News Release: Graduate of JAG-K Program Applies Skills to Cattle Ranching:

The path to success is different for every student. JAG-K encourages participants to forge their own path and assists them in researching and preparing for the journey before they graduate.

For Paydon Snow, a 2022 graduate of Arkansas City High School, that path led him from high school straight to the beef industry, where he quickly went from employee to owner/manager.

“I grew up in it. My grandpa owned a bunch of cattle (near Arkansas City) and I worked with him and learned from him,” Snow said. “Then my senior year of high school, I started working at a packing plant during the evenings. I was more or less working a full-time job while still going to school.”

JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to help them successfully transition into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills.

JAG-K provided academic support and soft skills training to supplement Snow’s knowledge of ranching. His hard work yielded connections in beef production which guided him to new opportunities following graduation. After learning more about the cattle industry, he decided it was time to try his hand at ownership.

“First I took a job in Nebraska,” Snow said. “Then after about a year, I bought some cattle and at first, I leased land for pasture. Even though I was just 19, I had a lot of years of experience.”

Shortly thereafter, Snow took over direction of his grandfather’s ranch. Now he owns cattle in Kansas and Nebraska. While he feels like he is succeeding in his chosen career, Snow admits there are no guarantees in the cattle industry.

“I was not very confident, to be honest,” Snow said. “It’s a 50/50 business and you can go under with wrong decisions. I knew the risk of it. But this is all I’ve ever really known. I felt like I had a better chance to be successful at this than anything else. There was never anything else I really considered.”

Snow joined the JAG-K class in the spring semester of his freshman year, at a time when he needed guidance and accountability to do well in school. He praised the efforts of the Career Specialists at his school, Sandy Wiemers and Chad Hopkins.

“The main thing was they never gave up on any of their students,” Snow said. “They would go above and beyond for them.”

He said the JAG-K program helped him learn to better communicate and better manage his time. He said he benefitted from the examples of others who worked hard in their chosen fields.

Since then, Snow has learned the skills necessary to succeed in the cattle industry.

“I wasn’t ever very great in school, so a lot of what I do now I have to learn from experience. There are some math skills I had to learn,” Snow said. “Mainly it just takes a lot of determination and hard work. Patience is a big thing because you work with cattle for a long time before you get the financial benefit.”

Kansas’ 112 JAG-K programs serve approximately 6,000 students in 47 school districts across the state. JAG-K Career Specialists help students graduate and learn career, leadership, and life skills by executing a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model. Participants must meet criteria to be selected for the program and have potential to overcome various barriers to post-secondary success. Last year, JAG-K had more than 900 high school graduates.

The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 38 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, EagleU, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, the JB and Anne Hodgdon Foundation, John Deere, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Royals Foundation, Kansas Gas Service, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Kohl’s, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of Kaw Valley, United Way of the Plains and Walmart.

To learn more about JAG-K, visit, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.