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Where's The Beef?

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 5:15am

Dr's Brandi Karisch and Josh Maples talk all things beef and the benefits that 4-H beef projects can provide for youth today!


Announcer: This is 4-H-4-U-2, a podcast from the Mississippi State University Extension Service, promoting 4-H programs and positive youth development. Here now are your hosts, Dr. John Long and Cobie Rutherford.

John Long: And welcome to another edition of 4-H-4-U-2 podcast. I'm your host John Long.

Cobie Rutherford: And I'm Cobie Rutherford.

John Long: Cobie, how you doing today?

Cobie Rutherford: Good for a Friday the 13th.

John Long: And a full moon.

Cobie Rutherford: That's right.

John Long: It's going to be a wild night.

Cobie Rutherford: Hoping that we'd get a good victory over Kansas State this weekend.

John Long: Well, yeah. Let's get there. We got to get there first.

Cobie Rutherford: That's right.

John Long: Got any superstitions you're...

Cobie Rutherford: You know, I'm not really superstitious about anything, to be honest with you.

John Long: Really? That's interesting.

Cobie Rutherford: No, not really. I mean, I do X out black cats, when they cross the road, on my windshield.

John Long: I do too and reverse X white cats.

Cobie Rutherford: I don't know why I do that.

John Long: I don't know. It's just the way I was brought up, I guess.

Cobie Rutherford: Maybe so.

John Long: My folks were probably more superstitious, I guess. Well, we've got two special guests with us today, and Cobie, I'm going to let you introduce who we have with us.

Cobie Rutherford: So this morning we have Dr. Brandi Karisch and Dr. Josh Maples with us, and we'll let them tell a little bit about themselves.

Brandi Karisch: I'm Brandi Karisch. I am the state beef cattle extension specialist here at Mississippi State and I'm excited to be joining you all today.

John Long: We're happy to have you.

Josh Maples: And I'm Josh Maples. I'm a livestock economist and just commodity economist here at Mississippi State. And thanks for having me on the program this morning.

John Long: Absolutely, glad to have you. Now, let me ask you all, do you all have any superstitions? Brandi, do you have any?

Brandi Karisch: Oh, I'm sure there's lots of little quirks, but none of them directly related to Friday the 13th. You can't walk under a ladder. That's bad luck.

John Long: Right, that's bad luck for sure. I never do that. I just don't think it's a smart thing to do in the first place, especially if somebody's on it.

Cobie Rutherford: That's right.

John Long: Josh, how about you? Do you got any superstitions?

Josh Maples: Yeah, most of mine are sports related. So if my team is doing really bad and then I walk away and they start doing really good, I don't watch them.

John Long: Really? Okay.

Josh Maples: And so I think it's all in whether I'm watching or not is what's causing them to do better.

John Long: Exactly. Exactly.

Brandi Karisch: We have the same thing in our house, but sometimes you have to go change shirts also.

Josh Maples: Yeah, that's true.

Brandi Karisch: If your team is losing and you change shirts.

Josh Maples: 2014, Daks, I guess, junior year when we were so good, I wore the same shirt for every single game.

Brandi Karisch: Did you really?

Josh Maples: And it worked out until the very end, you know, but ...

John Long: Of course. Yeah. Well go ahead.

Cobie Rutherford: Josh and Brandi. I used to work real close with them when I was over in the animal dairy science department, and they're actually thinking about starting their own podcast about the beef cattle industry.

John Long: Well, don't let us run you off from doing one. Okay. Because we have a lot of fun with it. We really do enjoy it. So I encourage you, if you're interested in doing one, please let us, Hey, let us be special guests.

Cobie Rutherford: Yeah. Maybe this will be a launch board for them.

John Long: That's right. That's right. I don't know what we're going to talk about.

Brandi Karisch: We don't even have a name yet, so we're very starting stages here, so.

John Long: I think you'll find it informative. But yeah. For your, what, clientele, I guess. Go ahead.

Cobie Rutherford: So, Brandi grew up in 4-H in Louisiana, is that right?

Brandi Karisch: That's correct.

John Long: What Parish?

