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!
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.
1. What is your background (growing up, family history, showing, sports, etc.)?
1. I'm just a rural Iowa farm boy who grew up in Liberty Center, Iowa. I grew up helping with the 200 cow/calf, 1500 head feeder pig and 2000 acres of row crop operation that my father still operates. I always loved showing cattle growing up even though I was never very successful; but I did have reserve at my county fair with a purebred angus steer that we raised. I always had the desire to win which most likely lead me to the business I'm in.
2. When did you get started in the bull business?
2.In March of 2008 I raised a bull called Walks Alone. He will always be my favorite I knew he was special at birth he had parts and pieces that were very unique. I still think they make good fat steers and are awesome for cows. From there things just Progressed to what we have been blessed with to date.
3. What are your goals for the future?
3. The last 15 years of my life I've been focused on building my business. The next 15 I'm planning on focusing more on my faith and my wife and children.
4. What is the drive behind Rodger's Cattle Company?
4. Never had much success when I showed but always wanted to. I believe any goals are achievable if you’re willing to work for them. Defeat is inevitable but keeping the Want To after you've been beat is what has kept thriving to do better.
5. Are you looking forward to having your kids grow up and become more involved in the industry and business?
5. Only if that's what they want to do. I'm not by any means going to force them to show. They will learn early that they will have to do the work, Kaylene and I will be there to support and help them but not do it all for them. I still believe showing cattle is a great tool for life lessons if done properly.
6. What is your favorite aspect of what you do?
6. Raising show calves. At the age of 20 I took out a loan and bought my first three cows from Kevin Newman. From there I've built them up to 100 head cow/calf operation. We've been fortunate enough to raise several promotion bulls, champion steers at Denver, Iowa state fair, Indiana State fair, and Kansas City.
7. Who are your biggest role models/people that have influenced who you are and what you have accomplished?
7. My mother and father growing up. My dad instilled a great work ethic in me. My mother showed me love for her children which now having them of my own I realize. Several people have influenced what I've accomplished mainly people I've worked for through the years and learning from the best of their qualities. Brad Hook, Tracy Goretska, Mark Copus, Kevin Newman and Bob May.
8. What makes Rodger's Bulls different than the rest?
8. I'm a huge believer in the cow that the bull is out of to me that's what makes the bull breed good.
I'm not a fan of publicly running someone else's bulls down to make mine look better. We try to focus on improving our sires every year no matter the breed or breeding in them. Semen quality is another thing we focus on having cows ourselves we realize how important it is
9. Anything else you would like to share/include.
9. John 3:16 The most important thing you can ever hear
Special Thank you to my wife Kaylene she is the tie that keeps everything together!!
Also, would like to thank everyone who has helped Rodgers Cattle Company over the years!! Dustin Smith, JR Spear, Clint Thompson, Nolan Ferguson, Stretch, Colton Otto
Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Reflecting on my career at the American Hereford Association (AHA) and the places it has taken me, I can’t help but remember high school graduation day and sitting down to read a book I received from a dear friend. The message in Dr. Seuss’s inspirational piece, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, struck a chord with me that day and has motivated me many times since. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
I’ve watched countless young Hereford exhibitors walk into the showring for the first time at the age of seven and I have watched them grow up and pass down their maroon jackets as they give their retiring addresses and complete their terms on the junior board. With each graduating class, I so enjoy seeing members of the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA) and other industry friends achieve these special milestones in their young lives. As the director of youth activities and foundation for the AHA my days are spent building programs, organizing events, mentoring the junior members of the Hereford breed, and in the end creating opportunities for them to become future leaders of this great industry we all grew up in.
I often talk to high school students and even college students who are undecided about what their future holds. For many years I was going to follow my mom’s footsteps in the dental field and be a hygienist. And right up until the end of my senior year, I was positive I wanted to be a nurse. Isn’t it funny how our past experiences, coupled with the people we meet along the way, quickly change one’s mind as to what the future holds and the places we will go.
As a youth, I had a very similar path as many of you. I grew up on my family’s farm in Northwest Iowa. We raised everything from corn and soybeans, to cattle, pigs and sheep. My high school did not have a FFA program, but I grew up in 4-H and am so thankful for all the places 4-H took me. “Ferd” was the first steer I ever showed and how ironic that he was a Hereford from my Grandpa Clow. I spent my summers helping on the farm, riding horses and working on my 4-H projects in preparation for the county and state fairs. My brother and I were the third generation of the Cowan family to raise Shorthorns and Cowan Cattle Company gave me the first taste of this industry that I love, took me many places over the years and introduced me to some of my very best of friends.
