A love for the cattle industry leads Elm Springs, Ark., woman to a career path
Lauren Cheevers, of Elm Springs, Ark., joined 4-H at age 5 and since she loved to talk, she quickly found interest in public speaking.
Very early on she was giving demonstration speeches and eventually became the Arkansas 4-H Ozark District Vice President during her senior year of high school in Greenland. Ark.
Her livestock passion grew from strong roots because her father Stacy, who works as a plant manager at Beaver Water District, raises commercial beef cattle while her mother Joyce runs six broiler houses. Even though the 300 Angus-influenced momma herd is bred by a variety of purebred bulls, Lauren showed both registered and commercial cattle when younger and was highly involved with the agricultural industry. She was also a rodeo queen who loved teaching the heritage of rodeo in addition to explaining how to compete in rodeo events, with children being her favorite audience.
“Children are the future of agriculture. The age of the average farmer is increasing, and we need more young people to add to the ever-increasing industry knowledge base with their willingness to think outside of the box,” Lauren said.
Then during college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Lauren Cheevers participated in a mock interview where the interviewer probed, “You are a woman, so what makes you think these producers want to listen to you?”
Lauren’s response was immediate. She explained that she was fortunate enough to be born and raised on a farm and could easily relate with producers concerning the varied aspects of the agriculture industry including emerging science and technology, practices and procedures and the need for advocacy in agriculture.
Lauren found a perfect position that combined her interests when she began an internship at the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association headquarters in Little Rock after meeting up with Adam McClung, the then executive vice president the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association. Adam had known her since she was a young girl and had watched her grow up. When they met again during that year’s national convention in Nashville, he understood she wanted to be in the cattle industry, recognized her potential and “got the ball rolling.”
Lauren became communication director for the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association as an active advocate immediately after her internship. Lauren’s outgoing leadership style is paired with passions for children, communication and livestock. Her responsibilities with the ACA include weekly management and updates to their website which she redesigned to be user-friendly in the first three weeks of her internship. She also is the association’s social media voice. In addition, she develops promotional material such as banners, brochures and the ever-popular wild rags or bandannas while also building ads for the association.
At various cattle sales, she gathers pictures for agricultural publications, including the Arkansas Cattle Business magazine published by the ACA. She recently completed a long-term project for the Arkansas Agriculture Department, the publication of its annual Arkansas Grown magazine. The project included writing, photographing and developing the layout of 25 different features, including row crops and forestry, areas she was not as familiar with. Through this project, she was able to expand her own knowledge base while also helping farmers and ranchers statewide share their story.
Though Lauren graduated from college in only three years in 2017, she has developed a strong belief that agriculture can match varied combinations of individual passions and leadership styles. In her own experience she cites the fact that she took ag microeconomics and soil science, both of which she acknowledges are highly practical and important but not part of her strongest skillsets.
However, she did describe how two of her passions came together into a career path, thanks to the help of two of her college mentors: Dr. Janeal Yancey and Casandra Cox. Dr. Yancey specializes in animal sciences and developed an informational blog called Mom at the Meat Counter, which helps educate consumers about food safety from the perspective of a mother of two and a meat scientist. Casandra, whose position is in agricultural education, communications and technology, taught her to take pictures from different angles, use editing software for maximum quality and then how to use those pictures for advocacy.
“Not all leaders are outspoken like me. They can be relationship oriented or factual experts thereby using different channels to connect with the part of the agricultural community that speaks to their hearts,” Lauren said. “Gender doesn’t matter either because we all have stories to tell. The trick is to let your voice be heard in whatever part of agriculture speaks to you, because people love and respond to stories.”