Hall of Fame
The Showtimes introduced our Hall of Fame in January 2009 and have included new inductees with each issue.
To be inducted, individuals must achieve something great in the livestock industry. They may be an exhibitor, judge, animal, show official or someone who makes a great impression.
Submit your Hall of Fame Nomination!
Ask Matt Gunderson why he devotes as much time as he does to agriculture education, literacy including 4-H, the answer is simple; he does it to give back to the programs that shaped who he is today and to pay it forward as a gift for those individuals to have participate in the same programs that gave him opportunities he never imagined. He lives his life by a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” He wants to see youth, urban and rural alike see their dreams fulfilled while creating a bright future for them in the process.
Matt Gunderson’s passion for agriculture, livestock and education started at a young age. He grew up on a farm near Yankton, South Dakota and the WNAX Radio Towers, one of the tallest AM Radio Towers in North America. Agriculture programming is still front and center today at the radio station. He started helping on the farm at age four (4) where his father was raising purebred Suffolk sheep. Between the ages of four (4) and five (5) he was driving a tractor and raising his pregnant mother up and down in the loader so she could paint the house. When the neighbors asked her why he was doing it, her response was he was better at the loader controls than her husband.
His passion for 4-H and the youth livestock show world started at an early age. Matt started at age seven (7) as a Cloverbud in the local Yankton County 4-H program as a member of the Mission Hill Hillers 4-H Club. The Club was very traditional from the standpoint of it was an all boy club. The club members and he voted several years later to add girls, a great decision allowing the club to thrive yet today. He exhibited purebred Suffolk sheep during the early years of 4-H and participated in livestock judging at the local and state levels. Yankton County was then and still is today one of the toughest sheep counties in the state of South Dakota to show in. Getting a purple ribbon to qualify for state was tougher there than getting a purple ribbon at the state fair.
As he grew, his involvement in 4-H continued to grow; he expanded his showing career to include cattle and poultry in the early 90’s. He also expanded his involvement in 4-H by getting involved in the local Junior Leaders program and his final two years in 4-H helped develop him greatly. He was selected as a South Dakota State 4-H Council Ambassador and also selected as one of four (4) winners to the National 4-H Science and Technology Symposium at the newly created Disney University in Orlando, FL. He and the other delegates learned about Science and Technology bringing it back to South Dakota to teach other 4-H staff and Council Ambassadors for the 1997 State Youth Conference. Matt was asked to Chair that year’s State Youth Conference where 400 youths called South Dakota State University home for a week.
In the early 90’s, his youngest uncle farmed helped run the dairy cattle farm with his maternal grandparents in northeast Nebraska and he broke his leg in a four-wheeler accident in the spring. They had dairy cows due to calve and he took care of the bottle calves. Matt’s parents offered to help bottle calves; soon 10 huts showed up at the farm and they were helping feed the calves.
Matt’s father found an interest in the cattle operation and this started the next chapter of the livestock operation, one that still continues today. The family evolved from feeding bottle dairy calves to keep some of the angus cross heifer replacements and started adding beef cattle while building a feedlot and a vet shed with a calving area. Matt’s height continued to grow and showing sheep was getting more difficult given his height. He transitioned to showing cattle and poultry and his sister who is five (5) years younger showed the sheep. He discovered a real interest in the cattle industry and the breeding that went with it.
The family through contacts discovered Maine-Anjou cattle and were introduced to showing in Maine-Anjou junior shows where he developed relationships that still continue today. He showed mainly breeding heifers in 4-H as those heifers would go back into the herd to become foundational females. They would run around 27 head of cows for several decades until Matt’s father retired last year and they started increasing the herd size to around 35-40 today. He continues to go back to the farm monthly assisting in the cattle operation.
He from middle school on knew he wanted to attend South Dakota State University (SDSU) and major in agriculture. He attended SDSU from 1997-2001 majoring in Animal Science with a Business and Production emphasis and received minors in Agriculture Business and Agriculture Marketing.
Matt thoroughly enjoyed participating in the contests at the Maine-Anjou Junior Nationals in the mid to late 90’s. He was on the national champion quiz bowl team in 1997 and 1998. 1998 found Matt and his father on the planning Committee for that year’s Maine-Anjou Junior Nationals in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Helping plan for that year’s show fueled in interest in learning more about livestock exhibitions. He was charged at age 19 to find the family night out at Junior Nationals for 300 kids and their families. He rented an entire water park in Sioux Falls for all of the show families to enjoy; it was a hit.
That same year, Matt helped get cattle ready for the DeJong Ranch family at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The super bowl of cattle shows was a great place to view the best cattle in the nation and see more people in a weekend to discuss cattle and cattle genetics than you could in a year. He has sold cattle and embryo’s over the years through Maine-Anjou sales in the yards. He continues to attend the National Western annually to see the best genetics and rekindle the relationships.
1998 continued to serve as pivotal year for fueling the fire of his passion by him getting a job as an Assistant Livestock Superintendent for 4-H at the South Dakota State Fair. He found he really enjoyed learning and helping behind the scenes with penning, shows, facilities, etc. He moved up through the ranks to become the Overall Livestock Superintendent in 2001. His involvement during his years at South Dakota State was extensive as well. He was involved and served in leadership positions in Alpha Gamma Rho, the SDSU Livestock Judging Team, Ag/Bio Prexy Council, Block and Bridle, Little International. The SDSU Little “I” is the largest student run agriculture exposition in the nation, he served as Manager in 2001. Matt founded the SDSU AGR Steer & Heifer Show in 2000, which still continues today. The first year of the show garnered 120 entries.
All of the involvement he had at this point had prepared him for his first professional role. He started in 2002 serving through 2004 as the 4-H Extension Assistant in charge of youth livestock and equine programming for SDSU Extension. He oversaw the 4-H livestock and horse programs statewide including the South Dakota State Fair. While in that role, he helped in the founding of the South Dakota Spotlight, South Dakota’s largest youth livestock shows outside of the State Fair.
During this time period he also serves as the Coach for South Dakota’s 4-H Livestock Judging Team to participate in Louisville in the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest. He also entered South Dakota’s first time in the National 4-H Livestock Skillathon Contest. His success and professionalism garnered the attention of chair of the National 4-H Livestock Contest Management Committee, Dr. Monty Chappel. Dr. Chappel asked Matt if he would be interested in serving on the National Management Committee helping with both the Livestock Judging and Skillathon Contests. He was honored and humbled to be asked to join such a prestigious group. He accepted and joined the Committee in 2003.
He served as the Superintendent for the National 4-H Livestock Skillathon Contest from 2005 to 2010, Assistant, Associate and Superintendent of the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest from 2010 to 2016. Starting in 2017 started serving as the Chair of the National 4-H Livestock Contests Committee, which oversees the Livestock Judging, Livestock Skillathon and starting this year, the Livestock Quiz Bowl Contests.
Matt was recruited in the fall of 2004 to serve in an Administrative Faculty position as 4-H Activities and Events Manager with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) in Reno, NV. He loved living in Reno and traveling the state of Nevada working across all aspects of the state’s 4-H programs and taking Nevada’s delegation on 4-H trips. The UNCE staff, 4-H leaders and volunteers across Nevada’s seventeen (17) counties were great to work with.
Matt moved back to the heartland in 2006 to begin working for the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation. Ak-Sar-Ben, Nebraska spelled backwards is the oldest foundation in the state with a deep, rich history. He began as Vice President primarily working with River City Roundup (the name previous to the Ak-Sar-Ben’s River City Rodeo & Stock Show) overseeing sponsorship fundraising, livestock auction fundraising, logistics and assisted the 4-H stock show and other foundation board activities. He expanded the sponsorship and fundraising efforts across the entire event, and worked to expand the 4-H Stock Show to more states, started the National 4-H Livestock Quiz Bowl Contest and a Livestock Judging Contest that became the largest one day livestock judging contest in the nation with over 500 senior college, junior college sophomore, freshman and 4-H’ers participating at the same time. He expanded the development of the Purple Ribbon Auction into giving out scholarships to the winners and also created a general scholarship program for senior 4-H’ers to apply for. He tightened and enforced the rules of the Show, which several said would reduce numbers; it had the opposite effect. Entry and participation numbers increased because all exhibitors were held to the same standard. He served as Executive Vice President of the Foundation and Executive Director of Ak-Sar-Ben’s River City Rodeo & Stock Show.
Gunderson’s philosophy has always been, if you run a high-quality, well organized event; enforce the rules and create as many opportunities as possible to succeed; people and families will attend and participate. The participation whether they realize it or not builds memories and develop life skills for the youth. Today besides chairing the National 4-H Livestock Contests Committee, he is chairs the Douglas County Fair Advisory Board where he led efforts to revitalize the Fair as the last agricultural education and literacy event left in the Omaha area.
The Douglas County Fair is the first fair in the United States to have a campus style concept where it embodies the tagline of “Where Urban and Rural Meet”. The Fair is held at an outdoor urban shopping center with an amphitheater, donated storefronts and a parade attract audiences. The rural component is held several miles west on an expressway where livestock shows, equine events and interactive agriculture education and displays brings the traditional fair component. Attendees park at a local community college and take free, air-conditioned shuttles to each location. The fair is managed by the Friends of Extension Foundation where he serves as the Immediate Past President. The Foundation supports University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Douglas and Sarpy Counties.
Matt also serves on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation Board of Directors, which is home to the Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom program and also this year was the main organization for Disaster Relief efforts due to the March 13th bomb cyclone that hit the state of Nebraska and Great Plains. He also is a member of the Omaha Chamber Agriculture Council and Omaha Agri-Business Board of Directors.
Professionally, he is a Vice President of Farm and Ranch Management for Farmers National Company, which is headquartered in Omaha. Farmers National Company is the nation’s largest farm and ranch management firm also offering a full range of rural landowner services from the largest agricultural real estate firm in the nation to the largest independent processor of oil and gas revenue, a forestry, hunting lease, insurance, ag stock, lake management, appraisal and consultation business lines. He oversees client relations, backend processes, consultations, special projects and business development for farm and ranch management. Matt is married to his wife Mitch and they have one daughter, Maryn. Matt’s parents, Jim and Patty are enjoying retirement and the farm; his sister Jennifer, who is an SDSU graduate and has her Masters in Meat Science from Kansas State is the Research and Development Department of one the leading food companies on the nation.
One of the main reasons that Matt Gunderson is involved in the programs that is he is today is for the next generation. For him, it is in large part to give his daughter as well as the sons and daughters of everyone the same opportunities to learn about agriculture, education and livestock and hopefully have those kids find a sliver of the same passion he has.
(Written by Bailey Clanton with the help of Amy Cowan and Danielle Starr)
The Clanton Family looks back and looks ahead to their involvement with the American Royal
The Kansas City Stockyards is a cherished landmark to many livestock families across the United States. As one of the central locations for marketing cattle in the 1940s, any number of cattlemen could be found in the stockyards. The American Royal has always carried on the tradition of bringing cattlemen together in the heart of the stockyards and in the early 2000’s became an annual event the Clanton family: Brett, Sheryl, Bailey and Cole, Bucyrus, Kan., not only attended, but also took under their wing.
Exhibiting in the junior shows as well as management roles on the auction and livestock committees were the start of the family’s lifelong commitment to the American Royal. In 2004, the committees brought together a group of cattle families that evolved into a cast of characters that would shape the industry, create an environment for youth to flourish and even lend a hand to Brett and Sheryl who had kids showing livestock. The American Royal was the place where Brett & Sheryl met Neil Orth, Stanley E. Stout and Mike & Kay Hartman; individuals who were and now dear friends to the Clanton family and the reason for their involvement with the historic events.
In one short year, Brett and Sheryl quickly found their place as co-chairmen of the auction committee and held the position for six years. Sheryl is quick to say, “When you’re surrounded by your friends that all have the same passion for helping youth determined to excel within the livestock industry, volunteering isn’t work. From planning and executing the first exhibitor social in the back of a pick-up truck in the middle of the cattle barn serving all of the exhibitors, the American Royal has always had a special place for the us.”
