Magazine Feature / People

Agricultural upbringing cultivates leadership in business student

As international business major Cassidy Woodard navigated through her first-year of college, “The Big Texas Shindig 2” undoubtedly cropped up in her mind from time to time.

Out of context, “The Big Texas Shindig 2” sounds a bit like a horror movie that may or may not involve chainsaws, but it was actually the name of this year’s National Junior Limousin Show and Congress, which took place in July in Amarillo, Texas.

And as a member of the board of directors for the North American Limousin Junior Association (NALJA), Woodard, now a sophomore, helped arrange the annual event for the organization’s more than 3,000 members.

As a girl who grew up on a ranch and then moved to Denver, it also has been Woodard’s job, albeit unofficial, to explain to city folks that limousin is the name of a unique breed of cattle, valued for their tender, lean meat and distinguishable by their all-black or all-red coloring.

“While I’m living here in the city, I want to stand up and be a good ambassador for the beef industry and let our consumers know that we care about them,” says Woodard.

Woodard’s family runs 50 head of cattle on their 360-acre ranch in Calhan, Colo. Her parents met showing cattle, and Woodard has been a contender in the ring for almost 10 years.

Each year, Woodard shows one of her limousins at the National Western Stock Show and helps with the “Genetics on Ice” fundraiser, where frozen embryos and semen packages from limousine cattle with good breeding are auctioned off to raise money for NALJA.

“It’s one of my real, true passions in life,” says Woodard. “I just love being out in the show ring and working with the cattle and everything that goes with it, all the people, everything.”

“Her volunteer work with the national limousin association has really stimulated her leadership,” says Paul Kosempel, the assistant director of the Pioneer Leadership Living and Learning Community, which Woodard participates in.

And cultivating young leaders like Woodard has become increasingly important to the cattle industry, where the average age of producers is 60.

“She’s someone you want your young kids to be around and look up to,” says Bret Begert, NALJA’s adviser. “She’s a hands-on leader. She walks the walk — she doesn’t just talk the talk — because she truly believes in our product.”

After graduating from DU, Woodard hopes to pursue an environmental or agricultural law degree so she can apply her education in a rural setting.

But she’ll need a few years to decide whether she wants to leave behind the city lights and return to small town life.

“I love getting to experience the city life as well as being out in the country,” says Woodard. So for now, she’ll just continue enjoying the best of both worlds.

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