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Recognizing the next generation

Who are the up-and-coming pork professionals that are 'crushing it' in your organization?

Next week will mark my two-year anniversary with National Hog Farmer. The last 24 months have gone by in a flash, but I've enjoyed every minute of it. Coming from a broad background in agriculture and livestock marketing and communications, it has been nice to drill down and focus on one commodity. I have learned so much and have appreciated the opportunity to visit with many of you, both in-person and virtually.

But I know I still have big shoes to fill (that happens when your magazine has a 50-plus year history of covering U.S. hog production and legends like Dale Miller, Joe Vansickle, Bill Fleming and Neal Black used to work here). There are also many more stories to tell and people to meet.

Speaking of people to meet, did you get a chance to read our rising star features this week online or in the August issue of NHF? Aren't these up-and-coming swine industry members remarkable? This was our second year to put out a call for nominations for our "Rising Stars in the Swine Industry" issue and you answered in a big way. We received more than 30 nominations, making our job quite difficult, but in a good way. It was a bright spot, in a year of pandemic reporting, to read through these student achievements, ambitions and contributions thus far to an "essential business."

While you may be making a mental note of students to nominate next year, I want to make you aware of another monthly feature in NHF: Swine's Promising Next Generation. In this one-page profile, we feature individuals who are already in the swine business. These are the 30-and-under pork producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, managers, technicians, geneticists, engineers, etc., who are already making quite the impression in their early careers.

Matt Patterson, Brandi Burton, Phil Hord, Lukas Fricke and Melissa Boess are just a handful of the young industry professionals we have featured since we kicked off the campaign in April 2019. Each "next generation" candidate was a delight to talk to, as you could hear during each interview the dedication and commitment to not only his or her job, but to the overall industry.

So, who do we need to talk to? Who is starting off on the right foot in your organization or business? Who does the swine industry need to get to know better?

Early in the pandemic, I remember visiting with South Dakota State University professor and Extension swine specialist, Bob Thaler, who commented to me that in this business it's not just the pigs, it's the people. That has stuck with me through these summer months. We can write about pigs until we are blue in the face; it's the people that make this industry what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.

If you have a next generation candidate you think we need to feature in NHF, please send his/her name and contact information to me at Please also include why you think this pork professional is exceptional and why the industry needs to get to know this industry member better. I look forward to hearing from you!

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