Coming together as a cattle family is what the Clanton’s love most about this business and was half of the success of the American Royal. As chairman, Brett and Sheryl helped to evolve the livestock auction while Bailey and Cole simultaneously became more competitive in show rings throughout the country. Every fall the Clanton’s returned to the show ring they called home, in the heart of the stockyards. The American Royal is a short, 30-miles north of their operation, which made their home a hotel during those brisk, fall October days. Even if you weren’t staying at the house, you made sure to stop by on Sunday morning for a Bloody Mary with a kick and amidst the piles of boots at the door, the kitchen would be filled with energetic voices discussing the cattle and tired bodies sitting on the chairs.
Some of the fondest memories as a family involve the people that came together in 2004 for the auction and livestock committees. Reflecting through the years spent at the American Royal, Brett and Sheryl can still feel the excitement of being a part of the first grand champion steer bringing $125,000. Their son, Cole was selected champion out of the heavyweight division in 2006 with a steer name “Stanley.” The steer was named in memory of the family’s dear friend and American Royal icon, Stanley Stout, who they had developed a sincere friendship with since meeting at the American Royal just a few years prior.
There was a lot of enthusiasm that was created during Brett and Sheryl’s time at the American Royal while they led volunteer efforts and fundraising for the premium livestock auction. They laid the foundation for record-setting sales and a vibrant atmosphere for hundreds of youth to exhibit, market their animals and learn the sportsmanship of the livestock industry. The American Royal livestock auction heightened the competition in the show ring. The Clanton family takes pride in being part of building the livestock auction and contributing to a show revered as “where the best are shown”. As new families walk through the barns, they will see the determination and grit in the showmen and the quality of cattle running deep through each class. Their hope is for new exhibitors and their families to benefit from the experiences and opportunities the American Royal has to offer.
To this day, the Clanton family is now involved in the different aspects of the agriculture industry. Bailey and Cole carry on the servant tradition as they help the younger generations get a start in this industry. Bailey has been working for the American Hereford Association since graduation from Kansas State University in 2012. As the National Shows Coordinator and Youth Activities Assistant, she’s working with seedstock producers from across the country to facilitate national shows for the adult and junior associations. Bailey has found her way to working with the youth of the National Junior Hereford Association just as her parents did when she was young. Cole is the current Yard Operations Manager at Pine Landscape Center in Lawrence, Kan., he and his wife Allyson currently run 100 head of Simmental cows, selling around 30 head per year and exhibiting across the country.
The future of the American Royal is being met with excitement from the Clanton’s. The honored traditions of the stockyards in the historic West Bottoms of Kansas City will carry on with the new facility and offer new opportunities to support youth, promote agriculture and educate future generations about the livestock business. Walking into the new facility will be a different experience for the Clanton family. Shavings will be laid on freshly poured concrete, livestock will be tied up to new gates for the first time, new champions will be slapped in the show ring and new families will join the American Royal. However, throughout the new facility, a very similar cast of characters will come together to make a difference in the lives of young people. And from this familiar cast, the next generation will be taking the reigns. At the new American Royal, Cole and Allyson will be in the make ready area getting ready to exhibit their Simmental genetics, Bailey will be in the Hereford ring ensuring the Hereford show and sale run smoothly and as much as they may try to take a step back, Brett and Sheryl will continue to find themselves at the frontline, supporting efforts with the American Royal livestock show and auction.
Laurie: Hi, we’re here with Blake Nelson, the Executive Vice President of the American Maine-Anjou Association. So, tell me a little bit a bout your past and your history
Blake: I grew up in Oklahoma and came through the ranks of livestock judging and showing cattle as a youth. I didn’t show Maines, I actually showed some Chi’s and some other breeds of cattle. Then, I went through college livestock judging, at Conners State College, then Oklahoma State University. When I got through at Oklahoma State I got the opportunity to go back to Conners. There I taught Animal Science and a bunch of livestock judging teams for about 15 years. I got the opportunity when I heard that John Boddicker was retiring. John did a phenomenal job with the Maine-Anjou Association for 25 years. I talked to John and came on board. This will be my fourth year with the AMAA in August.
Laurie: We’ve enjoyed having you here. Tell us a little bit about the future and what we have to look forward to with the breed association.
Blake: Well, it’s an exciting time with American Maine-Anjou Association. We just finished up the Double Down in Des Moines Junior National. Without a doubt, youth are one of our major focuses. The kids that come on board, having an excellent youth director in Lindsey Broek, to me, that’s been one of the true highlights of this job. Getting to work with Lindsey on a day-to-day basis. In all of our activities at junior nationals, the little’s program, you guys have seen it, has been a big part of our success these past few years. Seeing that program grow, those kids getting more involved excites me knowing that our future is in good hands. The program is something that Lindsey initiated. Katie Miller, one of our past board members, that is off of the board now, teaches school and actually comes back every Summer to head that program. We couldn’t do it without her. That is a neat event.
Laurie: Our booth was next to the littles program this week. It was phenomenal. We are excited for the future, and we are excited to be in Ohio next year.
Blake: Yes! We’re going to Ohio, so were ready for that. Ohio is one of our largest junior associations here in the United States. Some great folks out there. We look forward to anytime going to a junior national, and there some of the best people to work with in the Maine-Anjou Breed.
“A View From The Best Seat In The House”
If you’re in the livestock business and you attend a state, regional or national sale or show, or you’re a cattle breeder and you purchase semen to artiﬁcially inseminate your cows or you just like to hang out on social media and catch up on what’s going on in the industry, and you don’t know or know of Kent Jaecke, you probably need to crawl out from under the rock you’re living under. He’s the guy with that unmistakable scream from around ringside at the sale, the voice over the public address system at a show, the one that pulls into your yard to offer genetics from Griswold Cattle Company or the guy in the G- hats and attire thats bringing you the view from the road, wherever and whatever part of the United States that he might be at the time on Facebook, Instagram or any various social media. Growing up on a commercial cow/calf operation in the Flint Hills of Kansas, Jaecke knew at a very early age that he loved being in front of a crowd, performing then on the baseball or football ﬁeld, basketball court, or in front of his peers at high school plays or in public speaking competitions with his FFA chapter. His time at his beloved Kansas State University only strengthened his love to perform in front of an audience through livestock judging, student government and the multiple other organizations that he actively participated through. “I’ve never been afraid to be in front of a crowd, it’s like a
drug to me, I love the rush of adrenaline I get being on stage”, Jaecke said. Building his business over the last 35 years in this industry has led to one of the best seats in the house to watch the livestock industry change, evolve, struggle and grow. “Everyday I am blessed to watch this great Livestock Industry from what I feel is the best view in the house”. says Jaecke, looking over his steering wheel logging over 80,000 miles a year, to being ringside or on the sale block at some of the best sales in America or behind the microphone in Freedom Hall on the “Green Shavings” as the public address announcer at the great North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky each November. “I have had a great opportunity to watch our industry evolve from the frame 4’s and 5’s in the late 60’s to the elephants of the 70’s, 80’s and the early
90’s and back to the more acceptable size, but adding more body and function.” Jaecke continues, “Not only have we had to adapt to every changing types and kinds, but the way we market our product has and is continuing to evolve through each generation”. A board member on the national Livestock Publications Council, he has watched the change in advertising and promotion of each producers product from the monthly and weekly
publications to more “Need It Now” information through the internet and social media. “I was reluctant to jump into the whole social media craze a few years ago, but have embraced it since, because there is no better way to build a brand for yourself or your company through effective social media practices.” Jaecke through his long relationship with John Griswold and Griswold Cattle Company, Stillwater, Oklahoma has become the face and voice
of building the Griswold Brand, the “G-“ through advertising, promotional literature and the constant use of social media. “When John convinced me to get on the road and offer his genetics door to door, it was a great opportunity to not only take his program to the people, but it was a great opportunity to build the Griswold “G-“ brand as well.” Jaecke can also be seen ringside or on the block making sale commentary at over 80 auction sales a year, from California to South Carolina, and from North Dakota to Texas and everywhere in between. Through these many events he has the fortune of meeting and forming great relationships with some of the best producers in the country in all breeds. Jaecke explained, “Not only do I get to meet some of the greatest people in the world, but it’s so fascinating watching their reactions during an auction”. Through these relationships, he is given a very broad perspective on the attitudes and direction to where the market is going and stated, “All the predictions and forecasts for our market can’t carry water, to the real world of standing in front of a
crowd at a sale, the look in their eyes will tell me so much more than anything I read about our markets”. Through all of this Jaecke’s most cherished and loved views he receives from our industry, it is from the chair he sits in, on the announcers stand each year at the North American in Louisville, Kentucky that gives him his greatest perspective. He has become “The Voice” of the show, and it is there that he feels most at peace and truly a passion and great love for our industry. “If you can’t ﬁred up about our business from where I sit in Louisville each fall,
then you don’t need to be in this industry”, he continued, “ The cattle themselves are truly amazing, but it’s the people that exhibit, attend and participate each year that make my job, more of an honor to serve”. “The view I am so fortunate to have each day of our business is true blessing, and I am so honored to work with and for some of the greatest people this
world has to offer.
Mark has known nothing other than the livestock industry. He’s been raised in it and has breathed every waking moment in it. Growing up with Dan Hoge has allowed him to learn from thee very best and to see for many years firsthand how incredible this industry is. He’s tagged along to livestock judging events at Black Hawk East College for as long as he can remember allowing him to be raised right alongside amazing, influential livestock leaders. All of the moments in his life revolve around raising and evaluating livestock. If you were to ask him he doesn’t remember any moments without livestock. In fact his greatest fear is not being around livestock. In addition to growing up learning how to evaluate livestock, he was able to raise livestock on his grandparents family farm in Walnut, Illinois. They raised every species there was and of course showed them too! The family spared nothing to make sure Mark was able be raised around all types of species. They never limited him in anything he did creating a person who is driven for the industry and knows no limitations for what is possible.
There was no doubt that this was the path Mark would take. Raising and evaluating livestock is his gift.
Mark went to Blackhawk East College followed by University of Illinois followed by masters at Iowa State University followed by PhD in genetics at Michigan State University. Professor at WIU advisor to the AGRs AND hoof and horn, WIU coach, judge raises hogs at home.
The livestock industry is Mark‘s passion. He is captivated by the industry. He won’t worry about how much time it takes or energy he just gives his all and sacrifices it all without a second thought. People that don’t know him don’t know this, but people that work with him for sure know, that Mark wants everyone to succeed around him. He wants to help them pursue their passion which in return allows the industry to be more successful. Anybody that’s passionate about something knows that when you love something so much you want to share that with others, he wants everyone to succeed and pushes them to be better. In return, he asks a lot of people. He pushes people to find strength that they weren’t taping into and therefore helps people grow in incredible ways. He would give anything to help anyone. He is very self less. He wants to pass on his passion to others. Being a professor allows him to do this.
Working with young adults is so important to him. He wants to help guide them, he loves talking with them and hearing their ideas and brainstorming. Although Mark has lots of years of experience he still wants to hear what others have to say. He knows in order to grow you can’t be one minded that you must listen to other people’s ideas and although some of these kids are 20 years old he still listens intently to what they have to say. He knows that in order to grow you can’t stop listening and learning from others around you.
I have never met someone that goes as hard as Mark. The only person that could really understand his lifestyle would be his family. And really his children don’t even know how hard he goes because they think this is the norm. I’ll never forget when we were building a barn Carter and Nolan couldn’t understand why the people weren’t working on Saturday and Sunday. It was unimaginable, out of reality to them that somebody was not working on a perfectly good day. I had to explain that most people don’t work Saturday and Sunday, they had never heard or witnessed such a thing and were taken back by this unthinkable concept.
Most things he does in one day people do over the course of a month. We can be going to two Junior nationals in two different species across the states, farrowing hogs at home, on top of judging a show because it is near the junior national, writing a reference letter, purchasing a plane ticket for a trip that occurs three days from the day and making it to a baseball game real quick. I don’t make this stuff up. Most people would say no, that’s too much going on, but Mark doesn’t know how to say no. He is without a doubt a living example of how to live every single moment to the fullest. That no minute can be wasted. That no minute can be sitting down. That no minute can be mediocre. That digging deep when you have nothing left to give is the only way to live. We aren't well rested people.
