By: Michelle Semler
On Tuesday June 5th and Wednesday June 6th all eight Peer Mentors had the opportunity to load up in a 15 passenger van with Kyla and head east to the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. We had a full schedule of events as we loaded the van Monday evening and were unsure of what we had planned for use for the next few days.
Tuesday we were placed in a conference room for internship and ambassador training. Throughout the day we were exposed to a better understanding of the National Pork Producers Council and the Checkoff with the National Pork Board. While a majority of the time was spent listening to numerous speakers, we also had the opportunity to interact with young adults representing their home state organizations. Many states I expected to meet other interns and ambassadors from such as Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota, and a majority of states within the Midwest. But I was surprised to learn that California also had an intern.
Being a native of Eastern Iowa and only spreading my wings to Nebraska last August it’s easy to become caught up in the belief that hog production only occurs within these few states. I enjoyed getting to chat with other students and learn how production and agriculture differed within their home states. The day ended with all of us receiving certification through the PQA training, before heading out to dinner and bowling where once again we were giving the opportunity to get to know other students even better.
Wednesday all of our dreams finally came true….we made it to the World Pork Expo!! The morning started with us helping with the Youth PQA training where the ages ranged from those barely able to write their names upwards to middle school students. We were divided up into three stations; vaccinations, ear notching, and reading of prescriptions. I had the pleasure of helping kids with reading of prescription bottles were I enjoyed listening to all the stories every child just had to tell. It’s always exciting to see how interested and already dedicated the next generations of hog producers are about the industry. The future is bright!
After Youth PQA training was complete we were set free to explore. There were numerous events occurring at the expo from a youth hog show, a trade show, hospitality tents where the amount of free pork meals was abundant, and much more. Having graduated from Iowa State in May of 2011 I was excited to see how many former ISU students had begun their careers within the hog industry ranging from working with NOVUS, ADM, Iowa Pork Producers, and other companies and organizations. I enjoyed catching up with old friends and learn about the new adventures they had begun in their life.
It’s hard to sum up in a few short sentences all that occurred at the World Pork Expo, the number of activities we participated in, and list the numerous individuals we were able to meet. But I know for sure I will be returning in the future!