Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
For former Beef Queen, cattle remain part of life
WASHINGTON — When Leah Evans joined 4-H at the age of 12, her family did not produce beef.
That didn’t stop her and her brothers from wanting to raise cattle, however.
“When we were younger, I would go out into an open hog lot with my brothers, and we would act like we were showing calves,” she said. “I have no idea where that came from … we would act like we were in a show ring, and we didn’t even have cows.”
After the kids proved their willingness to put in the work with bucket bottle calves, the family expanded into beef production.
Evans said it strengthened the familial bond on their farm.
“We don’t just eat lunch and breakfast together,” she said. “We work together. We build fence together, even though we dread those days, most times. It definitely has brought my family closer … we work as a team with it.”
Now 21, Evans’ family runs a roughly 100-head cattle operation. Over the years, she’s been named Washington County Beef Queen, and nominated to the national Junior Red Angus Board, a branch of the broader Red Angus Association that focuses on getting and keeping young producers involved.
The organization pulled her in, putting her on an airplane for the first time in July of 2022. She’s boarded 27 flights since then, traveling to trade shows, contests and of course, the association’s yearly round-up.
The cause is one she cares deeply about.
“Last year at round-up, we had a new kid come, kind of shy and intimidated, and the junior board and some other older leaders took him under the wing and really dug in with him,” Evans said. “He now wants to come back to round-up, because people took the initiative to learn and have fun … making sure these kids all connect well, it’s important because they’re our future, they’re the next ones.”
The role is a major departure from her roots in the cattle industry, working more with people than with the animals themselves. Evans said she did miss the daily, on-farm involvement but recognized the importance of her new role.
“I’ve told my family and I’ve told my brothers, especially … someone has to be the voice, someone has to have the voice, someone has to share the voice,” she said. “We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have the people out in Washington, D.C. being the voice for the industry … my voice isn’t that big yet. I hope to be bigger one day, but I have to be the voice for our farm, I have to be the voice for our industry.”
The junior board has an age cap, which prevents Evans from running to stay on the board, despite her passion for it. In a bid to stay engaged with the industry at-large, she plans to seek an ambassador position with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
“The cattle industry has really been my home, and it’s impacted my life so heavily, so I hope to impact someone else’s life,” she said. “I don’t plan on ever stopping, I plan to stay involved not just in the Red Angus industry, but in the beef industry. I don’t know what those plans are yet, but I plan to hopefully be a leader for some kids that need it.”