The thing that pains me the most is that people don’t think Mark has a plan for tomorrow or why he can't discuss his next week’s schedule. The problem is he can’t talk about tomorrow because his today plans don’t allow him to give tomorrow a thought. He has too much going on in one day that his schedule doesn’t allow him to think about anything but the exact moment he is currently in...and isn’t that the goal of life? To live in the moment. He does! He doesn’t waste one minute of the day. He goes hard every single minute of the day. Mark’s family is to be credited for this trait. They never limited Mark on what he could do. They pushed him and allowed him to do anything and everything he wanted to. If Mark believes with his heart that it’s a good step in the right direction, despite all of the difficulty that might come by taking that step, he’s taking it. No doubt. And let me tell you what I’ve been with him through all of his steps and I’ve never seen him going in the wrong direction. When I think he can’t do it, that it’s too much, he proves me wrong every single time. He always comes out on top.
His goals for family and the industry are simple and the same. Be better. Do more. This industry is so important to him it’s what raised him it’s what’s raising his family it's what he wants so badly for other families too. It’s his mission to make sure that as an industry and an individual person, we continue to make progress and we don’t become stagnant. Whenever you talk to him that’s what he wants to discuss making genetic progress. He wants to make sure that we aren’t influenced by trends and that the decisions we make are sound and just and that we are fair and kind and loyal to one another. He believes in picking the best one.
His ability to see things is staggering. The way he can think about the decisions of choosing an animal and breeding and raising and feeding hogs is mind blowing. It is every part of who he is and what sets him apart is he is willing to share this with others. There are many times I would like him to be at home with us, that would be so much easier, that would be better for me, but that wouldn’t allow him to share with others. I know that in order to be impactful you have to be able to share your gift with others and I’m lucky to have someone that is so worthy of sharing.
He enjoys doing things that people say cannot be done and will not be stopped by norms or boundaries. He will stop at nothing to positively impact the livestock industry. The scary thing is I know he has so much more to give and there just doesn't happen to be any more seconds left in the day that allows him to give any more than what he already is giving.
We are a family that doesn’t ever talk about our successes, ever. The goal has never been about winning a show, our goal is to raise unbelievably, industry-changing livestock that we believe in and working incredibly hard and when you have those two goals at the front of everything you do sometimes winning comes with it.
Dan and Deanna Hoge-
Where Mark Hoge got his personality is something we are still pondering but thoroughly enjoying. These things in no specific order would have influenced him in some way: Dan building a high ranking livestock judging team thus from little up, being surrounded by college age influences—want to be like them, Grandparents (Verden and Verna Lee Broers) that would listen, support and share their time in his life, livestock was raised and housed at “Grandpa’s Farm, an autistic (Asperger’s) sister –5 yrs. older with Mark being her best friend, a mother whose belief was “Whatever you enter into, you are expected to finish to the best of your ability.” So started his life at age 3----entered into tumbling because he needed to be social, he needed to be coordinated, and he needed to learn to line up! Competition in this started at age 5 and thus competition became a large part of his life in many forms as you will see.
As his sister, Kathy, was older, Mark was involved in the cattle show arena from an early age. Through his 4-H years Mark exhibited cattle, hogs, sheep, and western pleasure horse. He began speaking competitions as a Jr. High literary contestant. Formal livestock judging began in 7th grade with the Atkinson, IL, FFA coach Roger Carr who is now a highly successful FFA instructor and coach in Indiana. When joining FFA he became very active though the guidance of instructor Ron Alhorn, in livestock judging and Parliamentary Procedure—starting as a floor member and by his Jr. year was competing as a chairman and in his senior year was the Illinois state champion chairman.
In high school his extracurricular activities included football (tight end), basketball(center) and track (3200 and 1600) in which Mark excelled and was awarded multiple all-conference awards. To add to his personal development, he also played trumpet in band, marching band, and ensemble competitions (5 entries his senior year). Through his involvement in choir, Mark was a cast member of a school musical presentation all 4 years. Probably “Sonny” in the play Grease was his claim to fame.
Highlighting his early judging career, Cambridge FFA was the state livestock judging team that represented Illinois in Kansas City and was a top ten individual. Between his senior year and freshman at Black Hawk College, Mark was selected to the Illinois 4-H Livestock Judging team in which he was named high individual in the National 4-H contest in Louisville. At Black Hawk he was high individual at the National Barrow Show and the Houston Stock Show and Rodeo. At the senior college level at the University of IL, he was high individual at the National Western and finished his competitive career by winning the National Senior College contest in Louisville.
While working on his master’s degree at Iowa State, Mark was an assistant coach under Dr. Scott Greiner whose team was high team overall at the American Royal. Mark followed by coaching several highly successful teams. He finished his education at Michigan State University earning a PhD. I3n Animal Breeding. Mark joined the teaching faculty at Western IL University at Macomb, IL and serves as the livestock judging coach.
From this you can tell it takes many to encourage a youth to become the best they can be. As parents, we were so fortunate Mark had the abilities to take these paths. Hopefully this is carrying over as Mark continues to be competitive in many ways. But mainly he enjoys what he is doing and enjoying Katie and his children.
The Family Behind the Brand
Bar A Cattle Co., Schulenburg, Texas, started when Dave and Becky Allan got married, but the Bar A brand came from Mary and Dale Barber when Dave worked for Barber Ranch. Dave’s love for this industry started at an early age as he grew up in Nebraska showing Herefords and being very active in the Nebraska Junior Hereford Association having served as president in 1988.
Dave and his brother, Mark, started showing Herefords in in 1977. His first job after graduating from high school was working for Kevin Jensen, of Jensen Fitting Service, hauling 30-40 head to all the national shows around the country. In the early 90’s, he also worked for Adams Bros and Co. where he had two champion hereford bulls, one champion female and two champion carloads in Denver at the National Western, in three years. During that time he judged on the livestock team for Texas A&M University and then went on to graduate school at Michigan State University where he was the assistant livestock judging coach.
After college Dave moved to Dunlap Iowa to work for John Sullivan and manage Sullivan Limousin with his brother Mark. During this time he met his wife, Becky. Becky had just graduated from Texas A&M in Ag Development and she was working in Austin for Abbott Labs. Becky grew up as a military brat and lived in England, Australia, California , Virginia, Texas and Italy. The cattle business was a whole new world to her.
In 1999 they decided to move back to Texas where Dave did consulting and then eventually managed a stocker operation for several years in Schulenburg. In 2001 Dave and Becky started raising show steers and heifers. There were many successes in the club calf business, including raising the champion and reserve overall in Houston and the champion steer at OYE in Oklahoma City..
From an early age, Dave loved evaluating and breeding cattle, his vast experiences in different breeds and facets of industry led him to a real interest in judging cattle. He is fortunate to have judged all across the country from the green chips in Louisville, many shows at the National Western and most recently the Hoosier Beef Congress in Indiana. Some of his most memorable judging experiences have included judging with the late Bill Couch, and judging the Hereford and Angus Shows in Denver with his brother, Mark.
Becky’s passion has always been marketing and helping others create brand awareness and that led her to starting The Brand Company in 2001 doing promotional products for businesses and associations. She has been working with breed associations such as the American Hereford Association and the American Maine-Anjou Association well as many other agriculture businesses, farms and ranches with a focus on apparel and promotional products.
Dave and Becky have three boys, Tyler, Mason and Landry. Once the boys were old enough to show, they decided that the Hereford breed and the National Jr Hereford Association was where they wanted to be involved. The National Junior Hereford program is second to none and they feel very lucky that their kids are able to be involved in events such as the Faces of Leadership Conference and the Junior National Hereford Expo.
Tyler has had many successes, including winning all four age division in showmanship at the Junior National Hereford Expo. One of the proudest moments for the Allan family came this past year when both Tyler and Mason won senior and intermediate showmanship. This years junior national was one to remember having two division champions, two reserve division champions and overall reserve champion heifer .
The Allan boys are very active and have seen much success in and out of the showring. Tyler is now a freshman at Texas Tech majoring in animal science, Mason is a freshman in high school, plays basketball and baseball and really enjoys livestock judging, Landry, well he does a little bit of everything and keeps everyone laughing. Landry will start showing next year.
As a result of all the Hereford involvement, in 2012 Bar A decided to sell the club calf part of the business in an effort to expand the Hereford operation. Around this same time, the idea for GeneSource was born and Dave and Becky started down the path of marketing semen, which has been a great edition to the marketing mix at Bar A. Genesource is a multi breed semen distribution company. Dave enjoys talking with cattlemen around the country, whether it be the bull owners or the semen customers about their operations and what’s working for them.
The Allan’s said they feel blessed with all the success they have had, be it with customers cattle or Tyler and Mason’s projects, but the biggest blessing is all the time they have gotten to spend with the other families who have become their best friends.
Miller, an animal science senior at Oklahoma State University, won 2018 Overall High Individual Livestock Evaluator at The National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo.,The Fort Worth Stock Show And Rodeo, The Houston Livestock Show And Rodeo, The National Meat Animal Evaluation Contest in Lubbock, Texas, and the The North American Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky.
Miller is the most decorated individual in the history of competitive livestock evaluation. His 5-show run led the most successful livestock judging season in OSU history, and the second-most winning team of all-time.
“It’s a feat,” he said. “Livestock came naturally to me just because I grew up around it. But it’s also combination of having coaches that believed in me and were extremely talented, and my family, my community, and a support system that embraced what I was trying to do and pushed me forward.”
“It takes talent like his, drive like his,” said one coach, “and a little bit of luck.”
Miller grew up in Torringington, Wyo., helping with the family businesses: a commercial feedlot, and M Lazy Heart Ranch, a club calf operation with 300 head of Maine Anjou and crossbred cattle. He began competitive judging and showing through 4H and FFA, and M Lazy Heart often hosted collegiate teams on the ranch to practice livestock evaluation.
“From a young age, P.D. was making decisions about which calves he wanted to show,” said judging coach Taylor Frank, “and I think that teaches people a lot about livestock and how they change, important things to look for and what problems are severe. How he was raised, and what he was raised doing, molded him into who he was.”
Miller and his siblings raised and showed sheep, goats, swine and cattle throughout their 4H and FFA careers. M Lazy Heart was the foundation for success in the ring, but it was their parents that influenced their competitive style.
“Our parents were amazing examples for us,” said Miller’s sister, Paige. “They wanted us to be competitive, but they wanted us to be good people. P.D. is both.”
Miller knew he wanted a future in livestock evaluation a 9-years-old. After winning 21 consecutive cattle shows through 4H, he was buried in a class at the Colorado State Fair. That’s when Miller declared his determination to become the best.
“I walked out of the ring and told my parents ‘I want to be the person whose opinions matter in the show ring. Then I want to judge every major steer, heifer and hog show in the country.’ They said, ‘you can do it.’”
“I knew if I wanted to achieve that goal, I had to put my nose to the grindstone,” Miller said. “I had to be on competitive judging teams.”
He got his chance. He won the National FFA livestock judging contest in 2013 and was an All-American at the National 4-H Contest in 2012. His high school successes and a perfect GPA put him in the national spotlight as a top recruit, and not just in the eyes of agriculture. Miller passed on a football scholarship to University of Wyoming and committed to Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas to judge under head coach Arnold and assistant coach Taylor Frank.
Miller would win a national championship at Butler before going to OSU to judge under head coach Dr. Blake Bloomberg, four-time National Collegiate Coaches’ Association Coach of the Year, and assistant coach Kyndal Reitzenstein.
All coaches remember Miller’s outstanding resume secondary to his extraordinary drive.
“That kid wants it more than anybody else out there,” said Frank.
Ask the OSU judging team why Miller is a champion, and you’ll hear an impressive set of reasons. Some say it’s his eye — a unique ability to see livestock, with a perfect balance of objectivity and opinion. Others say it's his natural talent, his intelligence. But no matter who you ask, one word always places at the top of the class: drive.