I graduated from high school in 1993 and from there I was off to South Dakota State University (SDSU). It was at the freshman orientation career fair that I met the SDSU livestock judging team coach at the time and had a chance to visit with her about opportunities in the college of agriculture. I remember rehashing the day’s events with Dad on our way home from Brookings, and the fact that I could take my love for agriculture and turn it into a career path seemed too good to be true. That day, Dad encouraged me to follow my heart and it didn’t take me long to realize that SDSU was the place for me and just like that I had decided to major in ag journalism and animal science.
College days were some of the best years of my life, and still today, when fall rolls around, there is a part of me that would like to be headed back to Brookings to catch up with the crew. I was involved in a variety of clubs and activities at SDSU and as part of my work-study program worked in the meat lab, giving me hands on experience in that part of the industry and customer service. I was very active in Block and Bridle, Little International and the Rodeo Club, where I served as the business manager for the Jack Rabbit Stampede. These activities exposed me to all kinds of event planning and fundraising scenarios and from these experiences I developed a passion for marketing and orchestrating events.
My junior and senior years I took the opportunity presented to me and competed on the livestock judging team. Not having had any judging experience other than placing a few classes at the county fair, I will never forget how nervous I was to give my first set of reasons and how out of my league I knew I was. But, I stepped out of my comfort zone and had a huge mountain to climb. Judging was definitely the highlight for me at SDSU and I truly believe it is what opened up my career door and taught me a whole lot about not only livestock, but, life in general. There is not a week that goes by that I don’t use a skill set I acquired from competing on the judging team, not to mention the friendships and networks I built that led me to the next places.
I was fortunate enough to land an internship at the American Shorthorn Association (ASA) between my junior and senior year and that was an awesome learning experience for me getting to work and learn alongside ASA and Shorthorn Country staff members. After a summer at the ASA headquarters and playing a big part in that year’s national junior show and helping to pull together the pages of the magazine, I realized I was doing what I loved.
In the spring of my senior year, a door opened for me at the American Hereford Association and one phone interview later I had the job and was moving to Kansas City. Time flies when you are having fun, and it is hard for me to believe that June 1st will mark my 19th year working for the association and serving our membership. While I have had a wide variety of job titles and responsibilities through out my Hereford timeline, none have been more fulfilling than my current duties and serving as the director of youth activities and my involvement with the Hereford Youth Foundation of America.
Tonight as I finish this article, we are wrapping up the early bird entry deadline for the upcoming Junior National Hereford Expo that will take place in Louisville. As I watch the entries roll in on my computer screen and experience the excitement that surrounds getting ready for the junior national for exhibitors and their families from across the country, it definitely makes the years of planning, all the fundraising and all the efforts that go into an event of this magnitude so worth my while.
None of the places I have been would be near the same without the people I have encountered and worked with along the way. Day in and day out I am in complete awe of the support that my Hereford family and livestock industry have for our Hereford youth programs. Together we have worked hard to provide more scholarship opportunities, to create more effective leadership programs and to build the Junior National Hereford Expo into one of the best in the world. All this, so the next generation can continue to move mountains.
The youth of the livestock industry are definitely going places and I consider myself lucky to get to be just a small part on some of your journeys. My Dad taught me at a young age to follow my dreams and I think he would be proud of the places those dreams are taking me. My advice to you as your life happens… look ONWARD and look UPWARD and like all of us in American agriculture strive to do each day, work hard to leave your space in a better place than you found it. I look forward to seeing you all down the road and at the next place.
“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!” Dr. Seuss
Lindsey Broek is an All-Star when it comes to working with youth and running the Best of the Barns winning Maine-Anjou Junior National; not to mention the work she does day-in and day-out for the American Maine-Anjou Association outside of their big Summer show. Lindsey is always game to volunteer her time and talents to help friends with their endeavors including the Junior National Hereford Expo and the Blackout! The number of people she has a positive impact on on a daily basis is noteworthy. We are excited to introduce her as one of our newest Hall of Fame inductees.
