MADISON, Wis. — National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA) members elected four new leaders to serve on the NJHA board of directors at the 2023 VitaFerm® Junior National Hereford Expo (JNHE). The four newly elected NJHA directors were recognized during an emotional maroon jacket ceremony, July 13, as four NJHA board members retired after fulfilling their terms.
Sam Birdsall, Torrington, Wyo.; Lauren Gatz, Fairview, Kan.; Salem Sifford, Goldvein, Va.; and Harlee Watson, Flemingsburg, Ky., stepped into their roles as newly elected NJHA directors. Two delegates from each state junior Hereford association voted for the young people they felt would best lead the organization. The NJHA board consists of 12 directors, who serve a three-year term to govern the organization of more than 4,000 members.
The 2023-24 officer team includes chairman Tar Tut, Faribault, Minn.; vice chairman Wesley Denton, Blue Rapids, Kan.; communications chair Lauren Jones, Darlington, Wis.; membership chair Logan McFatridge, Otterbein, Ind.; fundraising chair Haley Mouser, Tenstrike, Minn.; and leadership chair Hannah Pearson, Oconto, Neb. Also serving as directors are Kaylee McInvale, Cumby, Texas; and Isaac Rhode, Stewartsville, Mo., and the newly elected four board members.
After giving their retiring addresses, four board members passed on their maroon jackets to the newly elected directors. The retiring board members include: previous chairman JW Cox, Flemingsburg, Ky.; retiring vice chairman Ralston Ripp, Kearney, Neb.; prior communications chair Libby Rushton, Waverly, Tenn.; and previous membership chair Lauren McMillan, Tiskilwa, Ill.
Learn more about the NJHA board of directors below:
Sam Birdsall, Torrington, Wyo., is the 18-year-old son of Dennis and Heather Birdsall. Currently a freshman at Kansas State University, he is majoring in agricultural economics with plans to pursue a career in agricultural financing. As a director, Birdsall will do everything he can to show all the juniors just one example of someone who strives to achieve their dreams and goals. A high-achieving junior member, Birdsall has been involved in the Wyoming Junior Hereford Association for four years and served as the president since 2021. Birdsall plans to use his innovation, drive for improvement and efficiency to achieve goals and be an asset to the future of the breed and the cattle industry.
Wes Denton is the 21-year-old son of John and Angie Denton. Wes will be a senior this fall at Kansas State University (K-State), majoring in animal sciences and industry with an option in production. At K-State, Wes is involved in the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, Block and Bridle Club, Collegiate Cattlemen’s Club and the K-State Purebred Beef Unit. Through Alpha Gamma Rho, he helped found the Alpha Gamma Royal Preview Show and served as chairman for two years. After college, he hopes to work as a cattle buyer, while continuing to grow his herd of Hereford cattle. He is a 14-year member of the Kansas Junior Hereford Association and served on the board for the past five years. Since Wes’ first JNHE 14 years ago, he has admired the NJHA board of directors and looked to them as influential leaders and role models. Wes said, “For as long I can remember, I have had the goal to someday become a NJHA director and strive to be like the leaders who helped shape my experience in the NJHA.” He hopes that as a NJHA director he can have that same impact on other juniors.
Lauren Gatz, Fairview, Kan., is the 20-year-old daughter of Taylor and Jennifer Gatz, and a 13-year member of the Kansas Junior Hereford Association. Currently a junior at Kansas State University, Gatz is majoring in agricultural communications and journalism and hopes to secure a position as a marketing specialist for a livestock breed association. As a director, Gatz is committed to promoting the growth of youth, fostering a sense of community and upholding the legacy of excellence within the NJHA. Gatz has had an active history in the Hereford breed, serving as the Kansas Hereford Princess and Queen and the National Hereford Queen, as well as participating in contests held at the JNHE. She is a two-time winner of the future professionals contest. Gatz will utilize her skillset, servant leadership and willingness to help others to improve and serve the NJHA.