“He’s a naturally talented stock person. He had the willingness to be the best, a unique talent, with a lot of drive to succeed,” said Dr. Bloomberg. “You could tell that he had the will to win.”
“He had drive, he had a competitive edge,” remembers Reitzenstein. “He had it all.”
Even with a lifetime of livestock knowledge, Miller had to adjust his delivery if he wanted to make history.
“Coming out of high school, I didn’t have the finesse of a lot of other kids,” remembered Miller. “I had to work at it, and get help. Taylor Frank helped me get my reasons polished. Marcus Arnold made me grounded. Kyndal helped me with flow and presentation, getting my words out but reigning back what I said. Blake Bloomberg was an incredible motivator and an awfully impressive stockman.”
Competitive livestock judging only allows two years of eligibility, split between junior and senior college. Between those years, the level of competition accelerates. Presentation becomes more influential in scoring at the senior collegiate level, and the ability to concisely and eloquently defend decisions in the ring separates the competitive from the elite. Brevity, voice quality, and confidence play a larger role. Miller had the latter in spades.
“He doesn’t lack confidence, that’s for sure,” said Arnold.
That confidence was tested on the road to a national championship. Livestock judging is 90 percent mental focus, 5 percent skill and ability, and 5 percent luck, according to Dr. Bloomberg. And luck wasn’t always on Miller’s side.
“I knew I could be the best, and it made me work harder. Once you get the feeling of winning, you never want to let it go,” Miller said. “I compare livestock judging to addictive gambling.”
After a standout, back-to-back senior college debut in Denver and Fort Worth, Miller lost at the 2018 Dixie National in Jackson, Miss. Miller placed 6th high individual, but his scores helped his team win the overall competition.
“Honestly, I thought it was the best thing to happen to him,” said Dr. Bloomberg. “When things are going so smoothly, sometimes a little ripple doesn't hurt. The loss allowed P.D. to refresh, hit the reset button, and remind himself that he’s human.”
Miller agreed, crediting the loss as a defining moment. He said the setback helped him learn how to overcome external chatter and internal pressure. Building that resilience set the stage for winning where it mattered most: Louisville.
“Winning consistently takes a lot of inner thought, and belief in yourself,” Miller said. There’s going to be people who doubt you, who say you can’t do it again. And you have to overcome those fears within yourself.”
“I worked, and wrestled with myself. And I came back to win.”
Miller’s coaches say his outstanding motivation, and laser focus, sets him apart from competitors.
“Some kids can get discouraged, and losing wears on their mental toughness,” said Arnold. “But P.D. had a competitive mental focus that you don't see in a lot of students.”
Frank agreed. “You can put as much pressure on him as you want, and he’ll continue to perform.”
Ask about Miller beyond the ring and you get mixed reactions — snorts, giggles, a grumble or two. But you certainly get a response. His star-quality talent, and courage to face failure, earned Miller a leadership role on livestock teams and the loyalty of friends-turned-family.
“P.D. has a bold personality and a bold spirit,” said Arnold. “He has weaknesses. But he stays open, and willing. And his ability to be open, to be humble, and to work together with his teammates — that’s what makes him a champion.”
Miller’s coaches and teammates remember Miller’s wit, heart, and generosity as two-fold and unconditional.
“Everyone would love to have P.D. on their team,” Frank said. “He has a big heart, and he loves people. He would do anything for anybody. He cares about everybody. If you called him right now because your tire is flat, he wouldn’t ask questions. If you wanted to talk cattle, he’d tell you everything he knows.”
“And he’s a lot of fun to have in the van,” he laughed.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
Miller will graduate from OSU in May 2019. His next chapter is undecided, but like most things to do with Miller, there are plenty of opinions.
“Coaching,” Frank said.
“I think he’ll go back to the family farm,” said Reitzenstein.
Ask Miller and he admits he isn’t sure. He’s still celebrating senior year, and reflecting on an incredible run. He tosses out a couple ideas — pursuing a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition and assistant coaching, or going home to the family business. He likes the idea of coaching and helping kids. He’s a little tired of school, he laughs.
Bloomberg has his own take.
“I don’t know what the future holds for P.D., but I know he’ll have a lot of options to do what he wants. Somebody with his ability and his talents can write their own chapter. If he decides to go back to the family farm, he’ll be successful. If he decides to coach, he’ll have success. He’s the kind of kid, like so many that come through our program, who can write their own history. “
Byline: Jessica Willingham
It is no secret that people from all over the country travel to Louisville each year for their time on the green chips. While we all appreciate the show and industry in the present, it is important to recognize the people behind the events, genetics and traditions we all cherish. Jack Ragsdale is a matriarch of the livestock industry. Last year in the busy main aisle at the North American International Livestock Expo, we had the privilege of being able to sit down with Jack and learn his story. Now, at the age of 92, he continues to share and inspire us with his experiences and impact on the industry as we know it.
Born with a love of animals, Jack spent his Summers at his Uncle and Aunt’s farm outside of Franklin, Indiana starting at the age of nine in 1935. There were no modern conveniences and church was a big deal. His family had three teams of work horses, they worked slow and it wasn’t always easy; but according to Jack, “…it was great.” Jack was excited when he was finally old enough to stay overnight at the local county fair where they slept in the loft over the hog pens. From the practical jokes he and his friends played on each other to the overall experience, it was always a highlight of the year.
Jack’s love for the industry was rooted as a young boy and continued to grow on into college and the rest of his life. He attended Franklin College, but only got a semester in before he was called to serve our Country at the age of 18. After his time in the service, Jack returned to school and continued his college career at Purdue. He was an active member of his Collegiate Livestock Judging Team where he was highly successful. In 1948, Ragsdale was named High Individual at the Chicago Stock Show Livestock Judging Competition. Not only did they have to evaluate cattle, hogs and lambs, draft horses were also a part of the 12 classes and 8 sets of reasons. Jack, to this day, remembers every last detail from his big win in Chicago. He explained how he averaged a 48.6 on reasons (including a couple 50s) and had the highest score of all-time. A record of which stood for several years after. For Jack, it was a true honor years later when he was asked to officiate the same contest that he won years prior alongside J.C. McLean and Walter Lewis.
His time as a judge, however, did not end with college. Jack Ragsdale has judged shows from California to New York, as well as Internationally. His biggest honor was judging the World Shorthorn Show in Argentina where they had to use an interpreter for reasons.
The Shorthorn breed has always been a passion for Jack. Having served as a past President of the American Shorthorn Association, he has worked for or with many premier Shorthorn breeders. Jack actually imported one of the first females from Australia to the United States. She was flown in by airplane and had to make a pit stop in Hawaii before landing in Texas.
Jack was one of the men highly instrumental in the foundation of the show beloved for its green chips, the North American International Livestock Exposition. With the Chicago Stockyards gone in the fire, it left a void in the industry for another major Stock Show. The NAILE was given $50,000 from the State of Kentucky to host the first show in Louisville, Kentucky. There were five breeds of cattle included in the inaugural North American – Angus, Polled Herefords, Horned Herefords, Charolais and Shorthorn. Over the years, sheep, hogs, quarter horses and dairy were implemented into the show. The NAILE has host exhibitors from 48 states and Canada. In addition to serving as the Beef Cattle Chair, Jack was the Chairmen of the Board for the NAILE Executive Committee. His background and passion for the industry has helped mold the show to what it is today.
Jack Ragsdale’s impact on the industry was evident as our meeting with him in Louisville was interrupted kindly numerous times by fellow members of the livestock industry – just to say hello and give a kind word or share a memory. When asked about his life, he raves about his wife of 70 years, Ruthanne, his family and says, “it’s been a lot of fun.”
Picture a 7-year-old kid standing beside the show ring watching a group of young men and women walking around the show ring wearing a maroon jacket. What do you think that child is thinking? Probably something along the lines of, “Man, I can not wait to wear one of those jackets.”. Wondering what path our show careers will take is something every child dreams of, but once our show careers are over, we all look back and think about all the great times, the rough times, and even the moments that were more of a life lesson than anything else. My name is Becca Moore and I am going to fill in all the blanks between the beginning and the bitter sweet ending of one of the most amazing journeys a child can embark on, a livestock show career.
I was that kid standing ring side wondering where life would take me and if I was going to get to experience the maroon jacket. For us, my brothers and I, it all started at home where our father shared his love for cattle with each of us. Ethan, the oldest, began his journey and developed a love for cattle just as powerful as our fathers. From there it spread like wildfire. Our week nights turned into evenings at the barn and our weekends were then filled with any and every cattle show. The Buck family became our second family and then before long the Maine-Anjou family became our greatest blessing. Through our journey I have learned many different life lessons. First off, no one can do it alone. We had an army, and I am not just talking about the six of us Moore kids. Second, you learn that it is important to listen. I cannot tell you how many coaching sessions or “team meetings” we had over the years. Third, it takes hard work to be in this industry and become successful. It was not just the hard work of the exhibitor, but the whole family, show crew, and every other person behind the scenes. Last but not least, the journey is fun. In all the hard work and the hustle and bustle we all still found time to joke and laugh together.
Ever since the beginning we have had an army working behind each of us Moore kids. If it was not our dad there, it was Jirl Buck. The times our mom needed an extra hand, Brenda Buck was right there putting us all in line. Bailey Buck was the first sister I had ever had. With our crew and the Buck crew working together, everything ran just as good as a well oiled machine. Through the years we have added more people to our show family and have seen some really great friends go off on their own incredible journeys. Each of the families or people placed in our lives along the way played a small part in the big picture of my brothers and I’s show career. We were lucky enough to grow up in the Maine-Anjou family and then later in our careers be welcomed with open arms to the Hereford family as well. It is not always just the people, but the cattle become apart of our family too. If you are reading this and you are new to our world, just wait and see because these associations and the family that you will join will amaze you and change your life for the better.
Over the years we think we get to where we know everything, but of course there will be those people there to remind you that you do not. Listen to them, because they will teach you more than you believe. My brothers and I had some extraordinary teachers within this industry. Between our father, Jirl Buck, the Maine-Anjou and Hereford family, and the whole crew through the years, we have been coached, pushed, and corrected constantly. Without the lessons and the team meetings, the older generations are not able to pass down what they learned from their experience. Listen to them, even when it is not as easy, because the lessons learned will help form and shape your show career for the better. Not to mention the lessons learned may help someday when you are teaching them yourselves.
Winning is not everything, but it is fun to experience and achieve such high honors. Through the years it has taken a lot of hard work for my family to achieve the honor of joining the champion circle. None of it was done alone. The work does not happen at the show, it begins at home in your barn. I can remember back to being a young girl and everyone spending their Saturday and Sunday mornings at the barn putting the cattle up. Just to return that evening to feed and turn out. The water fights, the laughs, the fights that took place were just a bonus to the work. Everyone’s opinion mattered when it came to checking up on the progress of each of the show heifers. Our father, Jirl buck and Matt Scasta were always around giving extra advice on what needed to be fed what or how we needed to work their hair extra special to get it to grow before the big show. Without the hard work put in and the help and encouragement for everyone around, our family would not have been able to achieve as much as we have during each of the six of our show careers.
Showing cattle may be a lot of work, but the fun you have will out weigh the work. This life is busy and can get a little stressful at moments, but there is always time for laughter. I can remember after every big Junior Nationals, we would end the show with a huge water fight. The whole barn would join in to celebrate the ending to a great week. The friends each of us Moore kids have made over the years will easily last a lifetime. One of my own personal favorite memories is when I had the opportunity to wear the great maroon jacket along-side Bailey. Friends are a big piece to the puzzle that make this industry so special. It may get to where you only get to see your livestock friends at national shows, such as Denver or Fort Worth, but it is always something for each of us to look forward too.
In the end, the journey made will last a lifetime. Our livestock showing careers have been extraordinary and the families and friends made throughout it are the icing on the cake. Many times we forget to remember the big dreams that we had as a young child, and to think that those dreams actually came true is astonishing. Getting the opportunity to be the teacher and not the student in showmanship or even my brothers being the ones to teach young dreamers how to run some clippers is a sight to see. Overall, I am thankful for my family and the people that have stood behind us throughout the journey of each of our show careers. For now, the pictures will help remind us of all the good times that we had throughout the last twenty years of growing, learning, and laughing together within one of the greatest industries.
