Farm Journal Media’s “40 Under 40” awards program aims to recognize young leaders, under the age of 40, from across agriculture. Typically, several of each year’s honorees work in the beef industry, and we’ve had the pleasure of recognizing those who attend the Cattle Industry Convention during the annual “Best of Beef” awards breakfast.

At this year’s convention, farm broadcaster Russell Nemetz, who served as MC for the program, introduced five of our 40 Under 40 honorees.

·         Joe Kovanda, vice president for Bartlett Cattle Company, Kansas City, has earned a reputation for his market expertise. Kovenda grew up on his family’s southern Montana family farm and earned degrees from Colorado State University and Kansas State University. He began his career at Bartlett in cattle procurement/risk management, then spent time with JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding LLC, before returning to Bartlett in his current position. 

·         Larry Keenan, of Sulphur, Okla., serves as director of breed improvement for the Red Angus Association of America. Keenan grew up on a cow-calf operation in Oklahoma and earned his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and his master’s at Oklahoma State University. Following school, he took employment with RAAA where he’s been for the last nine years.

·         Jaclyn Wilson is the founder of Flying Diamond Genetics, Lakeside, Nebraska. She grew up on her family’s ranch in the Nebraska Sand Hills and attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Following graduation, she returned to the family operation, and eventually launched Flying Diamond Genetics, a recipient and heifer development program, in 2012.

·         Patrick Bray serves as executive vice president of the Arizona Cattle Grower’s Association. He was born and raised on the family farm, FST Farms, near Tolleson, Arizona, where he still raises beef. Throughout his childhood his family raised sheep and his mother was Executive Director of the Arizona Wool Growers. He received his B.S. degree in Agriculture Resources and Economics from the University of Arizona, and joined ACGA as Deputy Director of Government Affairs in 2007.

·         As director of cattle operations for 44 Farms, an Angus seedstock operation near Cameron, Texas, Tracy Woods focuses on reproductive sciences, animal health and nutrition management. Woods earned a bachelor’s of science degree in animal science and pre-veterinary medicine from Oklahoma State University in 2000. He worked for Reproductive Enterprises in Stillwater, Okla., for two years, managing their bull stud and breeding cows. He then went to work for eight years as registered cow herd manager for Limestone LLC, an Angus cattle operation, near Perkins, Okla. When that herd was dispersed in 2012, Woods joined 44 Farms.

Read more about the 2015 40 Under 40 class from Farm Journal Media.