Loren & Maureen
Loren and Maureen graduated high school together. Mom pursued a degree as a RN. Dad started vet school at Iowa State and then enlisted in the Army during WW II and spent his service time in Germany as a MP. Following the war he married mom and they just celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary February 2. They started a purebred Hereford herd and proudly sold bulls. In fact, they raised an Iowa State Fair Champion Steer! Mom and Dad were both accomplished horsemen and began competing at a national level showing horses as well as cattle.
They were both very involved with raising horses and cattle up until the past ten years. Mom quit showing to support her kids in their show dreams. During her career she was a RN, Director of Nurses and a Hospital Administrator.
Dad has judged horses nationally and shown horses and cattle throughout the US including Chicago, Cow Palace, Houston, Kansas City and Denver. At the NWSS he has shown cattle (hill and yards) and horses. He has also judged horses at the National Western Stock Show. After dad finished judging, he and mom would sit and discuss the day and mom would let him know when he made a mistake and what she saw that he missed.
Their true love is supporting kids. They have driven all over the US to cheer on not only their own kids, but grand kids and great grand kids. They even cheer on their many “grand kids” that they have watched grow up from the inside of their Choice of Champions trailer.
When mom retired from the Hospital industry, they became Sullivan Supply dealers. They truly loved this time - always around kids showing livestock. Both of their true loves - animals and kids. I truly believe they would do anything to help a kid showing livestock.
Over the years they have had great success with cattle and horses in the show ring. Dad has also won the Houston Stock Show herdsman award twice. They have received numerous awards and accolades from the show. horse and cattle industry throughout their lifetime. Mom received several awards during her RN career.
Dad’s love of horses to ride and compete on - cutters, Mom’s love - trotters and pacers. Her dad raced them and she was very involved. She can ride Western or English, and is really good. Mom will celebrate her 94th birthday March 5th, and dad his 94th August 15th. •
Laurie, Lisa and I have many great memories of showing livestock. Loren and Maureen were “Sullivans” to us when we were showing. Instead of ordering our show supplies online, we would buy our supplies from them at the shows. We would always visit with them before, during and after the shows in Riverton, Billings, Kersey, the Colorado State Fair and numerous other jackpots. Our favorite part of hosting the Blackout Jackpot each year has been to have them both involved with our show, since they mean so much to us. Loren helps work the ring and Maureen hands out prizes to each exhibitor.
Fame! Thanks for all you do! We love you both!
- The Reid Family
What is the makeup and history of Barber Ranch?
Barber Ranch is an honoree of the Texas Family Land Heritage Program for 100+ years of continuous land ownership and agriculture production by the same family. The ranch has been family owned for 113 years. My parents, Dale and Mary, have devoted their entire lives to raising top notch Hereford genetics in the panhandle of Texas, and are two of the most respected and recognized people in the cattle industry. They have four children who are all involved in the ranch today: Justin Barber lives on the ranch and is involved with all facets of ranch activities. Justin’s wife Jenna is a veterinarian for Swann Animal Clinic in Amarillo and they have twin 2 year old girls: Henley and Beckett. Brett Barber and wife Reagan, also live and work on the ranch and have five children: Rylee, Bryden, Tanner, Tyler and Aidyn. Terri Barber is a southwest territory manager for Elanco Animal Health and currently resides in New Mexico. Jason, Jaci and Bode Barber live in Fort Worth where Jason manages the Purebred Division of Superior Livestock and is also a partner/co-founder of SmartAuctions.
What is your personal involvement in the operation?
My personal involvement in Barber Ranch focuses primarily on marketing and promotion with a shared interest in day to day operations when my schedule allows. With my involvement in the animal health industry I enjoy being able to network and learn through the dynamic opportunities afforded through an outside the box view of agriculture and the beef business. Helping my family actively market and promote our genetics to best suit the needs of our customers is what I find most fulfilling to me. Whether it’s helping a progressive commercial cattle operation find their next great herd sires or assisting a junior member in leadership opportunities or committing the time and resources to serve on Boards – these all encompass my current involvement with our operation.
What do you feel has made Barber Ranch successful?
Success is measured in a multitude of ways I believe. Certainly persistence and tenacity to always improve and continue to make breed-leading and industry strides has been our navigation tool. Being passionate, patient and diligent in everything we do continues to make us better. Above all, acting with integrity to earn our breed and industry’s trust and the privilege to be in – and stay in – this business is a major key to our success. I believe each of us has the inherent responsibility of carrying our principles forward to successive generations while taking what we find here and making it better and better.
