay, has about 200 acres in pasture and raises timber on 158 acres.

As a result of his success as a row crop and beef cattle producer, Robinson has been selected as the state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. He joins nine other individuals as finalists for the overall award that will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Sunbelt Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.

His cattle herd includes 125 cows, primarily Angus. The herd produced 120 calves last year that he sold at 600 pounds. The herd includes five registered Angus bulls. He increased his cattle numbers last year when he bought a new herd. He retains about 10% of his heifers as replacements.

Until 2004, he ran a dairy and milked Jersey cows. Robinson converted his milk barn into the feed store where he sells a portion of the farm’s corn and hay.

With last year’s corn yields at 180 bushels per acre for dryland and 230 bushels per acre for irrigated land, he placed third in both no-till irrigated and dryland categories of the National Corn Growers Association’s state yield contest.  He uses chicken litter to reduce fertilizer costs on some of his corn.

His full season soybeans yielded 55 bushels per acre and his doublecropped soybeans yielded 50 bushels per acre. His wheat produced 90 bushels per acre and his oats yielded 100 bushels per acre.

He also grows wheat for hay and straw, and rye for straw. His hay includes orchardgrass and a new alfalfa planting. One of his best tools is a Bale Bandit that can bundle 21 bales at a time, and is a big labor saver when handling and shipping hay and straw. He also adopted precision farming technology such as automated steering, yield monitoring and a sprayer system that prevents overlaps.

Robinson considers timber an important commodity, and uses a forestry consultant to determine when to cut trees. He recently sold red cedar logs to an Amish buyer for use in manufactured wood products.

“Marketing is important for my business,” says Robinson. He uses a marketing consultant and sells most of his grain directly to processors or end users, though some is sold at the farm feed store. Where crop share leases are involved, he often markets grain at local elevators.

He has about 225,000 bushels of grain storage, and stores about 190,000 bushels of corn, 30,000 bushels of soybeans and 5,000 bushels of wheat.

He sells about 27,000 bushels of corn and 12,000 small bales of hay at the store. He also mixes oats, corn, alfalfa and molasses to make feeds for cattle, goats and horses that he sells from the store. He even makes a special quail feed.

The store is also a retailer for Farm King equipment such as grain augers, grain vacuums, nitrogen applicators, tedders and disc mowers. Robinson sees the feed store and machinery dealership as businesses his children can operate while staying on the farm.

A spring storm blew off a portion of the roof at the feed store. That forced Robinson to move the store to the other end of the old dairy barn that turned out to be a better location for the store.

Robinson was young when he started farming. One of his first farm jobs as a child was stacking hay. His dad worked in a heating and air conditioning business and had a 35-acre farm on the side. “I milked a Jersey cow in high school, and sold milk to our neighbors,” says Robinson. “That led me to selling milk to another dairy farm and working for them.” He ended up buying the dairy he worked for.

He borrowed money from his grandfather, and bought 18 acres while in the 11th grade. “As a youth, I had a dream of being a full time farmer,” he says. “Today my wife and I are living our dream.”

Robinson occasionally provides custom farm work to neighboring farms. He has been adding irrigation, and plans to expand irrigation on a farm he bought with river access.

Robinson has been a 30-year Farm Bureau member. He served on the Franklin County Soil Conservation District board, and a Farm Credit advisory board. He was on the board of CFW Waste Management, a local group that promotes animal waste utilization while protecting the environment. He was a member of the Franklin County Livestock Association and a supporter of Farm-City activities.

He has been active in state Farm Bureau and the Cattlemen’s Association activities, and has attended Tennessee and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives meetings.  He has been an American Farm Bureau voting delegate and a member of the National Corn Growers Association.

Mike and his wife Krislyn have been active in Lexie Church of Christ where they help with youth activities. Krislyn is a former teacher and a big help on the farm, according to Mike. In high school she partnered with an uncle in raising hogs. “I wanted to marry a farmer, and I got one,” she says. Krislyn is active in Franklin County Farm Bureau Women, Farm-City activities and has been a supporter of Winchester Christian Academy and Riverside Christian Academy.