Brandi Karisch: Ascension parish.

John Long: Where is that located?

Brandi Karisch: So, we're halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans on the ... I'm actually on the west side of the river in Ascension Parish. So the Mississippi river splits Ascension Parish, and my little hometown of Donaldsonville is the only one on the West bank.

John Long: Oh, cool. We just got back from New Orleans and went to Chalmette.

Brandi Karisch: Okay.

John Long: Yeah, it was really cool.

Brandi Karisch: I hope you ate good while you're there.

John Long: Oh dude, we can do a whole episode on that.

Cobie Rutherford: We talk about food a lot on this, sad to say.

John Long: Yes, we do. Yeah. Especially when we got back from New Orleans, that's all we talked about.

Cobie Rutherford: For about two weeks.

John Long: Yeah, that's right.

Cobie Rutherford: And Josh grew up in FFA program in Alabama.

John Long: Okay. So tell me where, where in Alabama?

Josh Maples: So, Limestone County, Alabama, not too far from where Cobie's from and yes, I grew up mostly in FFA. It was just a little bit bigger in the County that I was in, but did participate in 4-H as a younger high school student, middle school students.

John Long: Now what did you do in 4-H?

Josh Maples: So, in 4-H it was mostly just the middle school type stuff. So I didn't show or anything like that. But just kind of the leadership training at early stages.

John Long: Yeah. That's cool. That's cool. I was not. I was never in 4-H until I came here, and I have no idea how I got here.

Cobie Rutherford: And now John is a shooting sports guru.

John Long: Yeah, well. 4-H SAFETY, not shooting.

Cobie Rutherford: Oh, that's right. I always forget that.

John Long: How dare you say that?

Cobie Rutherford: I know. That's right. Well, we've got a lot of things going on in 4-H right now, and I know Brandi's got a lot coming up with the state fair activities and with youth livestock shows at the fair. Brandi, tell us a little bit about why you think that those type of activities are important to 4-H-ers, like showing cattle, and showmanship, and anything kind of involved with that.

Brandi Karisch: Cobie, I'm a pretty proud product of the livestock program, the 4-H livestock program. You know, I tell people I do beef cattle for fun, and I do beef cattle for a living, and I grew up doing beef cattle. So I guess that's about all I know how to do. So I really hope nothing happens to take that away from me. But you know, not only are we growing cattle with these programs, we're growing kids, and I think that's something that's so important. Those kids that we see grow up through the livestock program. Not only is there research that shows that those kids that go out and play in the dirt have stronger immune systems and stay healthier, but those kids are the ones that are growing up to be leaders when they go on later in life, when they go into college and when they get into careers. And you know, we hear constantly from companies all over the place that they look for those type of experiences that prove those kids know how to work.

Brandi Karisch: They wake up every morning and those cattle get fed or those livestock projects get fed before they do. They get brought in before daylight, before they get ready to go to school most days. And then when they get off the bus in the evenings, it's straight to the barn to take care of those animals and do those things. And then on top of that, learning that hard work, you get to go out and have fun and meet lots of friends that you might not be connected to because they might not live close by.

Brandi Karisch: I have friends all across the country that I talk to on a regular basis that I grew up showing cattle with, and that I'm good friends with because of that program. So it's something that I can't speak highly of enough.

John Long: Right. It's, it's so much, and we always say this too, but it just seems like what you're saying is that 4-H expands. It's not just about showing livestock, it's about developing that young person, and you can't emphasize that enough. And I think a lot of people miss that based on just the competitive side of it. And that's sad because you understand that we're making leaders for tomorrow and some people would just miss that.

Cobie Rutherford: Another thing is whether it's showing cattle or competing in safety events or even athletics.

John Long: Yes.

Cobie Rutherford: The underlying goal of that is to make better people.

John Long: Right.

Brandi Karisch: When I was growing up, Louisiana 4-H has a program that when I was growing up, it was called 4-H for a course. And I'm not entirely ... It's called something different now, I think it's called 4-HU is what they call it. And one of the projects that I did every year was a soybean illustrated talk. I know nothing about-

John Long: Sounds fantastic.

