In contrast to other college freshmen, Oregon State University agricultural business management major Gabriella DeSimone has her eyes on a different kind of animal house.
DeSimone, a 2012 valedictorian from Crater School of Business, has been named the 2013 Oregon Beef Ambassador, a youth spokeswoman for the American National CattleWomen.
To earn the title, DeSimone fielded a battery of questions, responded to a controversial article, and created a DVD presentation on the beef industry.
"The main idea is to show people what goes on from pasture to plate," DeSimone said, summarizing her presentation. "It's something we're going to have to work at because ranchers don't have time to go to inner-city schools and talk."
Educating the next generation of eaters about the beef industry is a big part of DeSimone's summer plans. She's also planning beef-promotion events and intends to create a wooden or plastic diagram of a cattle with sticky notes covering meat-cut names.
"I think it'd be really fun to tell people about where specific cuts of beef come from," she said. "That's something fairly useful for cooking."
DeSimone discovered the CattleWomen program through a friend, Katie Stroud, who served as a California ambassador, and through St. Mary's School senior Jacquelyn Brown, the 2012 Oregon Beef Ambassador. Both served as National Beef Ambassadors and gained experiences that are rare for those just out of high school.
"They've gotten to travel a ton," DeSimone said. "I always thought that was really neat that they got so many great experiences."
DeSimone will run in September for the National Beef Ambassador team, which represents the beef industry through classroom events, promotions and the Internet.
She carries a passion for ranching that runs generations deep in her family. Her great-grandfather founded a cattle ranch that her grandfather runs today, and she has lots of stories about staying up late delivering calves and rising early to feed cattle.
"Seeing that whole circle makes you so excited to go feed cows," she said. "It's definitely something I feel a passion for."
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