Meet the Future Monday: TCYA Ambassador, Jana Owen of Lincoln County
This week’s Meet the Future Monday features one of the 2019 Tennessee Cattlemen’s Youth Ambassadors. Jana Owen of Lincoln County, Tennessee is one of the three Tennessee Cattlemen's Youth Ambassadors this year. Read Jana’s answers to this Q&A to get to know your TCYA Ambassadors more!
Q: Describe your operation
A: On our family farm, we raise and show registered Shorthorn cattle and Boer goats. Our family farm is located in Taft and Ardmore, Tennessee, and Elkmont, Alabama. My family purchased my great-grandparents’ farm in Taft in 2005. We have small cow herd that’s primary focus is to produce show heifers and steers.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?
A: As a 4th generation cattle farmer, it was natural for me to love growing up on the farm. From milking my Pawpaw’s dairy cows by hand a few times to showing in pee-wee showmanship at the county fair, I have always loved cattle. I always enjoy checking the cows during calving season each Fall. I love getting to see my old show heifers calve and see if it’s a bull or heifer. Walking up to newborns when they are just a few hours old is always so precious! I enjoy watching my calves grow into successful show heifers and momma cows.
Q: Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?
A: My dad, Dan Owen, has had the biggest influence on me and my passion for agriculture. He grew up on a dairy farm where they milked about 60 cows. He showed dairy cattle through 4-H and FFA. When he got older, he purchased a couple of Shorthorn heifers and started our farm. He has always encouraged me in everything I participate in with 4-H and FFA. He is the best teacher because he has taught me almost everything I know about livestock. He is a successful and amazing coach to all the judging teams I have been on. He works very hard in our Lincoln County 4-H program to help youth grow and succeed. He has spread his love for agriculture to me, and I appreciate that a lot.
Q: What are you most passionate about in your business?
A: I think it’s very important to strongly educate the public about our beef industry. Many people and organizations are misinforming the public about how we raise livestock and the “unhealthiness” of meat. They have convinced thousands of people to become vegetarian or vegan and losing consumers hurts the agriculture industry. Agriculturists’ voices need to be louder. Consumers need to learn directly from agriculturalists about how meat actually gets on their table and the important source of protein it provides that is vital in a healthy diet. One way that I help to educate the public is by being involved in not only 4-H and FFA, but also cattle youth organizations such as the Tennessee Junior Shorthorn Association and the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Youth Association.
Q: What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?
A: One of the biggest problems I face is time management. With being very involved in church, school work and activities, 4-H and FFA, and as a Tennessee Cattlemen’s Youth Ambassador it is hard to find time to take care of my animals. In my small amount of free time, I’m most likely washing, leading, feeding, or driving the tractor.
Q: Where do you see yourself and your operation in 10 years?
A: In 10 years, I will be 26, so I will be out of college (hopefully graduating from University of Tennessee at Knoxville) and possibly pursuing a career path in the livestock industry. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do just yet, but I do know I have a strong passion for agriculture and would love to carry that into my future. No matter what I choose as my career, I still do want my family to own a herd of cattle. I want my kids to show Shorthorn cattle, so they can gain the same experiences, skills, friendships, and lessons as I did growing up.
Q: How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?
A: I will grow our operation by continuing to learn more about genetics and EPDs to select the best cows and bulls to produce calves that will be the most performing in the show ring, on the farm, or on the plate. I will also further develop my knowledge on the healthcare of my animals, so they can be as healthy as possible.
Q: How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?
A: I will make my mark by educating the public more about the quality of beef. I can do my best on informing them about the importance of having beef in their diet. I also have two and a half more years of showing, judging, and raising cattle that I can do to better our beef industry. With my experience and passion, I know I can represent Tennessee’s beef industry well, especially during my time as a youth ambassador.
Q: What could the existing farmers do most to help future farmers such as yourself?
A: The Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association does a tremendous job of supporting young 4-H and FFA members. They support the State Livestock Quiz Bowl Contest, so students learn about breeds, feeds, meats, healthcare, and nutrition of livestock. They sponsor our Beef Expo every year and provide money for winning exhibitors. They also have the Heifer Initiative Scholarship where youth can apply to receive money to purchase a heifer to show. This scholarship encourages youth to be more involved in the beef industry. Farmers across the state of Tennessee can do their part in aiding the future of agriculture by supporting opportunities like these, 4-H, and FFA. By supporting 4-H and FFA, you can help keep youth involved in the agriculture industry.
Q: What is your favorite beef dish?
A: From beef jerky to hamburgers to steaks, I love all things beef, but one of my favorites would definitely have to be a fresh hamburger from our farm grilled by my dad. Now, if we are going to a steakhouse, you will probably find me having a good New York strip with a loaded baked potato on the side. Yum!