Brandi Karisch: I know nothing about soybeans, but I'm competitive enough that by God I worked really hard, and I got up there and I did my soybean illustrated talk, and I got my medal, and I was really excited about that. Just goes to show you can expand your horizons doing things beyond your area of expertise in 4-H.

John Long: And it's amazing the catalog of things that we have available for youth too. I think that's just awesome.

Cobie Rutherford: Josh, I think you got roped in to helping with a 4-H contest this year at Club Congress, didn't you? The consumer judging? Did you help with that?

Josh Maples: The consumer judge, that's right. That was our first time. I didn't even know that a contest existed. I should have, but after I started helping out with it a little bit this year, it was really cool. It helped, or I guess it kind of trained students or help students learn how to make decisions. It really wasn't Ag. related. It was a, it was more of just making choices and economic thinking. And I really enjoyed it and I thought it was great for the students and they were very active and involved. And yeah, I had a great experience with it.

Cobie Rutherford: That's actually one of our largest contests at that we do all year, believe it or not.

Josh Maples: I can believe it. There were a lot of students, it was impressive.

Cobie Rutherford: And it's got kind of a wide range appeal that appeals to all 4-H-ers. Everyone's going to shop for groceries or consumer type products, clothing, and it's just got a big appeal to it.

John Long: Are you okay?

Cobie Rutherford: Yeah. I just banged my knee, did you hear that?

Brandi Karisch: We heard that.

John Long: I think I heard the bone break over here.

Cobie Rutherford: Yeah, we were talking about that earlier, how these mics pick up everything though. Jammed my knee.

John Long: Cobie's the one making all the racket.

Cobie Rutherford: That's right.

John Long: Come on. Set the example.

Cobie Rutherford: Yeah. But I think that's a coll contest for sure.

Josh Maples: Yeah. And I think, and Brandi kind of pointed to it earlier, but that's one of the best things about 4-H is just the breadth of things that you can do. And it's great for students to do stuff that they're not used to. Kind of like the soybean thing Brandi mentioned and this consumer judge. It may not be anything that anybody had ever thought about, but even if you're mostly have done cattle, you're raised on a cattle farm, being able to have the chance to step out and do some of this other stuff. It helps you going forward. You're going to be exposed to all these things in the future, and the earlier you can get exposed the better off you're going to be.

John Long: You know, and a lot of people ... I'm sorry Brandi, were you going to say something?

Brandi Karisch: Oh, I was going to say, we definitely see the difference in those kids when they get to college and they get involved in classes. And one of the things that most kids dread when they get to college is having to do that presentation up in front of a group.

John Long: That was the worst.

Brandi Karisch: And you can tell those kids that were involved in programs like 4-H not only did they have that experience getting to compete, but they're used to talking to people, and they're comfortable talking in front of people. Very respectful. Very respectful I think is probably the biggest thing that I take away from that. And you can really see the difference in those kids when they get up in front of a college classroom.

Josh Maples: Yeah, I agree with that. And I would add to it that also, just dealing with challenges, you can sit in class, you might give students an assignment they've never seen anything like before, and it puts them out of their comfort zone a little bit. The students who have participated in 4-H and have some of these leadership skills from an early age, you can just, they just take it in stride. It's a lot easier for them to adjust. And it's not just a ... They're not just in a textbook minded, or textbook mindset. They can handle things that don't necessarily fit on a piece of paper.

John Long: That's right. And I'll go back to kind of tag off what Brandi said too, is that I often had people ask me, "What should my child be involved in," or "which one would you think?" I'd say "Well, number one, ask the child what they would like to do" and then, "Try it." It's not, it's not set in stone that you have to do one thing. You tried, and that's the reason we have so many programs because it's about the hook that we use to get the child to be developed. And it's also a good point, a part or point to say that another thing is, is they're exposed to an activity with a caring adult, which they have as a mentor, I guess you could say. And I like that part too. I think it's important. Whether it be an agent or a volunteer.

Cobie Rutherford: That's exactly right. I mean, I think our agents are super special to our 4-H-ers, but the volunteers that they have a chance to interact with are usually leaders in the community, people that they can certainly look up to from a career readiness standpoint. There's a lot of good things going on there.

