IL Livestock Leadership Institute Cultivates Youth in Agriculture


IL Livestock Leadership Institute Cultivates Youth in Agriculture

Together, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) and Illinois Beef Association (IBA), hosted the inaugural Illinois Livestock Leadership Institute (ILLI) this June to cultivate youth who are interested in the respective industries, or beyond.


Formerly know as the Illinois Pork Leadership Institute, ILLI is open to students ages 16-22, who are interested in agriculture. A total of 25 applicants were accepted for the learning experience, based on an application and essay. The 2019 attendees from their respective counties were:


Andrew McGath, Morgan

Ashlyn Mool, McLean

Bethany Brinkman, Monroe

Brett Buhrow, Lee

Carsen Curry, Henry

Cooper Secker , St Clair

Danielle Hagemann, Ogle

DJ Cain , Knox

Elizabeth Markley, Fulton

Gabby McDermott, Ford

Grace Arnold, DeWitt

Grace Meyer, Henderson

Gracie Scheets, McLean

Hallie Laning, Brown

Jennifer Davis, Menard

Jordan Tammen, Iroquois

Kathleen Smith, Bureau

Keegan Cassady, McLean


Lathan Dierks, Jackson

Lori Jackson, Morgan

Luke Bergschneider, Morgan

Nicole Moest, Stephenson

Ryan Brinkman, Monroe

Seth Mitchell, Richland

Zachary Perkins, Kendall


This 4-day trip took place June 19-22 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Each year the location changes to allow new scenery and tours.


“The ILLI trip was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience so many different avenues of the agriculture industry in just four short days,” shared Cooper Secker, IPPA intern. “I hope it impacted those that attended as much as it impacted me.”


Day one of ILLI began with tours in Illinois on the drive to Wisconsin. The first stop was Larson Farms in Maple Park where students learned about custom feeding cattle and the process of scanning a beef animal for loin eye area and backfat. The second stop was Heuber Feed Mill in Creston where they toured the feed mill and learned from staff about the different products they blend for various species.  


The second day included a stop at MorganMyers in Waukesa, WI learning about agriculture communications through the eyes of an agency and exposing the many digital job opportunities within the industry. ABS Global, a bovine genetics company, was the next stop North of Madison. Students enjoyed seeing legendary bull studs, watching a collection and learning the process of sexed semen in their lab. Near Madison was Statz Bros, a dairy farm that is home to over 8,000 head of Holstein cattle and a milk processing barn. Technology was the main take-home from this visit. That evening Kylee Deniz, National Pork Board, presented a hands-on media training encouraging them to be advocates for the industry.


Day three began at UW Provision Company in Madison, where they source meat from the surrounding states and distribute to clients and have a grocery store front for locals. Just across town at the University of Wisconsin Madison, Jeffery Sindelar gave the group an exclusive tour of the brand-new meat science processing lab that is in progress.


The final day of ILLI took place back in Illinois on the drive home. Perks Ranch graciously hosted the group at their farm near Rockford. They raise elite Hereford cattle for both production and the show circuit. To round out the trip, Dr. Wesley Lyons of Pipestone Veterinary Services conducted a swine vet lab with the students at a wean-finish pig barn. The interaction at both farms capped off a successful trip.


“The Illinois Livestock Leadership Institute provided me with a broad scope of career opportunities offered by the agriculture industry,” said Keegan Cassady, IBA intern.

“We were able to see careers from farm to fork and every step in between.”


Throughout these four days the attendees gained a new network of peers, professional connections, were exposed to endless jobs in the livestock sector and became more knowledgeable of the industry. There are no doubts that these students will excel in their future endeavors.



The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) represents more than 1,600 pork producers throughout Illinois and the Illinois pork industry, which contributes more than $1.8 billion and more than 10,500 jobs to the state’s economy. IPPA is comprised of county pork producer groups in approximately 20 counties throughout Illinois. IPPA is an affiliate of the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board.