By Aly McClure
Mercedes Rodriguez is currently a student at Kansas State University where she is pursuing a degree in international agribusiness with a certificate in beef cattle ranch management. Originally from Satanta, Kan., Mercedes has been surrounded by the beef industry the majority of her life. “Growing up, my family grazed cattle where I helped by checking and feeding cattle,” she says. “Both my grandfathers have trucking businesses that haul commodities to and from feedlots, locally and nationally. Additionally, my father is a contracted truck driver with a local feedlot where he hauls feed additives, so I have second-hand experience as to what it takes to get feed additives to feedlots.”
With her involvement in 4-H and FFA, Mercedes has had many interesting opportunities to experience international agriculture on a first-hand basis from her travels abroad.
“I was involved with many projects that helped shape me into the person I am today, my beef project being a big one,” she says. “My choice to pursue international agribusiness has come from 4-H and the Rotary Club, which [provided me] the opportunity to travel on two study abroad trips to Argentina and Brazil for one month and six months, respectively. This piqued my interest in learning four languages and allowing me to bring diversity to my future career.” She currently speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and some German.
“I feel like my study-abroad experiences opened my mind to a bigger and better world view of agriculture. It’s allowed me to see what other countries are doing and how their citizens view agriculture. It’s encouraged me to play a part in agriculture, domestic and foreign.”
While 4-H and FFA began her development in the beef industry, since going to college Mercedes has also taken the opportunity to get involved in clubs and organizations as well, furthering her interest in international agribusiness.
“Collegiate 4-H has allowed me to continue to have involvement with 4-H and youth development through the ability to work in counties with the youth from officer training to project judging,” Mercedes explains.
“Collegiate Cattlewomen and Cattlemen have given me opportunities to tour agriculture industries that I otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to visit. I am also a part of Alpha of Clovia. Being a part of that organization and sisterhood has opened a whole new networking and support system full of women in ag and non-ag who will be beneficial and important contacts in the future.”
In 2015, Mercedes was awarded the Cattle Empire, LLC scholarship in Satanta, which provided her internship opportunities with them the past two summers. Through that she has learned even more about hands-on, modern cattle production. She has participated in everything from calf ranch animal handling to communications management. According to Mercedes, it’s been an irreplaceable learning opportunity.
When asked what one piece of advice she could give to someone looking to follow a path similar to hers, Mercedes advises, “Set your goals and never look back. You can always tweak your goals along the way, but if it’s your passion, go for gold and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”
What an inspirational young woman to look up to. We can’t wait to see how your future develops, Mercedes.hange this text.