NEW COLLEGIATE CATTLEWOMEN CHAPTER STARTS
PLANT CITY GCCW MEMBERS REAP SAME BENEFITS AS GROUP AT UF IN GAINESVILLE
Written by: KATEY MCCLENNY
Many young female ranchers who study at the University of Florida’s flagship campus in Gainesville join the Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen group, or GCCW. An active organization made up of like-minded individuals, GCCW members attend local events, visit ranches and help educate the public about the beef industry. The group also provides a network for UF women who share a common passion for the cattle industry to connect and foster relationships.
“I became a member of GCCW as a freshman in college, later serving in numerous officer positions and, eventually, as a mentor to the group after graduation,” says UF graduate Ashley Hughes. “This women-centric association provided me with opportunities and experiences which helped launch my career in the cattle industry. I was also introduced to countless professional contacts—many of whom are now friends after years of working together—I would never been exposed to without my involvement in GCCW,” she adds.
Hughes then worked for the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, two cattle feeding operations and the American Brahman Breeders Association. Currently, she is employed as a technical sales representative for Multimin USA.
UF graduate April Walker also joined GCCW while in Gainesville and notes, “Those friendships have grown beyond the meeting room and many have carried over into our professional lives. That in itself was worth being a member.” Walker went on to work in the cattle industry in Texas.
Now, students who attend the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at Plant City, in Hillsborough County, have their own GCCW chapter. The members will be able to reap the same benefits as Gainesville GCCW members, and will participate in community events as well. Casie Holloway, Jason Stewart and Dr. Debra Barry are to thank for forming the Plant City group.
“Since we girls don’t go to the UF campus in Gainesville, they wanted us to have the same opportunities as the Gator collegiate girls up there,” explains member Kayden Strickland. She is a freshman at UF’s campus in Plant City.
In November of 2020, the Plant City GCCW members got together for their first meeting. It was a welcoming celebration in which Florida Cattlewomen past president Reba Mazak and past president Debbie Gill were in attendance.
Mazak, currently president-elect for the American National Cattlewomen, spoke and updated attendees on what the National Cattlewomen are currently doing. Florida Cattlemen’s Association First Runner-Up Sweetheart Blair Buchanon also attended.
“We have such a variety of girls in our group, from those who have never been involved with the cattle industry to those who are wanting to get back into it,” Strickland continues. “We are very blessed with some amazing supporters and we can’t thank them enough.”
One event that the new organization will participate in is Wreaths Across America. Members will place wreaths at all national cemeteries, on behalf of their county. They also have a ranch tour coming up at Kempfer Cattle Company in Brevard County, led by current Florida Cattlemen’s Association Sweetheart Sally Kempfer.
Persons wanting more information about the group or wishing to join can follow the UF Plant City Cattlewomen’s Facebook page. Info is also available by sending an email to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.