Pembrook Cattle Company
Positioned at the edge of the Gloss Mountains, in Northwest Oklahoma, near the town of Fairview is Pembrook Cattle Company, Owned and operated by Travis and Beth Pembrook. The Pembrook’s carry on the same tradition of raising quality Cattle on the same land that Travis’s family originally homesteaded.
Travis and Beth’s story doesn’t start here though. The couple both grew up in the registered seed stock industry., Travis with registered Angus in Oklahoma and Beth with registered Limousin cattle near Lexington Kentucky. Both grew up as active members of their breed associations and showed cattle and also helped promote their families’ operations at events all across the United States.
It didn’t take long for both Travis and Beth to develop a deep passion to continue their careers in an industry that had given them so much. Still not knowing each other at the time, the two started helping some of the larger purebred seed stock operations across the country, mostly working on show cattle and helping exhibit cattle at State Fair’s and all the big national shows.
In 1995 the Pembrook’s finally met when Travis went to Lexington Kentucky to help with some Limousin show cattle at an operation managed by Beth’s father. At that time Beth was in charge of the show and sale cattle there. As you can imagine the rest was history from there.
Fast forward to 1996, and Travis and Beth were married and had serious aspirations of building their own program. The couple both knew in order to do this they needed a place to settle and land for cattle. After visiting with family, they learned that the same family land that Travis grew up on in Oklahoma could also be available to them. Together they both decided to make the move from Kentucky to Oklahoma and it was also a unanimous decision between the two that their main objective would be to raise and market Registered Angus cattle.
Once back in Oklahoma, the couple took over helping manage the Angus cattle that had already been put in place years ago by parents and Grandparents along with adding fresh genetics purchased mainly from bigger Angus herds throughout Montana. In addition to raising Angus cattle, the couple also decided to use the talents they had gained over the years working on show cattle to start a custom fitting service that would get cattle ready for shows and sales for other operations across the country. Within two years the custom fitting business had gotten bigger than the two could have ever imagined. There were times when the two had more than 80 head that had been sent in from all across the U.S and Canada. The cattle that came in were to be shown at State Fairs and all the big shows like the American Royal, North American, and National Western. Many of the cattle that came in were also slated to be sold at the Winter beef expos as well. While exhibiting at these shows the Pembrook’s say they were extremely blessed to have multiple national champions in several different breeds as well as work for and learn from some of the greatest minds in the cattle business. The Pembrook’s also add that many of the people that they were working for were teaching them valuable lessons in marketing and breeding cattle as well. Along with family, Travis and Beth feel like they have to mention a few of the people that contributed to much of their success, people like Dan May, Bill Couch, Jim Williams, Donnie Robertson and Kirk Stierwalt just to name a few. The Pembrook’s both say that they have gained valuable knowledge over the years from people like this, that were always willing to spend a little extra time and share the skill sets that they had developed. People like this they say has contributed greatly to the overall success of Pembrook Cattle Company.
While the custom fitting was in full swing, Travis and Beth were also increasing their Angus cowherd numbers along with starting to have sales of their own as well. Their breeding cattle operation had started to grow and was starting to over shadow the custom fitting business. The Pembrook’s were starting to market a lot of cattle and the cattle were going out and winning at numerous shows around the country. Travis and Beth contribute much of this success not only to the cattle but even more so to being blessed by getting the cattle they raise and market into the hands of wonderful people. People they say, Instill the same values of hard work, family and most importantly God in their children just like they grew up with and try to instill in their two boys as well. This is what led to one of their current ad slogans of, Putting Good Cattle into the Hands of Great People. Both Travis and Beth contribute any success they have had over the years to the people that have been placed in their lives.
As Pembrook Cattle Company has grown the importance of partnerships and COOPs has been key in helping sustain that growth. Many of these have been formed with customers and involve using the genetics they have purchased from PCC and successfully shown and promoted over their years. This has not only been a good fit for helping customers generate income but has also helped the Pembrook operation meet their needs of needing more cattle to fill their market. One key partnership the Pembrook’s mention that has been great for their program is their partnership with Scott and Shanna Standridge in Arkansas. The Standrige’s started out like many, purchasing cattle from Pembrook Cattle for their three children and as the years went by the Standridge’s had a pasture full of previous champions whose genetics needed to be used and taken advantage of. The Standridge’s now provide many of the Red Angus, Simmental, and Angus that are offered in various PCC sales throughout the year.
Today, Travis and Beth along with the two most important additions to ever come along at PCC, Bret age 10 and Bryson 4, have four sales a year. A production sale on October 20, the Holiday Lights Sale in December, a bull sale the end of March, along with selling cattle in the Texas Limited Edition sale also the end of March. Together the family also hosts three small group cattle camps at PCC during the summer months that help train youth and their parents in the basic skills of show cattle selection, preparation, nutrition, and showmanship.
Both Travis and Beth have a strong passion for working with the youth of the livestock industry and passing down the skills that have been given to them. The pair also feel blessed to be raising sons Bret and Bryson in a setting that teaches so many real-life skills on a daily basis. In working with Ag Youth on a daily basis the Pembrooks can’t help but be excited and optimistic to see the changes and progress that the future generations bring to our industry. The couple believe we are in good hands.
My first memory of Dave Duello was over 30 years ago. He was judging a prospect steer show, and at that time he was just out of college. In no time, he was judging every major cattle show in the country. Dave has one of the most dominating voices I have ever heard over a microphone and his ability to sort cattle is second to none. He has a way of captivating the audience and describes the cattle in real world terms, in my opinion, he is the best. Over the years I have been fortunate to watch Dave Duello become successful in many different phases of this business. Not many in this industry have made the many tracks he has and have achieved success in all of it. Most people in this business associate the name “Duello” to cattle judge, however, if you ever stop in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming you will see quite a breeding program and an extremely well managed cattle operation. He is the kind of guy that doesn’t expect you to always agree with his opinion, and he will always respect your opinion as well. But, at the end of the day he will do what he wants to do! I am blessed to call Dave Duello my friend, he has a heart of gold and he is a man of his word.
"Few people have as much passion for what they do as Dave Duello, not just for the business but for the simple love of livestock."
Dr. Chris Skaggs
I was involved with the livestock judging programs at Kansas State, Iowa State and Texas A&M universities for 26 years and without question, Dave Duello was one of the most talented livestock judges with whom I worked. His eye for detail and ability to describe animals were unsurpassed and contributed to his success in the reasons room where he was high individual in reasons at both the American Royal and North American International contests, a rare feat. His success at Louisville resulted in his team garnering national championship honors in 1986. His passion for the cattle industry is obvious and continues today in his quest to raise high quality, genetically superior, functional cattle.
Dave and I met the first day we moved into the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity at Iowa State and have been close friends ever since. I remember crossing paths with him in the stairway moving our furniture in and Dave calling me by name. I was shocked at the time that he knew who I was, but it didn’t take long once we started on the judging team to realize he has a God given ability to retain information that is simply hard to comprehend. While watching Dave sort the National Junior Maine show this summer I was reminded that few if any that have ever held a mic can take the command of a show ring like he can. The powerful voice, convincing tone and impeccable accuracy in combination puts him in the legendary category. That being said what I appreciate the most about Dave is his loyalty as friend. Underneath that stoic exterior is a man with a huge heart for those that he cares for… and for that Deb, myself, Bailey and Kennedy are very thankful that he is a big part of our lives.
My name is Sara Sullivan and I am a 16-year-old from Dunlap IA. I started showing cattle at 6 years old, my first show heifer was a roan Shorthorn named Strawberry, that I loved going to the barn to wash, brush and practice showmanship on. The first and only show strawberry and I attended was the bucket calf show at our county fair which we won. I realized then that this could be something I liked, not because of the win but because of the sense of comradery between all the families at the show, people I had never met wishing me good luck which for a 6-year-old is a cool feeling. That initial feeling became more prominent as I became more involved and my knowledge of the industry grew. Now I can’t picture my life without the lessons, memories and friends that this industry has allowed me to have.
One of my best memories happened a few years ago. My friend, Madison and I were letting out heifers one night, it began down pouring and the wind kicked up like crazy. We started kicking out as we usually would besides becoming soaked from the storm. But in the midst of all the chaos, we realized that we had mixed up the pen numbers and each heifer was one pen ahead of where they should be. We spent an extra half hour in the pouring rain fixing our mistake while goofing off and cracking jokes. What seemed like a small disaster at the time quickly became a funny memory Madison and I now share.
Other than working on my calves and being at school, I love hanging out with my friends, reading, traveling and snow skiing with my family. Another thing I’m very passionate about is volunteer work. I’ve spent a good amount of time volunteering at an elementary school library, welcoming home veterans from their Honor Flight, and various duties at my church, my favorite being decorating for the holidays. And, most recently, I traveled to Peru for a service project.
My trip to Peru now feels like a dream. I spent ten days with eighteen other girls helping the local community it Cuzco, Peru. One of the things we did was visit elementary aged children at their school. We made them lunch, gave them a ton of toys and played with them for hours. In addition to our school visit, we also built a greenhouse for a local family that allowed them to be self-sustainable and to create an income for them to send their two children to school. It took us long days and many hours of working together to mix mud, make the 30 lb. bricks and stack them to make walls. The highlight was seeing the family so happy. It was very emotional for us all and an extreme eye-opening experience for me. It made me realize the importance of helping others and how fortunate we are.
As for my future goals, I still have some time to think about that. I have contemplated going into our family business, Sullivan Supply. I want to keep my options open and I know this industry can take me far when it comes to my future.
Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me throughout the years. Everyone at Sullivan Farms have all supported me and taught me so much, especially Nate Tice. He has been a great influence ever since I first stepped into our show barn. And I really look up to my cousin, James Sullivan. He has been a great mentor since I was very small. Most of all I would like to thank my mom and dad for giving me the opportunity to be involved in showing cattle and for everything they have done for me. Every day I am thankful for what the livestock industry has taught me about work ethic, perseverance and dedication. I am grateful for these life skills.
The Walker Family of Prairie Grove, Arkansas are a special family. We have had the opportunity to watch them grow up showing from the time they started. Not only have they found success in the ring including Supreme Female at the American Royal, numerous breed champions across the country, multiple junior national wins and Champion Heifer and High Individual Overall Judging at Blackout 6, they are great people. They help others and give back. Willow Springs has become one of the most well known cattle companies in our industry. Congratulations to the Walker family on being our latest Hall of Fame members! - The Reid Family •
If someone would have asked me 40 years ago what I would be doing today, I am sure the answer would not have been what it turned out to be. I am one of four kids that were blessed with parents who instilled strong Christian values. My dad farmed and had a small angus cow herd. Mom made her career in the field of cosmetology. We lived in a small rural town in S. E. Alabama with a population of 3,000.
Outside of the farm and cattle, dad’s other love was baseball. From the time my brother and I could stand up, we had a bat and a ball in our hands. This is how we passed the time of day. We didn’t play with toys or watch T.V. We played pitch outside until it was dark. When mom called us in to eat supper, we took the game inside. When I turned 8 years of age, dad introduced me to showing cattle. From the beginning I enjoyed spending time at the barn. I wanted to learn all I could about my steers, and most of all I loved to brush. I’m certain dad knew I would like it. Unlike my brother’s personality, I was detail oriented, a perfectionist, and had all the energy in the world.
A couple of years later, dad took me to Louisville for the North American. The experience was absolutely amazing. The one thing that fascinated me more than any other was the amount of hair many of the cattle had. I left there determined to make the hair on my steers like that. Dad explained to me some of the things that might make it difficult for me to achieve this. First and foremost was the heat and humidity that was part of living in the deep south.
