Shalene McNeill is a registered dietitian and a nutrition scientist who works on behalf of America’s beef farmers and ranchers to lead scientific research and education programs focused on inspiring people to enjoy beef as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. As part of this work, she advocates for farmers and ranchers and the critical role they play in ensuring we have a wholesome, nutritious and sustainable food supply. She received a B.S. in Biomedical Science and a Ph.D. in Human Nutrition from Texas A&M University. She and her husband Scott have two daughters who they are very grateful for – Kirby is a junior at Jourdanton High School and Kate is a sophomore at Texas A&M University.
Why have you decided to serve as a Trailblazer for the JLSA?
As a registered dietitian and mom, I am looking for ways to influence and motivate people, especially youth, towards healthier and happier lifestyles. As life goes on, and especially through this pandemic, I have become much more aware of the emotional challenges so many in our communities, our schools and our workplaces face. In my nutrition work, I see how emotions can underpin our food choices, our physical health and our overall state of wellness. I am not a mental health pro and I am not a member of the Junior League but I am thrilled I was asked to help do something. So here I am. I hope you will join us in our effort.
Who and/or what inspires you to pave a path in our community (be a community leader/participant)?
I was raised by two hard working parents who divorced when I was young. I am beyond grateful they both showed me unconditional love, but emotional skill development wasn’t a focus of my raising. In my young adult life, I went through a personal discovery journey where I engaged support and learned skills that I have used throughout my life to navigate the emotional challenges life will inevitably throw our way. Living in a rural community, resources for all forms of health, and especially mental health, are often limited. For children in particular, so much support and skills are needed as they must navigate relentless cultural pressures and societal challenges. I am called to serve in this initiative to bring attention to the mental health needs of communities and contribute resources to strengthen them.