Farm Progress

The Illinois Beef Association names Cambridge producer as its junior of the year. Here’s how leadership, public speaking and relationship building have helped her develop skills in the beef industry.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

June 25, 2018

2 Min Read
CATTLEWOMAN: Katie Miller credits her grandparents for her start in the industry and for shaping her into the person she is today.Illinois Beef Association

For Katie Miller, the cattle business is about more than cattle.

“My grandparents got me started in agriculture, and they really helped shape me as a person,” she says of grandparents Dan and Betty Strange, Cambridge. They taught her to work hard and be humble, and encouraged her to be involved on the farm, including all the daily chores.

“They’re going on vacation in July, so I get to take care of everything while they’re gone!” Katie says.

Katie, the daughter of Paul and Lisa Miller, was recently named the 2018 Outstanding Junior by the Illinois Beef Association. She recently completed her junior year at Western Illinois University, with a major in agriculture science and an emphasis in animal science, and transferred to WIU from Blackhawk East College.

ON FARM: Katie Miller is studying agricultural sciences at Western Illinois University. She hopes to continue her involvement in the cattle industry even beyond her undergraduate education, including helping manage her family’s farm operations.

After graduation, she’s considering getting a graduate degree in ruminant nutrition or meat science, while partnering on the farm with her grandparents.

She got her start in the Illinois Junior Beef Association following a stint as the Henry County Beef Ambassador. Today, she’s vice president of the IJBA board, where she helps plan the EDGE conference and helps at the state fair jackpot show.  

“I was never expecting to win this award,” Katie says. “There have been so many deserving winners in the past, and I was so surprised.”

Her family runs a 50-head Simmental-cross cow-calf herd near Cambridge, and they are partners in a herd at another location. Katie has also served as both queen and secretary of the Illinois Junior Simmental Association.

Her advice to other young cattle producers? “Get involved as much as you can. You learn a lot of life lessons and make friends from across the state.”

Among the life lessons for Katie include public speaking skills, like those gained in the IJBA’s speech contest at the Illinois State Fair. She credits the EDGE conference with widening her knowledge base about different segments of the Illinois beef industry. 


About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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