Lauren Jones is the 20-year-old daughter of B.J. and Kim Jones. Lauren will be a junior at Oklahoma State University (OSU) this fall double majoring in animal science and agricultural communications. At OSU, Lauren is a member of Block and Bridle and the Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, where she serves as the first vice president. Her future career goals include continuing to serve the agricultural industry in the future. Lauren has been an active member of the Wisconsin Junior Hereford Association for 13 years, where she has filled numerous leadership roles during that time. Lauren’s goal on the junior board is to share her excitement for the Hereford breed by inspiring others to work together and advocate for agriculture and the beef industry. She is committed to helping younger members recognize their gifts and share those talents with their Hereford family, as well as nurturing their growth into leaders. She strives to serve NJHA members with as much knowledge, integrity and enthusiasm as she can and make the world a better, more inclusive place.
Logan McFatridge is the 20-year-old son of Robert and Kristie McFatridge. Logan will be a junior this fall at Purdue University studying agribusiness. His future goals include finding a career in agricultural sales and marketing, as well as taking over his family’s herd of purebred Hereford cattle. While at Purdue, Logan is involved with the FarmHouse Fraternity and Block and Bridle Club. This summer, Logan is interning at Bayer Crop Science where he is a technology development field assistant, helping with research at the Lafayette Bayer Research Farm. Logan has been an active member of the Indiana Junior Hereford Association, JNHE attendee and NJHA contest participant since 2010. He has held a leadership position in his state organization for four years, and has been honored at the JNHE with first-place finishes in the Hereford bowl and sales competitions, as well as placing top three in judging. Logan plans to use his leadership skills from other organizations to help him on his maroon coat journey and to inspire younger members to strive to wear the maroon jacket. Logan plans to be a part of the Hereford and cattle industry for a long time and hopes to give back and support the organization in any way possible.
Kaylee McInvale is the 21-year-old daughter of Hoyt and Crystal McInvale. Kaylee will be completing her final semester at Tarleton State University this fall majoring in animal science and minoring in agricultural economics. Kaylee’s future goal is to pursue a master’s degree with an emphasis in animal nutrition or reproductive health. She is very active on Tarleton’s campus as part of the Block and Bridle club. Kaylee will be serving as the senior residential leader and is also very active in Sigma Alpha, where she serves as the scholarship chair and committee head. Kaylee has been raising and showing cattle all her life and has been a part of several breed associations. She currently serves as the youth activities intern for the American Shorthorn Association. She is active in her state association where she has been a part of the Texas Junior Horned and Polled Associations for the last 10 years and served as the 2020-2021 National Hereford Queen. She had been inspired by previous leaders in the maroon coat, and hopes in her time on the NJHA board, she can inspire those around her to follow their dreams both on and off the NJHA board.
Haley Mouser is the 19-year-old daughter of Gib and Michelle Mouser. In May she completed her freshman year at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan., as an agribusiness major and livestock judging team member. She is excited to return this fall to continue judging and finish her associate’s degree. Her goal is to eventually achieve a doctoral degree focusing on ruminant nutrition and genetics, while continuing to use her passion for public speaking. Prior to attending Butler, Haley was an active member of 4-H, FFA, the Minnesota Junior Hereford Association and NJHA. Some highlights from her NJHA involvement include being selected as the 2021 Fed Steer Shootout Senior of the Year, placing first in the 2021 JNHE future professionals contest, attending the inaugural Building on Leadership Development (BOLD) conference and serving on the Minnesota leadership team. Haley’s goal since attending her first JNHE, was to one day wear a maroon jacket, and she was honored to receive one last year. Her focus continues to be on serving juniors and paying forward all that was given to her during her time as a junior in the NJHA.