Dad added fans and misters to make the barn better equipped to grow hair. These things certainly helped, but it still couldn’t achieve what I was looking for. This is when we decided to call in reinforcements. Mom was the one person I knew that had extensive knowledge of hair. She went to work on it and a short time later I was given a quart spray bottle filled with a hair conditioning mixture. I had no idea what it was, but I was willing and able to try it. For the first time I began seeing noticeable improvement. This was the very first formula of what has evolved into ShowCoat. Over the past 30 years, the formula has been altered many times. As research led to new advancements in human hair loss prevention and treatment to cure Alopecia, mom made sure the formula was updated. For several years we used the products ourselves and would give some to friends and families that purchased a steer or heifer from dad.
Once I started college, I didn’t have time to stay involved with the livestock. As an athlete, all of my time was spent playing, practicing, and with studies. I enjoyed every minute of it but I missed being involved with the cattle. Dad continued to produce a few good steers each year, and I tried to find time to attend a show on occasion. After graduation, I began working with Owens Corning, a leading building materials manufacturing company. I used this as a stepping stone to start my own custom home building company. This also allowed me to move back home where the farm was.
On May 31, 1997, I married my amazing wife Kellie. She and I have three kids; Conner, Mary Grace, and Banks. Kellie is an incredible mother that has dedicated her life to our family and loves our kids to no ends.
As a Christian, I believe God has a plan for each of us. God placed Kellie in my life because he knew the time would come when our family would need a strong person to take control and to have the ability to multi-task on a whole different level. For our family this time was July 18, 2008. On this day not only was my future changed, but our family was changed. God had another plan for us. The day began just as all others, but the ending was drastically different. At the time I was building a home for a family on their farm. The farm was located in a rural area and approximately an hour from the closest town. Because of its location, I would take my lunch with me and would not leave until dark every day to get the most work done possible. After eating lunch that day, for some reason I felt the urge to leave early and go home. When I walked in the house, Kellie was shocked I was already home. We stood in our kitchen discussing supper plans when suddenly I collapsed. I had suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Kellie sent Conner into the neighborhood looking for help. As he passed through the neighbor’s yard he came across a group of cars parked in the street. A couple had just arrived and as they exited their car Conner asked if they could help. The gentlemen just happened to be a doctor. He followed Conner back to our house and immediately started CPR. Several minutes had passed and I had been deprived of oxygen for an extended time. When the ambulance arrived, they began working to restart my heart. They were successful and were able to begin transporting me to the hospital. I coded two more times while in route to the hospital. Upon arriving I was placed in a coma and the diagnosis was not good. Kellie was informed of my brain activity and the problems that were associated with my oxygen deprivation. She was told that if I woke up the chances of me being the same as before was highly unlikely. Kellie told me of the overwhelming support she received from our family and friends. Our church asked its members to pray for me and every individual left their seat and approached the pulpit hand in hand and began to pray. We later found out other area churches prayed in a similar manner. God had a plan and, in His time, I woke up.
This year will be the 10th anniversary of my incident. I am reminded often of the many blessings I have been given. I have been able to watch my kids grow into young adults, attend high school graduations, and our youngest Banks was able to get to know his dad.
Yes, I still have disabilities that will remain with me as a result of the oxygen deprivation. I am unable to work as I did before, but Kellie refused to allow me to accept I could no longer do anything. She encouraged me to find something to do each day that had a purpose. With her help I dedicated my time to researching ways to improve mom’s formula. With mom’s help, I had access to information. With the assistance of my personal Neurologist more contacts were made. Over the past seven years, the research has brought about the process required to procure our PCT Compound. This became the key ingredient needed to enhance cell regeneration on a molecular level. Our continued research has brought about additional uses for the compound. We have proven its effectiveness for treating alopecia and for minimizing hair loss on individuals who must undergo chemo treatments.
This was God’s plan for me all along. My passion for showing cattle wasn’t about increasing hair growth on my steer. It was the vehicle God used to enable me to reach out to others in need. •
How many families do you know that can breed one, take care of one, market one and show one all at the highest level? The Aegerter’s can and they are some of the best people in this industry! Could not respect how they operate and compete any more!
- John Sullivan
Darla Aegerter is no stranger when it comes to the cattle industry. For the past several years she has played a key role in the planning and executing of the Junior National Hereford Expo (JNHE) as well as many other Hereford shows and events through the year. From fundraising and organizing events throughout the week of the JNHE, to taking thousands of pictures at the different backdrops across the country, Darla has certainly become a key member of not only Team Hereford but a very valuable member the the Hereford family.
- Bailey Clanton
My name is Mikala Grady I’m from Grandview, Texas and I am sixteen years old. My parents are Brad and Misty Grady and I have two brothers the oldest is Braden and my younger brother is Mason. They all have contributed to my success in ways I cannot repay them.My parents have been the main attribute in my success and I cannot thank them enough for everything they have instilled in me throughout the years and the love and supports that they show me everyday. They are the whole foundation of all my success and I cannot thank them enough for providing me with great animals and for preparing me for life through these industries.My oldest brother Braden started showing and that’s what started the background of my interest in showing. He showed goats and lambs and was very successful over the years. My little brother Mason isn’t quite old enough to show at Texas majors but has shown at Louisville twice. He started to show pigs a couple of years ago in Louisville, but it wasn’t until this year where he had a taste of success with Reserve Poland and Reserve Berkshire.
My background for showing started with pigs my third grade year and now I’m a sophomore in high school. Jay McCormick has also been very influential to my show career in the pig barn throughout the years and has helped me capture a lot of success throughout the years. But,it wasn’t until 2014 where I had a pig that we thought really had a shot of winning the whole show. I took my pig “Malibu”to The Houston livestock show where my biggest dream had finally came true and I had won the biggest barrow show in the country. Malibu was the one of the greatest ones to ever walk and that experience with that pig was one I still consider to be one of my greatest accomplishments. I can still recite the key words that made a legacy for me.“This one is an American Bad Boy he was born to be a champion and I’ll go slap him.” Right then I knew all the early mornings and late nights were well worth it and that I could accomplish anything I had ever wanted if I worked hard. It gave us momentum to hang another banner in 2015 with not just pigs either. Ft. Worth was very good to us in 2015 with my older brother Braden showing the Grand Champion goat. Then two weeks later I would show the Grand Champion Pig. It was a surreal moment for my family and everyone involved and being able to do it along side my brother who led my family into showing livestock made it that much more special. That year at Ft. Worth I also showed my first steer at a Texas major and little did I know how far I would come over the years. In the beginning of 2016 we didn’t see much success ,but as the year progressed some people came into my life that would allow me to be very competitive in the pig and steer barn. Bobby and Mandi Maddox, Nattee Hood Jarred Hobbs,Tommy Meek, Zack Curry and over the past year Taylor Johnson. They have all contributed to my success in ways I cannot explain and never will be able to repay them for. It takes a whole team to be successful and to perfect each angle of the operation and it takes a group of people perfectly matched to have a great time doing everything together.It’s been a great journey the past year and I cant wait to share some of my favorites memories on the road. This past year was the first year we were together as a team and it has gone quite well. I showed at Dallas and won a class, third in class at Kansas City, and was second in class at Louisville. We had Phoenix next and decided to take our Louisville steer, Ziggy to Phoenix along with two others. Ziggy would later go on to win Phoenix and I couldn’t think of a better steer to hang my first banner in he steer barn with. It was a great feat for everyone involved for it being the first banner we had hung as a team. Little did we know that the rest of the year would be just as amazing. Denver would be next on the agenda and I would both show pigs and steers. We knew that we had a good steer and also two gilts that we thought would be very competitive in the pig show. But, it is still hard to believe that we came out of Denver with Reserve Grand pig and Reserve Grand steer and also having reserve middleweight with my pig. Needless to say Denver was very good to us and it is one of my greatest accomplishments. At this point we didn’t think it could get any better but, it just kept getting better from then on out. Ft. Worth would be the next show and with it being thirty minutes from my house it’s a very special show to my community and everyone involved when a local wins. It was nothing short of a dream come true not only because it is the most prestigious show in the nation but, also winning it along side of my best friend really topped it off. We both came from the pig barn starting out and to gravitate towards the steer barn around the same time and to be Grand and Reserve at Ft. Worth was very surprising. Their is nothing quite like the atmosphere in Ft. Worth when you win the press is right there, Del Frisco’s tops the night off with everyone who got you there in the same room, the sale the next day along with a interview and press conference. They really make it a once in a lifetime experience for us kids. After Ft. Worth we proceeded to win Austin which would lead me to the first time I have ever shown in a rodeo for the Grand drive. Over the summer we went to many jackpots and did very well. I grew better as a showman and had to learn how to adjust to a new set of steers. It’s been a fun show season so far with being Reserve Grand at our first outing of the season in Dallas with one of my favorite steers. The past two months have been nothing short of a dream come true with winning Kansas City a very prestigious show in its own right along with Louisville a couple weeks later. Louisville is one of my favorites along with my family’s because we run thoroughbreds and have some at Churchills training track “The Spectrum” and we get to see them work in the mornings and occasionally see one run. Just this past May we had a horse named Girvin run in the Kentucky Derby, he didn’t do as well as we had hoped, but the ride he took us on throughout the Derby was truly a dream come true for everyone involved. Throughout the show in Louisville I had Girvins trainer Joe Sharp along with his wife Rosie Napravnik, and their two boys come to watch me. Along with Girvins jockey Robby Albarado and his family stop by to come see my family and I. It’s pretty neat to have support from many different industries. Louisville is just a really special place with the connection we have with horses and now having won the steer show there. With that being said horses have always been my calling and I want to pursue that and become a vet focusing mainly on Thoroughbreds and also traveling the country and working on the elite tracks. But, as of know my goal is to win every major livestock show in the country in both the pig and steer barn, and a goal to think about right now with having two legs of the triple crown down is winning Denver. It’s been a goal of mine for awhile, it’s not going to be easy but, I am determined to meet the goal of winning all majors in my the respected barns I show in before I graduate. Then to have a shot at the triple crown for the steers is truly an honor and I hope it capture that and make history. Throughout my career so far I have won seven majors, five in the steer barn and two in the pig barn. I have also been Reserve Grand three times, twice with steers and once with pigs. It’s been a great year by it self winning five majors and being reserve at three, and Girvin winning the grade one Haskell Invitational, grade two Louisiana Derby and running in the Kentucky Derby. My family, my team and I have been blessed by this year more than words can describe! We have had a lot of success. But all in all these industries have made me the person I am today and I cannot repay it for the people it has brought into my life, the life lessons, and the friendships it has given me. Thank you to everyone who has made me successful and who has contributed to my wins. I thank God everyday for this life he has given me, and the great people he has surrounded me with!
Charles W. Herbster
Charles W. Herbster, owner of Herbster Angus Farms, loves rural America.
Passionate about agriculture, politics and business, Charles goes “all in” when involved with any endeavor. He learned early in life if you do what you love, invest your time and efforts in what you know and work hard, great things will happen.
Herbster Angus Farms in Falls City, Nebraska, was homesteaded in 1847 by Charles' great-great-grandfather, William McKendry Maddox. Through the Depression and the Dust Bowl, the Maddox family cared for the land. Charles’ grandmother, Leta Meyers Carico, granddaughter of William Maddox, was an integral part of the farm’s operation from the early 1900s and throughout Charles’ life. Charles’ heritage runs deep in Nebraska agriculture.
Leta Meyers Carico was Charles’ first teacher and mentor. A savvy businesswoman, she taught Charles the basic economics of agriculture and nurtured his entrepreneurial spirit as well as his faith. Growing up on the family dairy, Charles learned the value of a hard day’s work. He watched Grandma Carico invest countless hours managing the Holstein herd and making the farming operation thrive through both lean and good times. She demonstrated an incredible work ethic and expected the same from Charles. Her guidance developed his character and his focused mindset. Grandma Carico was a master at strategizing how to maximize the dairy herd and farming operation, thinking “out of the box” to market milk, cream and eggs direct to the community. Charles was at her side from the time he could carry his own little bucket, and her knowledge rubbed off on the impressionable youth. As he grew, his responsibilities did, too. Seeing his passion for cattle emerge, when Charles was 11, his grandmother purchased a herd of 65 registered Angus cows. She knew this investment would to teach him responsibility and the basics of owning and managing his own agricultural business.