Brandi Karisch: Yeah. My husband and I both grew up in the 4-H livestock program, and that's something that we always try to do is volunteer to help give back. Not everybody grew up around livestock. Not everybody knows everything, but there's kids that really get excited about it and they want to get involved, and those are the kids that we really want to help. Be it, we've put on some showmanship clinics, or helped with the Cattleman's Association has put on where we go through everything about how to feed your animal, showmanship, how to train them to get ready for the show. And watching those kids as you go through and seeing that light bulb moment where, let's face it, I've got a four year old and an eight month old. Well, I guess he's nine months old now.

John Long: Oh God bless you.

Brandi Karisch: Gosh, he's nine months old earlier this week.

John Long: Are you all sleeping through the night?

Brandi Karisch: We sleep sometimes.

John Long: Okay, yeah.

Brandi Karisch: We sleep sometimes.

John Long: That's what I figured.

Brandi Karisch: But more often than not it's easier for them, especially the four-year-old, to listen to somebody other than mom or dad. So having those good leaders and those good volunteers that will be good role models for those kids growing up I think is invaluable.

John Long: Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. One of the things, talking about kids, I tell mine, "Look, if you want to do livestock, that's fine, but you're going to have to find somebody else to teach you because I know nothing other than they make good hamburgers." That's it. Oh, when we get a good glass of milk. But that's pretty much it. But I'm willing to learn. I'll tell you that.

Cobie Rutherford: Yeah. You know, when I think about where I want Reason to be with 4-H, I sure hope he picks up the livestock skills.

John Long: What are you going to do if he doesn't?

Cobie Rutherford: I'll be okay with it, I guess. We'll just put him, make him go to the barn and do chores.

John Long: I see the concern in your-

Cobie Rutherford: I think that when he starts out with 4-H, which is six or seven years from now, I mean he's still two and a half, but I think that I'm going to have the same approach my parents did that if he wants to have a livestock project he can, but he's also going to have to do other things as well. He can't just show livestock. So my parents made me do everything from ... I say made. They did make me start off with like cookie cook-off and public speaking-

John Long: Here we go, here's the food.

Cobie Rutherford: ... and all that stuff. I got a big view approach to 4-H early on because they made me, but I was thankful for that. For sure.

Josh Maples: Cobie, my first 4-H event was a cake baking contest. I remember that. I can't remember which grade I was in, but ...

Cobie Rutherford: I think that was a big thing in Alabama.

Josh Maples: It was.

Cobie Rutherford: That's how they got you hooked into 4-H. Food. The teacher's wanted to eat, so they made their fifth graders bake something.

Josh Maples: Everybody bring in cake today we'll ...

Brandi Karisch: That's some very brave teachers to volunteer to eat cakes made by a whole class full of fifth graders.

John Long: Oh yeah. Yes. I think we've got some pretty interesting stories on cook-offs don't we?

Cobie Rutherford: Oh yeah. I'm sure.

John Long: Yeah. But keep on trying. Get better. That's what we do. So.

Cobie Rutherford: Brandi, Texas, one of their largest events now ... I mention Texas because that's where her husband's from, the kind of backstory on where Brandi went to school. But they've got a great American food challenge that they say is going to be their largest event for 4-H-ers soon.

Brandi Karisch: Yeah. I mean, that's something that ties in I think so well to what they see. Food Network, all those cooking shows and everything like that. People eat those things up.

John Long: They do.

Brandi Karisch: They're not like me. I could sit there and watch home improvement shows and fantasize about how I want to remodel my house. But cooking shows, you just sit there and are hungry all day long. And I think that's something that's really important, especially when you tie in the nutrition aspect to it as well. So not only are they learning how to make things with those ingredients, they're learning how to make healthy dishes with those ingredients that they can take back home. And I think that's something that's really exciting to a lot of kids that might not necessarily have thought 4-H was for them.

John Long: Right. For sure.