Hannah Pearson is the 22-year-old daughter of Wade and Michelle Pearson. Hannah will be graduating from Texas Tech University (TTU) with a bachelor’s of science in agricultural communications with a minor in animal science in August. While at TTU, Hannah is active on the meat and livestock judging teams, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and Tech Cattlewomen. She has been an active member of the Nebraska Junior Hereford Association for the last 16 years and served on the Nebraska Junior Hereford board in numerous positions and as the 2019 Nebraska State Hereford Queen. Hannah’s excitement for the beef industry has grown through the national and Nebraska Junior Hereford Associations. She loves to share this enthusiasm with all junior members.
Isaac Rhode is the 20-year-old son of Jeff and Susan Rhode. Isaac will be a junior in the fall at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) majoring in agriculture with an emphasis in animal science, ag business and ag leadership. At Mizzou, Isaac is involved in the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, Block and Bridle Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau and National-Agri Marketing Association. He has also been involved in leadership roles in the Missouri Junior Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Junior Angus Association, and he has been recognized for his involvement in FFA on the state and national level. Isaac served as a director for the Missouri Junior Hereford Association, including terms as president and secretary. This summer, he is serving as an intern for Show-Me Ethanol where he is gaining valuable experience in the agriculture byproducts sector. His career plans are to work in a sales or service role with livestock producers and to continue raising Hereford cattle with his family. Isaac has exhibited at 12 JNHEs. That involvement inspired his passion for the Hereford breed and the NJHA. His goal as an NJHA director is to make an impact on other people’s lives to help them achieve their goals and dreams. His motto for life is to, “Adapt to change in any situation.”
Salem Sifford, Goldvein, Va., is the 19-year-old daughter of Stephen and Rosemary Sifford. She is a five-year member of the Virginia Junior Hereford Association and previous seven-year member of the North Carolina Junior Hereford Association. A sophomore at Virginia Tech, she is a dairy science major with a dual emphasis on agricultural economics and career goals of working in the agricultural credit and finance sector, while maintaining her family’s operations. Sifford hopes to serve as another voice for all states and all juniors. Her goal is to bring joy to each junior and their family involved in the Association. Sifford has been the Virginia outstanding state junior member, NJHA Hereford Highlight and BOLD Leadership Conference attendee. She plans to use her enthusiasm for Hereford cattle, interest in helping others and leadership qualities to support the team.
Tar Tut is the 21-year-old son of Pock and Nyamark Tut. Tar is a recent graduate of Texas A&M University, where he majored in agricultural communications and journalism, with an emphasis in sales and marketing. Prior to attending Texas A&M, he was at Butler Community College where he graduated with an associates degree in animal science and was part of the highly competitive livestock judging team, that was named the 2020-2021 Team of the Year. At Texas A&M, he was a member of the 2022 reserve national champion livestock judging team and named one of ten to the collegiate coaches All-American Team, Saddle & Sirloin Club and is an assistant coach for the Coryell County 4-H Livestock Judging Team. As a six-year member of the Minnesota Junior Hereford Association, he strives to be someone the youth of his state can look up to, encouraging them to be leaders for the next generation. Tar is humbled to serve an association as great as the NJHA, and makes it his goal to be a leader of integrity, so that the values and traditions of the Hereford breed can be instilled into the hard working juniors of the future. Tar encourages Hereford juniors and exhibitors to have proud days, not perfect days.
Harlee Watson, Flemingsburg, Ky., is the 18-year-old daughter of Matt and Melinda Watson and an 11-year member of the Kentucky Junior Hereford Association (KJHA). She will be a senior at Fleming County High School and plans to attend Butler Community College to continue her education after high school, with long term goals of attending funeral director school and owning her own funeral home. Watson wants to make a difference, and be a mentor, friend or someone for NJHA members to look up to. She hopes to make a positive impact on the NJHA and the Hereford breed. She has served on the KJHA board of directors and the Kentucky Junior Cattlemen’s Association.
The National Junior Hereford Association is one of the most active junior programs in the country with more than 4,000 members. The NJHA’s mission is to create and promote enthusiasm for the breed while providing opportunities through leadership, education and teamwork. For more information about the NJHA, visit www.jrhereford.org. For press releases and photos, visit Hereford.org/media.