What experiences in your life shaped you into the cattle producer that you are today?
I’ve been very fortunate to have enjoyed a career path that has always centered around beef cattle and agriculture in general. My roots are steeped in Hereford genes from the start having grown up on our ranch in the Texas Panhandle in a renowned area made famous by such ranching legends including the XIT, the LIT, Charles Goodnight among many others. Just being able to survive and thrive in a rather raw climate that this extreme part of the state provides certainly thickens one’s skin and shapes your core values of living. Being actively involved in 4-H and livestock and meats judging competitions from an early age helped develop my evaluation skills that have created numerous judging opportunities well past college. Growing up with parents who had a natural eye for great cattle certainly didn’t hurt either. Having the privilege of judging the North American International Livestock Exposition alongside my mother a few years ago would have to rank as one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve enjoyed. After two summer internships with the American Hereford Association and the International Brangus Breeders Association my goal was to stay involved in the beef industry providing exceptional customer service to members and their families. As such I served as the director for youth, shows and promotion for IBBA for seven and a half years before having the opportunity to experience the government side of the industry. For the following six years I served under then Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs as the director for livestock marketing for the state of Texas, an opportunity that allowed me to travel the world extensively promoting Texas livestock and genetics. What was extra special was the fact that both Susan and I were first females in these roles. When she was elected to Comptroller of Public Accounts for the state on her next mission, another door opened for me to join Elanco Animal Health – first as a branded beef consultant which led to roles within our food industry and consumer affairs group before joining the field sales staff a few years later.
Who has most inspired or encouraged you as a cattle producer over the years?
Most definitely my parents have inspired and encouraged me as well as some of our closest and most loyal cattle partners some of whom are located coast to coast. Also, some of the breed’s most well-known and respected cattlemen and women were also on my most-admired list including the late Wayne Haygood and Weldon Edwards, John Dudley and Minnie Lou Bradley of Bradley’s B3R Ranch, the American Angus Association’s first female president and another Texas Panhandle native who my Mom also had the privilege of interning under as a teenager. The Hereford employees from my youth were very uplifting and supportive as well. Among this list would be the great, late B.C. “Bud” Snidow, Jim Boyd, Jack Chastain and of course my youth leaders on a state and national level including Diane Johnson at Texas Hereford and Bonnie Coley-Malir at AHA. Our competitors would also be on this distinguished list as they have constantly kept us on top of our game.
What qualities do you think make cattle producers different than everyday Americans?
Cattle producers live and operate on a level high above most everyday Americans because they understand and do what it takes to provide for everyone regardless of their status. They have an inherent ability to withstand the ups and downs of market cycles, Mother Nature and the economy in general. They can perform at the highest level when everything around them seems in disarray. And they get up each day knowing this and persisting as it’s their life passion and goal.
What is your history with the AHA and the Hereford breed?
I have been a member of the AHA and Junior Hereford Association since I was old enough to join. Growing up with Hereford cattle my entire life afforded me leadership and showing opportunities on a state and national level that I thoroughly enjoyed partaking of. Attending national conferences, annual meetings and participating in all levels of leadership activities and scholarship opportunities have been my focus growing up in the breed. Since running for the AHA Board in 2013 as well as serving as a Vice President for the Texas Hereford Association and past member of the Texas Hereford Auxiliary I been heavily involved in the decision making process that continues to govern our Associations and staffs. Any and all opportunities to promote and support the Hereford breed have been my top priority throughout my career and in my travels both domestically and abroad. I very much enjoy working with our youth and helping create as many opportunities as possible to keep them involved and interested in our breed’s future. Barber Ranch is honored to have had the opportunity to help our youth organization reach their “Growing a Lasting Legacy” through donating this year’s HYFA Foundation Female that recently sold in Denver. We are also donating her full sister to be sold this Sunday in the Cowtown Invitational Sale held during our annual Texas Hereford events in Fort Worth. This will be the first animal donated for proceeds to benefit the newly created Texas Youth Foundation to help award leadership opportunities and scholarships for our youth in Texas.
Why did you want to lead the AHA?
I wanted to lead the AHA because I felt it was an incredible opportunity as a breeder and lifetime member to have the support of my state and southwest region to nominate me for the Board and also to have the time and experience needed to take on this leadership role. I wanted to be involved on an integral level that would allow me to best serve our membership while learning the intricate details of what is involved in the day to day operation and strategic planning for our futures. This was a dream I have had since I was a young member wanting to be more involved and more knowledgeable about our breed and association.
