Some people are born leaders, regardless of if they seek a position of leadership or not. But as a young girl from rural Iowa, Lindsey Broek wasn’t even aware of the possibilities that existed for her.
Although she grew up on her family’s small Charolais operation and was involved in 4-H, she admits that softball was her first love, so cattle shows were pushed aside during high school when her passion found her at the ball diamond. However, after high school, she attended South Dakota State University and majored in Agricultural Journalism with a minor in Animal Science. That’s when she was drawn back into the beef industry.
She spent time working at Krebs Ranch, LaGrand and Sullivan Farms while in college, and ultimately worked at Sullivan Supply. Then, she landed a job at the American Maine-Anjou Association (AMAA). That was nearly 13 years ago.
Wearing Many Hats
Broek was first hired as the Editor and Director of Communications at AMAA. She saw several junior activities directors come and go over a short time span, and with each turnover, helped train the new recruit. Finally, she said she would like to take up that role as well.
“I don’t know that I ever saw myself as a junior advisor or in leadership, but as I got a little older that’s where I ended up. So now I wear that hat and an editor hat. I have a lot of hats,” Broek said.
That was five years ago, and within those short years, she has been able to help the junior Maine-Anjou association double its membership and grow the size of its Junior Board. Due to the interest from youth who wanted to run for the AJMAA Board, she said they increased the number of positions from eight to 11, allowing for more opportunities.
A Big World
Even though Broek is a fan of the beef industry, and rightfully so, her greater drive is to teach the young people involved that though they might not return to production ag, there is still a place for them in the agricultural industry. That is what leadership conferences like the AJMAA’s National Youth Leadership Conference, (NYLC) provide.
“For me, I grew up in rural Iowa, and I went to a private Christian School, but we didn’t have FFA. We had 4-H and I was involved, but I was never really involved. I never really knew there was NYLC, our national leadership conference or any of them. I think that it is so important for those kids to know that there are those events out there. And you can take it even further than animal agriculture,” she said.
She said that it is important that leadership events introduce young people to the diverse opportunities that are available in agriculture ranging from food science to poultry science and even aquaculture. Education, reproductive technologies and marketing opportunities will all be a part of the next NYLC, March 31–April 3, the first time the AJMAA has hosted it since COVID hit.
Broek said the young attendees will have the opportunity to tour TransOva, learn about a farm-to-table meat marketing business and tour the American Royal and learn about its initiative to educate urban students through Ag in the Classroom, along with other leadership takeaways.
“My biggest thing is that it is a big world out there, and there are a lot of hats you can fall under. It doesn’t have to be A, B or C, you can be D, E and F too,” Broek encourages.
Breaking Out of the Shell
Finally, Broek reminds young and experienced alike that leadership and networking go hand-in-hand. The two must work together for a person to be successful.
“Leadership falls into a category of how to network and get outside of your own little bubble. You can be a really hard worker, but you are going to have to communicate, too,” she said.
She encourages young people to put down their phones and have a conversation that doesn’t involve a text. She said it is important to be able to have those face-to-face interactions, especially with college advisors, other teachers and potential employers.
Broek also said it is a good idea to get involved.
“You don’t have to be on a National Junior Board. Run for your state’s junior board or on your 4-H board. Get the experience.
”Communication, networking and the passion to help others are the leadership traits that Broek uses to lead by example. The AJMAA members are a fortunate group to have a servant leader with a caring heart to show them the bigger world.