Carrying on his family tradition, Charles recognizes the need to pass on knowledge and the love of agriculture to future generations. He has invested in the youth of the cattle industry by donating to the American Angus Foundation. In January 2017, for the fifth year in a row, Herbster Angus farms purchased the Angus Foundation Female at the National Western Stock Show. “Investing in our future leaders is a great way to give back to the agricultural community,” said Charles. “The Angus Foundation is an awesome organization that provides scholarships to kids who will impact the cattle industry in a positive way. I love helping our youth succeed.”
Furthermore, Charles, like his grandmother before him, is helping raise an Angus protégé in Miranda Raithel, daughter of Ed and Mandy Raithel, who manage Herbster Angus Farms. Like Charles, she was “born and raised” at Herbster Angus Farms, learning hard work, dedication and the building blocks necessary to run a successful cattle enterprise. “It’s refreshing to see such a knowledgeable and dedicated young person like Miranda. She promotes our program by showing our junior cattle. I am proud of her accomplishments, and I am happy to give her the opportunity to shine both in the show ring and in the industry.”
Charles’ initial dream for Herbster Angus Farms was to own 100 of the very best Angus cows in the breed. Achieving this goal would take time and require a great blueprint. He knew exactly what he wanted to achieve, but needed the expertise of someone who shared the same passion with the ability to twist together the best genetics in the industry. Ed Raithel was and still is that man. Charles and Ed have invested their lives in Herbster Angus Farms. They create a dynamic synergy, and they are willing to make bold decisions to continue to move forward with their program.
Together, Charles and Ed are the heart of the operation and the masterminds behind every decision, whether it is purchasing the next great Angus bull or making mating choices on the top donors. They believe it is their responsibility to purchase and breed the right genetics, while enabling the Herbster Angus Farms customer base to reach new heights. “It’s apparent we don’t do average,” said Charles. “Countless registered and commercial breeders alike report that our genetics produce superior results. Nothing speaks more loudly or boldly than satisfied customers.”
The Herbster Angus customer base also sings the praises of the program. “In January 2017, 24 SAV Seedstock calves were born at McKellar Angus. They were problem-free, vigorous and calved very easily. The Seedstock calves exhibit very correct structure and strong breed character,” shared customer Joseph McKellar, Mt. Pleasant, Texas.
After building the basic structure and ideology behind Herbster Angus Farms, Charles began to invest in superior stud-quality bulls. To connect with his clientele and provide the pinnacle of customer service, he chose to market his semen in a breeder-to-breeder fashion. This technique brings another dimension to semen sales. Unlike large semen distributors, Herbster Angus Farms’ customers are asked about the goals of their program. Because Herbster Angus Farms utilizes their bulls in a real-world setting, they can make educated recommendations to breeders on which bull best fits their objectives.
Semen quality and conception rates are discussed, and the clientele are reminded that Herbster Angus Farms’ semen is packaged at 40 million cells per straw and sells for $40. Charles Boyd II, Mays Lick, Ky., said, “We use semen that has been put up at many studs. Without question, the Herbster Angus Farms’ semen, collected at North American Breeders, is the highest-quality semen we have ever used.”
Charles states, “Our focus has always been to help fellow cattlemen build better animals and contribute to their overall success. At Herbster Angus Farms, we honestly represent the genetics we market for the future of the Angus breed. Ultimately, we are investing in your success and providing breeders a program; not just selling a few straws of semen.”
Charles looks back today and is grateful for the life lessons his grandmother passed on to him, helping him succeed in business as well as the cattle industry. She instilled in him great business sense and demonstrated it to him every day. She had no idea the role that Charles would play in U.S. agriculture: owning Herbster Angus Farms, North American Breeders, the Conklin Company Inc. and serving as the Chairman of the Agricultural and Rural Advisory Committee for President Donald J. Trump. Charles continues to work with the Trump Administration in the Ag Chairman position and, as a farmer and businessman involved in agriculture, he is committed to do his part. Charles said, “When President Trump asked me to serve as the National Chairman of the Agricultural and Rural Advisory Committee, I was honored. I have had the opportunity to work with committee members to represent and serve agricultural communities from coast to coast. Many of these committee members have been elected to solve issues that impact rural America every day. I am proud to stand with these men and women working to ensure that the voice of agriculture will be heard and its interests served.”
Charles stated that the following issues are important for rural America:
* Treating agricultural issues as vitally important to national security and the U.S. economy. Too often, bad policies and needless government mandates harm farmers and make food and farm products costly to produce and more expensive for consumers who purchase those farm products.
* Rolling back devastating regulations such as WOTUS (Waters of the United States).
* Working tirelessly to gain American energy independence. This means striving to bring all forms of energy into the market where consumers can drive energy decisions.
* Passing tax reform that will significantly benefit farmers and ranchers, especially eliminating the “death tax” that devastates the legacy of the family farm.
* Actively participating in writing the next Farm Bill and encouraging Congress to deliver it on time.
* Implementing and enforcing an immigration policy that will improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.
Hard work, dedication and stewardship has been Charles’ focus his whole life. His involvement in the youth of our industry and the current policies in Washington provides a stronghold for agricultural families far into the future. “James H. Douglas, Jr. once said, ‘Our deep respect for the land and its harvest is the legacy of generations of farmers who put food on our tables, preserved our landscape and inspired us with a powerful work ethic.’ I think this is a powerful statement, and it’s how I would like to leave my legacy,” said Charles. Throughout his life, Charles has been a champion for the rural lifestyle, its people and its conservative ideologies.
Every day is an opportunity to make an impact
By Martha Hollida Garrett
She loves what she does and it shows in her creative marketing projects for customers across the country. Stephanie Cronin Steck sees every day as an opportunity to make a positive impact and she has the commitment, passion and talent to do just that.
Stephanie, not only owns her own agricultural marketing and advertising agency, Stephanie Cronin Inc. (SCI), but also co-owns Steck Cattle in Woodstock, Minnesota with her husband, Craig and their 5-year-old son, Keagan.
“Each day, I get up and work as hard as I can for all my clients. When I’m faced with a decision for a SCI or one of our cattle clients, I make it on the basis of how I would want to be treated. I analyze how I can do things not just differently, but with impact,” she described.
Her creativity and desire to incorporate the latest marketing technologies has earned her company an impressive, as well as extensive client list. She is the idea person and marketing arm for Willow Springs Cattle Co. (WSCC), of Prairie Grove, Arkansas. She also developed the initial real-time platform for Sullivan Supply’s Pulse social feed, as well as cutting edge blogging capabilities for Lautner Farms. She designed and set up shopping cart responsive websites for Lautner Farms, Midwest Genetics, Griswold Cattle Co., and Champion Show Stock. Cattlemen and ag businesses across breeds and states market their products through her designs, catalogs, websites, video campaigns and social media formats. Her work is recognized for its eye-catching designs, bold messages and her clients can count on her to bring cutting edge technology possibilities to their campaigns.
Stephanie, a self-described “city kid” knew she wanted to be involved in agriculture at a young age.
“I grew up in a single parent home in Omaha, Nebraska. Our neighbors had sheep and cattle outside of town and that influenced me, greatly. I begged or maybe threatened my mom that I was going to raise sheep in our garage,” she recalled.
When she was 12-years-old, her days as a city kid ended and doors opened that would set the trajectory for her career and personal life.
“My mom, Cindy married Mike Pallas, who was the manager for Omaha Home for Boys, which was also home to the Cooper Memorial Farm 4-H Club. They had cattle facilities and used a cattle showing program to help the boys who came from broken homes or had troubled lives. I immediately began to show cattle with the boys and loved it. In addition to setting my foundation for life, I also saw first-hand how lives could be changed with a show calf. It was an incredible thing to see an inner-city kid with problems change when put in this environment. That’s something that will always drive me,” she stated.
“When Cindy and I married, I gave Stephanie an orphan calf to take care of and thought we will see how long her interest lasts. Well, she never grew tired of taking care of it and she absolutely loved working her show cattle. The 4-H facility was behind the house and it had a phone in it. We would have to call her at 11-11:30 p.m. and make her come to the house. She was always washing, blowing, and working with her cattle. From day one she had tremendous work ethic, which continues today with both SCI and their cattle operation. She loves what she does and works hard at everything she does,” said her step-dad.
Stephanie would not only show cattle locally, but she would become very invested in her show cattle and would show competitively on a national level, as well as serve as an intern for Shorthorn Country. She and Craig met at the National Junior Shorthorn Show held in Sioux City, South Dakota and today they live 45 minutes from that special meeting place. Craig was raised on his family’s farm in west central Illinois and they were active Shorthorn breeders.
That meeting would lead to a long-distance relationship as Stephanie was working on her graphic arts and visual communications degree at Creighton University in Omaha. Craig was acquiring an animal science degree with nutrition emphasis at the University of Illinois and was on the livestock judging team.
Upon graduating in 2005, Stephanie took an initial position with a show publication and continued SCI on the side. Then she joined an Omaha bank and managed the emerging
eCommerce division, all the while, SCI was continuing to grow.
During this time, Craig joined Cargill Pork and moved to Iowa City, Iowa, which put the two a little bit closer together on the map. After three years of tearing up the roads and meeting at cattle sales and shows, Craig relocated to Omaha. They would marry in 2008 and that would also mark the start of Steck Cattle outside of Omaha. While built on love, the marriage merged their talents—his strong suits of mating and feeding of cattle with her marketing abilities and unmatched commitment to youth.
Stephanie’s marketing prowess and creative designs gained her clients and her business was reaching the point that it was no longer a side business. In 2010, she left her eight to five job at the bank to commit her energies and talents to SCI and Steck Cattle. In 2013, Craig joined the leadership team at New Horizon Farms (NHF), a multi-faceted agricultural business, and the family, SCI and Steck Cattle moved to their current location just south of Woodstock, Minnesota.
The rest is history as they say. She, along with one employee, Jeana Sankey Hurlbut handle all the SCI projects and maintain close contact with their clients, all while looking for the next new thing or avenue to place their clients at the forefront.
“I want to convey each client’s message, not just advertise for them. I want Jeana and I to serve our customers well and do our best for them. My days start early and are long, as I balance family, SCI with Steck Cattle, but some of my best ideas have hit me while blow drying a heifer,” she said.
Building a small business is not easy and Jeana shared that Stephanie’s hard work and dedication to her clients is what has led her to build SCI to what it is today. Jeana has seen how great Stephanie is at helping clients put together a marketing plan that will generate success and profit and she said that Stephanie is not afraid to put in late nights, weekends, or whatever it takes to get the plan finished.
“I think her leadership and creative mind has led her to be successful. She has taught me a lot and is a great employer. She is so passionate about her design work, along with raising elite cattle. She pushes herself, her family and employees to always give 110 percent. She’s here to serve her clients and customers to the best of her ability, giving all she has - all the time,” said Jeana emphasizing, “she’s passionate about the cattle industry.”
Craig was quick to add that she is committed to staying ahead of the curve and her drive to be an innovator is always present. “She has the ability to see when or what can happen and identify those avenues for promotion,” he said.
Eric Walker, who owns WSCC is one of SCI’s clients and has embraced Stephanie’s innovative approach to marketing.
“First and foremost, I use SCI because Stephanie handles it like it’s her own. Everything she does has her personal touch. She invests herself in her customers and always goes the extra mile on every project. Junior customers are a large part of our clientele and Stephanie’s ideas really reach them, as well as our entire customer base. Stephanie is so involved in the industry, as well as their personal cattle operation and that allows her to have her finger on what is happening in the industry and she can visualize what is coming,” he said.
Steck Cattle was started with some of Stephanie’s retired Shorthorn show heifers, including the famous, Chelsie 269M. Daughters of Chelsie have won the stock shows of Fort Worth, Kansas City, Denver, Louisville, as well as the MaineTainer Junior National and Shorthorn Plus Junior National Shows and they continue to be some of the most sought-after genetics in their “Our Commitment Sale” held annually in October. In addition, they have MaineTainer, Shorthorn Plus, Chianina and Simmental cattle and many trace back to Stephanie’s sister’s show heifers.
