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Lesmeister is first runner-up in Minnesota Pork Ambassador competition

First runner-up Lloyd Lesmeister, State Pork Ambassador Sarah Marketon and second runner-up Matthew Welter.

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. - Sarah Marketon of Howard Lake will serve as the new Minnesota Pork Ambassador. Judges selected Marketon from a field of 16 county pork ambassadors today during a special program at the agricultural tradeshow, Farmfest. Judging took place Aug. 6-8 and included interviews, presentations and group activities.

The Minnesota Pork Ambassador program, funded through the Pork Checkoff and sponsored by the Minnesota Pork Board, strives to encourage and recognize young adults who have an interest in hogs and agriculture.

Marketon, the daughter of Robert and Annette Marketon, represented the Wright County Pork Producers Association. She is a University of Minnesota student majoring in agricultural education and has an interest in global trade and exports. As Minnesota Pork Ambassador, she will receive a $1,500 scholarship from the Minnesota Pork Board. Marketon also received a $250 scholarship for her winning essay, Pigs Have Puppies?

Marketon says that with only two percent of the U.S. population actively involved in production agriculture, agriculture literacy is a challenge. Her goal as Minnesota Pork Ambassador will be to help shrink this farm-to-table knowledge gap by educating others about pork production.

First runner-up was Lloyd Lesmeister of Morris, the son of Wayne and Jean Lesmeister. He represented the Stevens County Pork Producers Association. Second runner-up was Matthew Welter of Stewartville, the son of Randy and Myrna Welter. He represented the Olmsted County Pork Producers Association.

Lesmeister is an animal science major at North Dakota State University, Fargo. After earning a master's degree in animal science, he plans to work within the livestock industry. He will receive a $750 scholarship.

Welter attends Iowa State University, Ames, as an agricultural biochemistry major. He plans to earn his doctorate degree in agricultural biochemistry and to work in plant genomics. He will receive a $500 scholarship. Welter also received congeniality honors from his fellow pork ambassador candidates. This accolade recognizes Welter for his amiable and helpful personality.

Marketon, Lesmeister and Welter will represent the state's 4,200 pork producing families at various functions throughout their term as pork ambassadors, including consumer and farmer educational events, and promotional activities that encourage pork consumption and public understanding of how pig farmers care for their animals. They will also have opportunities to enhance their understanding of the U.S. pork industry and to expand their leadership and communication skills.

County pork ambassadors who also took part in the competition were:

• Blue Earth County: Samantha Smith, the daughter of Bart and Patty Smith of Amboy

• Dakota County: Brad Kluver, the son of Rusty and Nancy Kluver of Northfield

• East Central Counties: Molly Briggle, the daughter of the Lee and Patty Todnem of Milaca

• East Central Counties: Kirsten Pike, the daughter of Gary and Carrie Pike of Braham

• Freeborn County: Annabelle Randall, the daughter of Tim and Melody Randall of Hollandale

• Le Sueur County: Brad Richter, the son of Dave and Karen Richter of Montgomery

• Le Sueur County: Brett Schwartz, the son of Alan and Barb Schwartz of Le Sueur

• Martin County: Haley Ammann, the daughter of David and Michele Ammann of Truman

• Martin County: Braden Grefe, son of Brian and Julie Thate and Jeff Grefe of Fairmont

• Mower County: Lee Kloeckner, the son of John and Barb Kloeckner of Adams

• Scott County: Maria Brekke, the daughter of Jon and Barb Brekke of Shakopee

• Stearns County: Erin Anderson, the daughter of John and Shirley Anderson of Belgrade

• Steele County: Alyssa Anderson, the daughter of Brian and Candace Anderson of Owatonna