January 8, 2005: Headlines: COS- Gambia: Beef: The Daily Oklahoman: The Gambia RPCV Heather Buckmaster to head Oklahoma Beef Council

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Gambia: Peace Corps The Gambia : The Peace Corps in the Gambia: January 8, 2005: Headlines: COS- Gambia: Beef: The Daily Oklahoman: The Gambia RPCV Heather Buckmaster to head Oklahoma Beef Council

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The Gambia RPCV Heather Buckmaster to head Oklahoma Beef Council

The Gambia RPCV Heather Buckmaster to head Oklahoma Beef Council

The Gambia RPCV Heather Buckmaster to head Oklahoma Beef Council

Oklahoma beef council selects new director
Jan 8, 2005

The Daily Oklahoman

by Jim Stafford

Jan. 8--Heather Buckmaster's career has taken her from a farm near Hydro to West Africa to Colorado and now back "home" as the new executive director of the Oklahoma Beef Council.

Buckmaster, 36, will succeed Michael Kelsey as director of the beef council when she assumes the post on Monday. Kelsey resigned as the council director in October to become executive director of the industry group, Nebraska Cattlemen Inc.

Buckmaster's "homecoming" comes after a tenure of more than seven years as marketing director for the Colorado Beef Council in Denver and a two-year tour of Gambia, Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer.

In between, she earned a master's degree in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University.

"When I came back from Peace Corps, I really thought I was going to go into international ag development, but I always tell people I guess the cattle industry is genetic and I have no hope," she said. "I came back to Oklahoma, rediscovered my roots and it's like I'm supposed to work for the cattle industry."

Buckmaster grew up on a wheat-stocker cattle farming operation near Hydro, and the Oklahoma Beef Council position brings her closer to her parents, Reid and Coleen Buckmaster.

Those Oklahoma ties played a part in luring her back.

"Home is always a major call to anyone and being able to take that (Colorado) experience and go to work for the Oklahoma beef producers," Buckmaster said. "I love the (cattle) industry, I love the people. They are awesome individuals, and it's a wonderful industry to work for."

The Beef Council is funded by the beef checkoff, from which $1 dollar from each animal sold is set aside for beef promotion and education programs.

Of course, Buckmaster also works for an industry that has been buffeted by mad cow discoveries both in the United States in December 2003 and in Canada as recently as last month.

Beef demand remained strong after this nation's first case was discovered in a lone cow in Washington state, and the industry continues to enjoy strong cattle prices and beef demand.

Chalk it up to the fact that the industry laid a "strong foundation" of consumer confidence in beef through education programs, Buckmaster said.

"Preparation was absolutely key, and we did have science on our side," she said. "I think we have the safest beef supply in the world, and I want consumers in Oklahoma to understand that."

Buckmaster brings to Oklahoma's industry much needed ties to the national beef promotion organization that also is based in Colorado, said James Campbell, Oklahoma Beef Council chairman.

"We felt like with her experience with the Colorado Beef Council, she could hit the ground running," Campbell said.

Steve Smola, president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, said Buckmaster's Oklahoma ties also should aid her in the new job.

"The main thing is we are promoting beef in our state, but we also need somebody who can collaborate and visit with our producers statewide," he said. "We think she's a good fit."

Making a difference

Heather Buckmaster's two-year tour as a Peace Corps volunteer was a real awakening for a young woman who grew up on an Oklahoma farm.

She served two years as an agricultural extension agent in the west African nation of Gambia, working with women's agriculture groups whom she described as "the backbone of the country. The women farmed without the aid of modern farm implements.

"They were great ladies and worked very, very hard," she said. "I found that out very quickly. 'Where's the tractor? Oh, no, you do all this by hand? Oh, really? Where's the irrigation? Oh, you haul the water!'

"So, it was a little bit different than growing up in Oklahoma."

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: The Daily Oklahoman

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS- Gambia; Beef



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