News: Mo Beef Leadership Academy Announced

Eleven Missouri FFA and 4-H members selected to “beef” up school lunches throughout 2022 and 2023. Their mission – to bridge the gap between pasture to plate in their schools and communities. 

The Academy is led by four returning members, serving as mentors for the new cohort: 

  • Kelsey Miller – Warrenton
  • Georgia Ehrhardt – Russellville
  • Lanie Milliken – Lebanon
  • Charlie Hazelrigg – Columbia

Seven new members will begin spreading the message of beef as the school year kicks off. 

  • Clara Wallace – Vandalia
  • Maggie Stark – Adrian
  • Cali Hillsman – El Dorado Springs
  • Hannah Miller – Clinton
  • Jack Norfleet – Mexico 
  • Tysen Wilson – Anabel 
  • Kennedy Heil – Norborne

Mo Beef Kids (MBK) works with farmers and ranchers to get more beef on the school lunch tray more often. School administration and foodservice partner with area processors and cattle farmers to “beef up” lunches and offer classroom education to share the story of beef from pasture to plate. The leadership academy serves as an extension of the program.

Mount Vernon was the first school to kickoff Mo Beef Kids efforts in 2017. Since program inception, the effort has grown to over 50 schools, with an additional 50 schools in queue to begin the program in the coming year. 

When working toward the mission of beef in schools, Academy members, area leaders and businesses come together to underscore the importance of farm families and agriculture’s impact on the community. 

“We are grateful to our Academy members for working alongside local champions and beef donors to beef up school lunches,” said MBK Program Director Luella Gregory. “The success of the program is a direct result of community support and passionate partners, including our Academy members. With teamwork, we are providing more beef, more often both in the lunch room and the classroom through increased beef meals and education.”  

“We want to ensure our young people understand early on why beef is important and the nutritional value it offers to ensure they are lifelong beef consumers,” Gregory added. 

Schools who participate in the program receive a poster of the farm family donor, which hangs on the cafeteria wall to make the connection to beef on their tray. 

To learn more about MBK or the Leadership Academy, visit

Front L to R: Mentor Kelsey Miller, Warrenton; Mentor Georgia Ehrhardt, Russellville; Mentor Lanie Milliken, Lebanon; Clara Wallace, Vandalia; Maggie Stark, Adrian; Cali Hillsman, El Dorado Springs. Back L to R: Hannah Miller, Clinton; Jack Norfleet, Mexico; Tysen Wilson, Anabel; Kennedy Heil, Norborne; Mentor Charlie Hazelrigg, Columbia.
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