Farm Horizons, October 2012

Sarah Marketon enjoys her role as Minnesota Pork Ambassador

By Jennifer Kotila

Sarah Marketon of Howard Lake was chosen to serve as the new Minnesota Pork Ambassador Aug. 8. Judges selected Marketon from a field of 16 county pork ambassadors during a special program at the agricultural tradeshow, Farmfest. The judging took place Aug. 6-8, and included interviews, presentations, and group activities.

“As the Minnesota Pork Ambassador, my main goal is to talk to as many people as possible,” Marketon said. “I want to talk with consumers who want to meet a farmer and learn more about how pigs are raised; and I definitely want to meet with farmers to listen to how I can best represent them during the upcoming year.”

Marketon, the daughter of Robert and Annette Marketon, graduated from Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School this year, and is currently a University of Minnesota student majoring in agricultural education, with an interest in global trade and exports. As Minnesota Pork Ambassador, she will receive a $1,500 scholarship from the Minnesota Pork Board. She also received a $250 scholarship for her winning essay.

With only 2 percent of the US population actively involved in production agriculture, agriculture literacy is a challenge, Marketon noted. Her goal as Minnesota Pork Ambassador will be to help shrink the farm-to-table knowledge gap by educating others about pork production, she said.

Although her year has just begun, Marketon has already been using her new position to talk to pork producers, and to educate others about the pork industry. Her first duty was to assist in serving pork chops at the Munson Lakes Nutrition appreciation lunch, after which she worked 12 days at the Minnesota State Fair.

At the state fair, Marketon gave out pig hats at the Oink Booth, as well as answering questions about the sow and litter exhibited in the hog barn. She also shared recipes with fairgoers and informed them of the US Department of Agriculture’s new recommended cooking temperature for pork. (145 degrees Fahrenheit).

To be considered for pork ambassador, Marketon submitted an application and an original essay about a challenge facing the swine industry. Marketon’s essay, “Pigs Have Puppies?” was based on a question she received while working at the CHS Miracle of Birth Center at the state fair. The question made Marketon realize how important youth advocates are for the pork industry.

After submitting her application and essay, Marketon was interviewed by judges Aug. 6 and gave a public presentation about an issue within the industry Aug. 7. The candidates for pork ambassador participated in a surprise group activity in the form of a press conference Aug. 8, and the 2013 Pork Ambassadors were announced during the Forum Tent that afternoon.

“Only the judges can tell you what made me stand out from the other candidates, but I really tried to show the passion I have for promoting the swine industry now and into the future,” Marketon said. “Standing on stage was extremely nerve-racking, because I knew there were a lot of highly-qualified candidates standing up there with me.”

For the next year, Marketon will work with Lloyd Lesmeister from Morris, who was named first runner-up, and Matt Welter from Stewartville, second runner-up. The group will represent the state’s 4,200 pork-producing families at various functions.

“There are many activities planned for us during the upcoming year,” Marketon said. “All three of us will be going to the Agricultural Future of America Conference in Kansas City, MO in November. Then, in January, we will be at the Minnesota Pork Congress and Taste of Elegance. Other events throughout the spring may include county breakfasts on the farm, and we will be kept busy next summer going to Oink Outings.”

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