What do you think makes a good leader?
First and foremost to being a good leader is being a good listener. If you cannot understand or know what direction an organization needs to go you cannot be effective at leading them. Staying on top of current industry and global news along with anticipating our next steps and strategic goals is critical to being able to make informed, guided decisions. Having the trust and confidence of your members and colleagues is vital to operating as an effective team. Honesty, integrity and optimal ethical behavior are fundamental to leadership. With over ten committees on our AHA board, delegating is very important along with good communication. An effective team starts at the top and surrounding yourself with capable, creative people is something Jack Ward, AHA CEO, has certainly done. We are very blessed to have what I would deem as the industry’s very best creative minds working on our behalf.
What does your role as president of the AHA entail?
As president my role is to act as Chairman of the Board and preside at all meetings of the membership, the Board of Directors and the executive committee. As such I serve as the ex-officio member of every other standing or temporary committee and select our various committee appointments. Working with AHA staff, we set our spring and summer meetings as well as help plan our annual membership meeting. We are currently updating our strategic plan so working with various individuals on this important task allows me to interact with various industry segments and influencers in and out of our breed.
As one of the only women to serve on the AHA board and the first female president, do you approach issues or problems differently?
I don’t know that I approach issues or problems differently since I really have nothing to compare that to being the first female president; however, I do think a female’s perspective can be a great attribute to a board room and one that I hope is both appreciated and respected. My goal is to effectively and cooperatively find solutions to any issues or problems that arise with empathy and compassion.
What changes and/or advances do you hope to see the AHA make during the next year of your term?
We are being very progressive in our genetic testing and genomic enhancements. I am confident we will continue focusing on programs that will help our members produce genetics that will benefit from economically relevant traits highly sought in all industry segments. Our priority in identifying genetics that can build profitability will remain center plate as well as providing our staff and allied leaders the resources to maintain efficiency of member services. Marketing value based programs will also be a key component to ensuring Herefords are committed to industry demands whereby growing our CHB brand. It will be a great asset to have more feeders and packers aligned with our CHB goals and we have a phenomenal staff in place to achieve this. Equally important is continuing our support of NJHA, HYFA and NHW affiliates and their unparalleled growth in ensuring the next generation stays committed and successful.
Where do you see the Hereford breed going in future years?
With a staff second to none and progressive breeders raising the bar, I see the Hereford breed poised to continue our progress and growth in all areas including membership, registrations and transfers as well as market share in the beef industry through more aggressive Certified Hereford Beef marketing opportunities for our customers. In order to maintain our breed integrity, producers need to be mindful of their mating decisions and utilize all tools at hand including structural and breeding soundness evaluations. We can manage what we measure so the more valuable our tools are the more valuable our breed will be. It is with great gratitude and respect that I thank those who have served on this AHA Board and staff for allowing me, my family and all of us in this rewarding business today to enjoy our livelihoods. I look forward to contributing to future growth, profitability and success for all entities involved!
Travis & Jill Otterstad
Travis and Jill Otterstad have been a huge part of the livestock industry their entire life. A good part of that has been spent behind the scenes.
They have raised champions, including the 2012 champion steer at Ft. Worth. Travis has clipped and fit more champions than most have ever seen. Too many to mention individually. He has mentored others in this industry who have gone on to be successful as well. His eye for good cattle is second to none.
Jill is known for her quality graphic design. Those that have worked with her have many good things to say. Not only does she design catalogs, but is a leading force in the barn heat checking, up all night calving, daily care, not to mention her knowledge of cattle is instrumental at the shows getting the cattle at 12 oclock. •
You can tell a lot about a person by what they have accomplished, how they are respected, and how they give back. Steve Gabel of Eaton, Colorado has dedicated his entire life to not only the livestock industry, but the people that make it up. From opening a well reputed feedyard and serving on multiple agriculture based boards and associations; to coaching a highly successful judging team and raising a family deeply rooted in agriculture, Steve is the epitome of a person who has jumped at the vast opportunities the livestock industry presents and making the most of them. Leading others to follow in his footsteps along the way.
