Beef Bruschetta with Roasted Garlic-Feta Spread

Two Decades of Developing Leaders in Beef: The Nebraska Youth Beef Leadership Symposium

Madison Doeschot - Nebraska Beef Council | September 6, 2023

For almost two decades, the Nebraska Youth Beef Leadership Symposium (NYBLS) has been molding young minds and fostering a deeper understanding of the beef industry. The program has evolved significantly since its inception in 2004, and is held annually at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus.

NYBLS is open to 10th through 12th graders and any student with an interest in the beef industry. Over the years, the program has transformed from focusing solely on production-oriented lessons to incorporating leadership development, consumer engagement, and career opportunities within the beef industry. 

Alli Raymond, Admissions Coordinator for the UNL Animal Science Department, has been a coordinator of the program for 13 years. Dr. Bryan Reilling has been involved for 7 years, and many other volunteers help make up their committee. 

Dr. Reilling said of the program's transformation, "Over the last 10 years, it's become more focused on both the product and consumers of that product, while also enhancing leadership components for our youth." 

Each year, applicants are required to answer a unique essay question related to the beef industry; this year's question pertains to the utilization of beef checkoff dollars. A large part of the program focuses on creating a unique beef-based meal, and can accommodate three groups of five students each working in the facilities kitchen at one time, allowing for a total of 45 students to attend. 

 "The program is a real honor to be involved with. Everyone who's been here has been passionate about the beef industry," affirms Ali Raymond. 

This year's event is centered on consumer engagement and strengths, with rotating themes each year to ensure returning students experience something new. Some students return multiple times, allowing for up to three years of participation. There are plans to create a cookbook to preserve the delicious recipes developed during the program starting this year. 

"The program has three primary learning objectives: helping students understand themselves as leaders, teaching them how to collaborate effectively with others, and fostering a deeper appreciation for the beef industry and its consumers," said Dr. Reilling. 

NYBLS has been significantly supported by the Nebraska Beef Council over the years, playing a vital role in enhancing recruitment and knowledge among students. Students come from across Nebraska, and sometimes other states. Up to 10 students come from Kentucky as the Kentucky Beef Council partners with the program also. 

Mitch Rippe and Adam Wegner from the Nebraska Beef Council attend a session each year to explain how the beef checkoff program functions and contributes to funding part of NYBLS. 

Applications for this year's NYBLS close on October 1st, with the program scheduled to run from November 17th to 19th. More information and the application for this year's symposium can be found at


The Nebraska Beef Council is a non-profit organization served by a nine-member board of directors. The volunteers oversee the beef checkoff in Nebraska and checkoff-funded programs. Programs for marketing and promotion are funded by the $1/head beef checkoff.