They have four children. Twin sons Tracy and Kary are young adults, and daughters KayLee and Callie Pearl are teens. In high school, the twins excelled in robot design competition, a skill that serves them well now on the farm. They’ve designed improved parts for the Bale Bandit and a feed bagging system for use at the store.

KayLee has been active in 4-H and runs sideline businesses selling eggs and raising sweet corn. This summer, KayLee is working at a veterinary clinic. Callie Pearl also is active in 4-H, sold rabbits she raised, helps sell eggs and also helps run the family’s Dachshund dog breeding sideline business. The twin boys started the dog breeding business and passed it on to their sisters.

KayLee also keeps horses for pleasure riding. The family also raises Halflingers, a small breed of draft horse that they occasionally use to till their garden.

Mike says he wouldn’t be surprised to see his sons and daughters someday significantly expand the family’s on-farm feed store.

Robert Burns with the Tennessee Cooperative Extension Service coordinates the Farmer of the Year award in the state. Robinson was nominated for the honor by C. Dallas Manning, Extension area farm management specialist.  “Mike and his family are excellent resource managers and they operate with little hired labor,” says Manning.

Ed Burns, Extension agent in Franklin County, Tenn., admires how Robinson’s family members are so supportive of the farm.

As the Tennessee state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, Robinson will now receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla., a $500 gift certificate from Southern States cooperative and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.

He is now eligible for the $15,000 cash prize that will go to the overall winner. Other prizes for the overall winner include the use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson North America, another $500 gift certificate from Southern States, a Columbia jacket from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply, a smoker-grill from Hays LTI and a Henry Golden Boy “American Farmer Tribute Edition” rifle from Reinke Irrigation.

Swisher International, through its Swisher Sweets cigar brand, and the Sunbelt Expo are sponsoring the Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards for the 28th consecutive year. Swisher has contributed some $1,080,000 in cash awards and other honors to southeastern farmers since the award was initiated in 1990.

Previous state winners from Tennessee include:  James R. Graham of Newport, 1990; Burl Ottinger of Parrottsville, 1991; Dwaine Peters of Madisonville, 1992; Edward Wilson of Cleveland, 1993; Bob Willis of Hillsboro, 1994; Bobby W. Vannatta of Bell Buckle, 1995; George McDonald of Riddleton, 1996; Jimmy Gaylord of Sharon, 1997; Jimmy Tosh of Henry, 1998; Eugene Pugh, Jr. of Halls, 1999; Harris Armour of Somerville, 2000; Malcolm Burchfiel of Newbern, 2001; Ed Rollins of Pulaski, 2002; John Smith of Puryear, 2003; Austin Anderson of Manchester, 2004; John Litz of Morristown, 2005; Bob Willis of Hillsboro, 2006; Grant Norwood of Paris, 2007; Jerry Ray of Tullahoma, 2008; Richard Atkinson of Belvidere, 2009; Brad Black of Vonore, 2010;  Mac Pate of Maryville, 2011; Steve Dixon of Estill Springs, 2012;  Richard Jameson of Brownsville, 2013; John Keller of Maryville, 2014; George Clay of Pelham, 2015; and James Haskew of South Pittsburg, 2016.

Tennessee has had two overall winners, Jimmy Tosh of Henry in 1998 and Bob Willis of Hillsboro in 2006.

A distinguished panel of judges will visit Robinson’s farm and the farms of the other nine state finalists during the week of Aug. 7-11. The judges this year include farmer Thomas Porter, Jr., of Concord, N.C., who was the overall winner in 2011; Charles Snipes, retired Mississippi Extension weed scientist from Greenville, Miss.; and beef cattle rancher Cary Lightsey of Lake Wales, Fla., who was the overall winner in 2009.