Local teen vying for scholarship

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If all goes well, one of Mower County’s young representatives could be Minnesota’s 2011 Pork Ambassador.


Lee Kloeckner, 19, of Adams, is one of 17 pork ambassadors from 14 counties in the state vying for the designation, along with a $1,500 scholarship. The pork ambassador program is part of Minnesota’s 2011 Farmfest in Morgan, Minn. Second place will receive $750, and third will receive $500. The state ambassador will be awarded Wednesday, Aug. 3.

To become the top pork ambassador, each county ambassador must pass an interview, give a presentation and write an essay about a topic affecting the pork industry. And by growing up on a hog farm his whole life, Kloeckner knows a few things about the pork industry. He and his family have roughly 1,400 head of hogs, 50 head of beef cattle and 180 acres of crops. Kloeckner will address food safety and some new issues pertaining to it.

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“The major thing affecting food safety is the negative publicity about it,” Kloeckner said.

He added there are misconceptions people have about farmers’ uses of antibiotics in livestock.

If Kloeckner becomes the state ambassador, he could put the scholarship to good use as he’s going to be a freshman at the University of Minnesota with a tentative pre-vet major. He someday hopes to be a large animal veterinarian.

“The best thing about the pork ambassador for me is attending all the events, meeting new people,” Kloeckner said.

By attending events, he can not only network with other future ag professionals, he can learn from them, too.

The Pork Ambassador program, funded through the Pork Checkoff and sponsored by the Minnesota Pork Board, strives to develop young pork industry and agricultural leaders. The candidates are first selected by their respective county pork association to serve as local pork ambassadors. During their term as county ambassadors, the Minnesota Pork Board provides participants opportunities to improve their leadership and communication skills and programs to expand their agricultural knowledge.