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April 15, 2013
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Young People in Ag: Erin Karney received a charolais calf for her 5th birthday, hasn't looked back since

Age: 22

Hometown: Las Animas, Colo.

A fter growing up on a family ranch in southeast Colorado, Karney is pursuing her master’s degree in meat science at Colorado State University.

Last year, she graduated from CSU with a dual bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and animal sciences.

Q: What do you love about agriculture?

A: This is what I know and have known my entire life.

A: If I wasn’t involved in agriculture I am not sure what path I would be going down.

How many other people out there can say that they have the exact same occupation as their great-great grandfather?

From a young age, I have gained so much from agriculture.

At the time it may have not seemed too enjoyable, but it taught me to have a great work ethic and have a sense of responsibility.

What we are producing on our land will eventually go to feed families.

The land that my family currently owns will hopefully be passed on to my kids or grandkids.

Q: What is your background in ag?

A: My family owns a commercial cow/calf and small-farming operation near Las Animas.

I am also the fifth generation to farm and ranch in southeast Colorado on both sides of my family.

But what got sparked my interest is that for my fifth birthday, I asked for a charolais calf, and what was supposed to be sold as a yearling, remained on our place until just last year.

This could be said how I first got my interest in agriculture and more specifically the beef industry.

But it wasn’t until I became involved in FFA that I explored more career opportunities outside of just farming and ranching.

After learning about these, I decided to pursue a degree in animal science at CSU.

I happened to stumble into the meat judging class and you could say from the first day I was hooked! I have found it to be rewarding and complementary to my experience that I had growing up.

Q: What are your future plans in ag?

A: After completing my master’s, I would like to pursue a career educating consumers and promoting agriculture, and more specifically the beef industry.

I have found that it is such a rare and valuable trait to have grown up on a ranch combined with my meat science technical training; I know the entire process and industry very well.

Eventually, I would love to make my way back home to run the family ranch with my three other siblings.

We all have an interest in the ranch and want to continue the legacy that my parents have left.

Q: What are you doing today to pursue those future plans?

A: Every chance I get, I engage in agricultural or livestock events.

I also am very active here on campus, but every free chance I get (which is very rare), I make my way back home to partake in the daily activities of the ranch.

So many times, it is easy to get caught up in our daily activities, but it is so nice to be able to go back to the grassroots and see where the whole cycle begins.

Q: How are your current activities preparing you for that future?

A: I believe that the more people you engage with and learn from the better off you will be.

So many times we forget to learn from past experiences, and I believe that is what is going to help me prepare for my future plans. I have so many people behind me making sure I succeed, just because they believe in what I am doing and what I want to do in the future.

I am also serving as the meat judging coach at CSU, and I can’t think of anything more valuable than traveling around and seeing firsthand the current state of the industry.

Q: What leaves you optimistic about having a future career in agriculture?

A: Looking back and seeing where the agriculture industry was and where we are going is just exciting.

Sure, there are going to be plenty of challenges ahead of us, but I can tell you that students are becoming prepared on the university level, and I am excited to see what our generation will do when they are given the opportunity to lead this industry.

As you know, I have a real passion for agriculture and the people involved in it, I can’t think of anything better than spend the rest of my life trying to better and improve agriculture.

Q: What do you think the agriculture industry will be like in 25 years?

A: Well truth be told, I believe we have a lot of challenges ahead of us and it is going to become more difficult to get things done.

Already, we can see the effects of consumers and legislator alike being 2 to 3 generations removed from agriculture and the detrimental effects that it can have on our policies and practices.

I believe until we can become 100 percent transparent about our practices and are able to proficiently explain why we do the things we do, the problem is going to get worse.

We all know why we do it, but we have to be able to relate to the consumers so they truly believe in what we are doing.

Looking at this, I get excited because this is a topic I am extremely passionate about and would love to see this change. ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Apr 12, 2013 11:45AM Published Jun 3, 2013 09:59AM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.