Craig and Stephanie outlined the direction of their program early and quantity was never a consideration. Their emphasis from day one and still today, more than a decade later is on quality. When Craig worked for Cargill Pork, he traveled extensively. His position with NHF allows him to be home at night and he and Stephanie handle almost all the cattle responsibilities in addition to their fulltime careers. They are very hands on and only hire outside help as needed throughout the year.
Craig added, “Stephanie and I have built our cattle program to cater to youth and her experiences at the Omaha Home For Boys drives her to help our young customers develop in and out of the show ring and she sees so many teaching opportunities with cattle.”
Steck Cattle is home to 10 donors and 25 recipients with their marketing focus on junior customers.
Through embryo transfer, they stay competitive and cattle produced in the Steck program have won on the major level across breeds. But more importantly, their customers have had success and they have Craig and Stephanie’s total commitment to help them achieve that success.
“We sit down and get to know our juniors and their families. We ask them at what level do you want to compete and what goals do you have for a show heifer from us. Whether a junior wants to win their county fair or junior nationals, then we are right there to guide and help them. We try to be at as many shows as we can. We will clip for them, provide a feeding plan and help them achieve their goals. It’s very gratifying and satisfying to us to be with them every step of the way. We have the opportunity to impact our young customers for good,” noted Stephanie.
“Stephanie’s background drive and commitment, plus her marketing abilities have really set our program apart. She brings a very high level of talent, innovation, perfectionism and perspective to her work,” said Craig.
Craig and Stephanie are very transparent about what they do and why they do it. Their operating principles and slogan is “Right Kind. Right Way. Right People. Our Commitment.” That precedes their decisions, their management style and it is shared with all their juniors and their families.
“Our kids started showing in 2006 and we have purchased many heifers from Craig and Stephanie. Our kids have benefited greatly and want to learn from them. They raise great cattle and the effort and time they give juniors is unmatched. They are Willow Spring’s role model,” stressed Walker.
Not surprising, SCI is also a big supporter of youth and Stephanie routinely donates her and Jeana’s talent to benefit junior cattle associations and like causes. Steck Cattle also offers a scholarship program to their customers and industry leaders, as a way to give back.
Stephanie is quick to point out her favorites aspects of agriculture, which include working with like-minded people, high morals and values and a genuine respect for land and animals. Plus, she notes the fun of travelling to shows, particularly junior nationals and sharing life and the lessons learned.
“I can’t think of a better way to raise Keegan, as he is beside us daily as we work. I love my life and the opportunities it is affords,” she concluded and it shows in the magazines, websites, videos, and posts across social media daily for her SCI customers and it shows in the success of Steck Cattle and their customers.
From a young age, cattle have always been my passion and I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up on a cattle ranch near Medicine Lodge, KS. This may come as a shock to some of you but I didn’t grow up showing cattle. Although my family has deep roots in the cattle business, showing cattle was never on my granddads or dads minds and so consequently it wasn’t part of what I was involved with as a youngster. My family’s operation consisted of stocker cattle, a cow-calf operation and raising crops most of which, was feed for our cattle operation. On top of this my grandad ran the sale barn in Medicine Lodge. I have found memories of working the yards at the sale barn and learning the ins and outs of the cattle marketing business. Along with this, I was very active in my local FFA chapter and this is where I caught the “judging bug”. I really looked up to my Ag teacher as he was a legend in our area and was the same guy that taught my dad and mom, when they were high school. Needless to say, Mr. Poland was a seasoned veteran and a guy that I was eager to learn from. I really enjoyed learning the fundamentals from Mr. Poland and traveling to competitions to see the stock and compete. In between contests I would take what I learned and study the stock we had at home. Between this and Mr. Poland’s coaching I became addicted to livestock judging and set a goal to best that I could be. From day one I wanted to go to college at Kansas State University. Initially as a kid, it was because of their football program and watching wildcat football on TV on Saturdays. But then realizing in high school that they have a livestock judging team and the best coach in the country (Dr. Scott Schaake), I said this is a no brainer. My senior year in high school, at the Kansas Beef Expo livestock judging contest, I was fortunate to get recognized for a high set of reasons, the officials that day were from Butler County and that is where I met Mr. Chris Mullinix. After a recruiting visit and a scholarship offer I decided to take a two-year detour to Manhattan to judge for Mullinix. The saying a small fish in a big pond would describe where I started at Butler and I owe Mullinix a lot for taking the time and believing in my ability from day one. Although, I had competed extensively in high school in the state of Kansas, I was nowhere near the same caliber of my teammates nor had the national experience that they came in with. But with a lot of hard work and correct mentorship from Mullinix I ended up getting cards at every national contest. More importantly though I met some incredible friends during my stay at Butler many of which I still talk and interact with today. Traveling up down the road with a great group people and the memories we created together are the moments that I still cherish today. Most of us on that that team transferred to KSU to judge for Schaake and we ended up being the reserve national champions. To fulfill a dream of mine by judging for KSU and representing many of the great alumni that had judged at KSU was great honor. After completing my bachelors in Animal Sciences and Industry, I chose to pursue a Master’s at the University of Illinois. Because of the impact that Mullinix and Schaake had on me, I was compelled to try my hand at coaching and was offered the assistant livestock judging coach position at U of I, where I helped coach three teams while completing my Maters in beef cattle nutrition. I was fortunate to coach with Dr. Dan Shike and received great mentorship from Dr. Doug Parrett. My U of I experience was a great one and again the friendships and Industry connections made during my stay were priceless. During my last semester at U of I the coaching positon at Colorado State University became available and as fate would have it I landed the job. I was fortunate to coach eight years at CSU while serving as an Instructor in the Animal Science department. Those eight years along the front range were instrumental in shaping the career I have today. Again, I had great mentors Dr. Brett Kaysen, Dr. Kevin Pond and Mr. Bill Wailies all of which helped me become a better teacher and coach. As well I’m very thankful to the many RAM alumni and friends of the program that hosted judging workouts and supported the team. I was blessed to coach many successful teams at CSU, but beyond the trophy cases I’m proud to see these young people making a difference in their communities and within the Industry. My greatest accomplishment though in Colorado was marrying my wife Lacey and starting our family together in Fort Collins. Both of our children Cealy Rose and Chisum were born here and I’m very thankful for the many memories that we started along the front range.
Today our home is in Holt, MO about 30 miles north of Kansas City. I work for the American Hereford Association as the Chief Operating Officer and Director of Breed Improvement. I’m very blessed to work for a great organization and interact with the greatest breeders in the country raising Hereford Seedstock. It’s truly exciting to see the level of enthusiasm for the breed right now and I look forward to seeing continued growth in the future.
I’ve had quite a ride and this year at the National Western Stock Show it came full circle for me. I had the opportunity to judge the market steer show with Dr. Clint Rusk and Dr. Dave Duello, two legends in the business. Rusk is from the same county as I in Kansas (Barber County), Mr. Poland also coached him in high school and I took my teams at CSU to practice at Duello’s on a regular basis, which are fond memories. During the grand drive, Duello says in his speech “surround yourself with good people and keep dreaming”. Well the good Lord has certainly looked out for me and surrounded me with some great people to shape my life to what is today and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t dream about my future goals. •
The moment you pull up to the show barn Headquarters of Smith Cattle Company, you are drawn to the well-manicured facilities and grounds. That same attention to detail is evident in the cattle management and cattle quality of this Estherville, Iowa operation. The partnership between Dennis Smith and his son, Brad, has been successfully marketing show cattle from the rolling hills of northwest Iowa for three generations. Both Dennis and Brad would credit Dennis’ father Ward Smith with establishing the cattle mentality that it takes to be successful and much of Ward’s advice still applies to today’s show cattle industry. Dennis’ wife, Holle, keeps the Smith crew fed, handles bookkeeping duties and keeps the place looking good.
Today at Smith Cattle Company, much of the genetic decisions fall to Brad. He credits the familiar path of many cattlemen; 4-H experiences, college work opportunities, University Judging Team, as having a dramatic influence on his cattle skills. “My sister Jennifer and I showed cattle together all through our 4-H years” Brad noted. His sister Jennifer is married to Cody Holmes and they have a cattle operation of their own in northwest Iowa. Those early experiences helped Brad understand how to make cattle better both genetically and by developing fitting skills that have become world class. “My Judging Team experiences at Iowa State were rewarding. We weren’t the greatest team ever, but the opportunities that I had with my teammates and even the kids I competed against are still in place today,” mentioned Brad. “In my college years, I also had the privilege to work with great cattle mentors that had a huge imprint on how to breed cattle and have an impact in the show industry,” explains Brad. “Mark and Deb Core, Wade Rodgers, Faber Show Cattle and Jeff Holmes were part of my college years’ experiences and I am indebted to them for all they taught me. I learned so much from them and formed business relationships that continue to this day,” commented Brad.
After college graduation, Brad’s cattle passion was the spark for returning to the family farm but the question lingered, would the farm be able to handle the extra income needs? The Smith’s committed to selling more cattle and being more purposeful in their marketing plan for the cattle produced at their farm. That extra push helped while Brad quickly built his own herd to enhance the scope of their cattle breeding program.
Just as Brad would credit many people that have helped him over the years, it’s evident to see the passion he has for mentoring the next generation of show enthusiasts. Several of the 4-Hers that started buying steers from Dennis and Brad have become “clipper help” to prepare sale cattle and some even advanced into partners on some genetics at Smiths’. Zach Lindsey and Brandon Johansen are key employees of Smith Cattle Company and are equally handy at day to day cow management and sale prep. Additionally, interns from nearby Iowa Lakes Community College provide much needed extra help during calving and breeding seasons. Dustin Clement and Kyle Long have come through the ILCC program and contribute to the Smith’s success.
Smith Cattle Company today includes about 300 cows. Smiths would put in about 125 embryos each spring with the remainder of the cows bred A.I. Brad explained that “club calves have long been our breeding program” and the Smiths have an impressive list of market cattle winners from across the country at all levels, state, regional and national.
But each year a few more cows are dedicated to registered cattle matings with maternal influence. “Dad and Grandpa both taught me how important the cow piece of this operation is,” Brad said. The maternal base is made up of some Angus, Charolais and composites but the main emphasis is turning to Simmy influenced females. “I have invested in bulls like On the Mark, Loaded Up, Maternal Perfection, No Pressure, Big Pappa, Mr. Misunderstood and Thompson Squared so that our operation continues to get noticed for making good females that will work in all kinds of our customers’ programs from clubbies to purebreds,” Brad notes. The Smith’s female focus is on display at the First Class Female Sale held the second Saturday of December each year. This event continues to gain favor with Smith’s customer base due to the outstanding quality and packed pedigrees of the sale heifers. Brad is quick to recognize his sale partners for working cooperatively to make the sale so successful, Wade Rodgers, Chris Rosa, Reiman Family and Luke Doris Show Cattle. “We all have a common goal of producing a set of breds that we are proud to offer to our customers, but each of our breeding programs go at that a little differently making the sale offering diverse enough that everybody can find some matings they like,” commented Brad. He would also credit Steve Bonham and John Griswold for their outside influence on the sale’s success. The First Class Female Sale is complemented by the First Class Bull Sale each spring with the help of the same partners. Smiths would have 15-20 maternal influenced bulls as part of the sale group. Many of the bulls go to customers that have also purchased females from Brad and Dennis.
Since 2002 the Club Calf offering is marketed through a September Pasture Sale that is part of the Pro Tour Club Calf group in northern Iowa. Smiths offer 40 head of their very best steer and market heifer prospects on the Pro Tour with a few breeding heifer candidates added each year. The Smith’s club calf side of the business has been built around generating steer prospects out of the very elite donors of the industry. Nearly all the prospects in the Pasture Sale are E.T.s. Brad and Dennis have recently added a few fall born E.T.s to expand into markets outside of the Midwest.
Attention to detail, a respect for the past and a clear vision for the future has Smith Cattle Company in an elite class in the show cattle industry.