Cobie Rutherford: You know, in Mississippi right now, only 6% of our 4-H-ers claim to live on farms or ranches. And to me in my programmatic approach to that I think, well we need to offer programs that those kids are interested in. But it's also very important for us to offer programs to the 94% to teach them about what's going on the farm’s ranches. So if we can tie a project area like food that they're interested in, tie back to agriculture, some somebody would say, "Hey, this is where that ground beef came from. This is the story behind that steer that produced that ground beef." I think that's going to be our ticket here in Mississippi.

John Long: For sure.

Cobie Rutherford: Whether it's with agriculture or with natural resources or whatever. It's an important part of all of our lives.

John Long: So what have y'all got coming up? Y'all got anything throughout the year that y'all... basically programs and things like that. Have you've got anything coming up Brandi?

Brandi Karisch: So we've got a fun program coming up that's called Beef 101. It actually started as I had a cattle producer that came up to me one day and said, "I know everything that I can know about how to process a deer in the field, but I know nothing about how to process this beef animal that I raise. How does he get from that animal that leaves my farm to that steak that ends up on somebody's table." So on November 2nd, and we're actually opening up our brand new meat and muscle biology laboratory here on campus, and we're going to invite producers in, and we're going to go through that process.

Brandi Karisch: So we're going to take everything and walk through that facility and show producers. We're not going to have any live animals that we're going to harvest, but we're going to have them break down a carcass, so they get to play butcher for the day.

John Long: Wow.

Brandi Karisch: I don't think we don't have any meat for them to take home, but we're going to have a pretty cool branded knife that they can take home. So this is actually the second time that we've done that program and the feedback that we've gotten from it has been something that's been really good. So we're looking forward to having that program again.

John Long: That sounds awesome.

Cobie Rutherford: Yeah, it does.

Josh Maples: So we're, the fall after a farm bill comes out as a busy time. We're doing our farm bill rollout signup period starts. So producers are having to make decisions about how to enroll their acres and their crops into the new farm bill. And so that's a big thing. We're hitting most of the state over the next three months.

John Long: Wow.

Josh Maples: Yeah. It doesn't happen all the time. Every five years you can expect a fall to be pretty full, and so that just happens to be this fall.

John Long: Sounds like you got to cover the state. That's going to be busy.

Josh Maples: It probably will be.

John Long: A lot of miles.

Josh Maples: Not as many changes this time as last time. So it won't be as bad, hopefully.

John Long: Yeah. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Brandi Karisch: Sounds like we've got a good topic to cover for our first podcast.

John Long: Oh, yeah.

Brandi Karisch: How to make the farm bill work for you?

Josh Maples: Yeah, yeah.

John Long: That's awesome. Well if they want to find more information about 4-H and 4-H in their area, adults and youth, Cobie where can we go to, can they get that information from?

Cobie Rutherford: So the first place that you should go to find out information about 4-H or any of our extension related programs is our website, which is Or you can contact any of our county offices, and we have a County office located in every single county in the state of Mississippi, and find out information from your county agent.

John Long: The one thing I love about our website is the fact that if you don't know who's in your county, they have a dropdown menu and you can click on say if it was Oktibbeha County, it shows all of the staff, and it has all the contact information. And it's on the right side of that page. So that's always a helpful way. I think I use that more than anything. But y'all Brandi, Josh, we thank you so much for joining us today, and we wish you the best and all that y'all are doing. Thank you for what you do and keep up the good work. We'd love to have you come back, and good luck on your own podcast.

Brandi Karisch: Thanks for letting us crash your party today.

John Long: Oh, not crashing just amped it up.

Josh Maples: No doubt.

John Long: Yeah. I asked when they walked into the office a while ago and I said, Oh, they had donuts. I said, "When did the party start?" They said, "As soon as you walked in the door." Well, thank y'all so much for listening. If you would, if you're out there listening to us, please subscribe to our podcast and join us. Every Wednesday is when our podcast drops. That's 4-H-4-U-2 for this week. Thanks for listening.

Announcer: Thanks for joining us for 4-H-4-U-2. For more information, please visit and be sure to subscribe to our podcast. 4-H-4-U-2 is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Office of Agricultural Communications.

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