Steve is a man of many talents. From the time he was young, he has always strived for excellence. A “perfectionist” some say. Whether it was being a jockey at the county fair horse races (“Busch Track”) or playing football and wrestling in High School, he never settled for anything less than his best. In fact, after graduating High School, he was the youngest referee to ever ref the State Wrestling Tournament.
For the past 19 years, Steve has coached the Weld County 4-H Livestock Judging team. Through his guidance and ability to help youth sharpen their livestock evaluating and reasoning skills, the team has been a dominating force – consistently landing at the top of the state’s multiple judging contests. Members of Steve’s teams have gone on to be successful at the collegiate level; having many named All American. Individuals that Steve trained have grown up to be collegiate coaches and leaders in numerous facets of the livestock industry.
It is no surprise that Steve and his wife, Audrey’s, children, Christie and Case, have followed in his footsteps. Having found success through their 4-H years in both livestock judging and cattle showing (Case exhibited the Grand Champion Steer at the Colorado State Fair in 2001. Christie exhibited the Grand Champion Steer at the Colorado State Fair in 2003 and the Reserve Champion in 2004), both Gabel children have grown up to live active roles in agriculture.
When asked how he would describe Steve Gabel, his close friend Roger Tuell said, “Tell it like it is.” Steve has built a reputation of being level headed and not wasting a lot of words. As a member of the Colorado Livestock Association, he would always be the liaison on controversial things as he had a way to sort things out.
Whether it was raising a family, running a successful business, or serving as a member, President or Chairmen of numerous boards and associations, Steve has accomplished plenty, is respected by many and given back much. His life has truly added a value to agriculture. •
Agriculture has always been a mainstay in Alan Miller's life. Starting with a base of Angus cattle his grandfather, Adam Schlipf, started in the 1940s (that his father revitalized after his family's focus geared more towards crops in the 1960s), Adam has dedicated his life to the Angus breed and livestock industry as a whole. His passion for Angus started as a junior exhibitor where he established a love for competition and the Junior programs. During his Junior show career, he served on the National Junior Angus Association board of directors.
Prairie View Farms was Alan's opportunity to drive on into the industry that he loved. After his last Junior shows in 1994, at the age of 21, Alan invested in Davis Proven Queen 3026 - the foundation donor for Prairie View Farms.
After graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I), the sky was the limit for PVF. Throughout the years, Alan's operation has produced high quality Angus cattle that have found great success in the show ring.
Today, Alan along with his wife Theresa and children Amelia, Adam and Will continue on with the legacy that is Prairie View Farms.
Like many others in the industry, Alan has made an impact through the combination of hard work and ambition. According to Alan, "The neat thing about the cattle business in my experience is that it provides opportunities where the only limiting factor is yourself."
Alan has judged numerous state and national livestock shows, and has been active in the Illinois Angus Association as sale chairman. On a daily basis, he continues to give back to the industry that we all call home. •
…Passion with Purpose exemplified in life…
by: Larry Wilson
IF one has spent any time with Cindy Cagwin-Johnston, it becomes apparent that she focuses on her passion through the lens of a camera. If one has spent any time with Cindy Cagwin-Johnston you know her “YOUR front foot back…just a tic”; “circle”; May as well take another circle”, and you also know her “Happy Dance” when she gets that perfect pose and is delighted with her quick review. Cindy works her cameras like she works her audience…with Passion and Purpose!
To many she is “the Picture Lady”, to others she is Cindy; and to the Illinois State Fair, she is our “official” Junior Beef Show Photographer! Cindy is sought out by many to capture preview shows, Winter Expos; along with NAILE; the National Western! Junior Nationals; picture pens; Graduation; Prom; Senior photos; not to leave out the candid’s that she catches with her eagle eye that cause some to laugh; some to cry; and even some to pledge “to get even”. Ha.
Cindy’s passion starts LONG before the show in making sure she has the RIGHT Backdrop that “Pops” in the photo without interfering with the subjects. The right backdrop that highlights the cattle and people in the photo. The right backdrop that is neither too big, too small, or too overpowering. Batteries are charged; photo storage is formatted and counted; Lens are cleaned and packed. In most cases Brook Cagwin is co-pilot and recorder; the “ear getter” is on board; her vehicle fueled.
It’s not possible to estimate the number of miles Cindy puts on each year as she travels across the nation making memories for families and friends. Working calmly and diligently with the “first timers” at the backdrop; to directing those experienced showmen and women, Cindy knows intuitively what will make the best photo, capturing that moment in time and forever. WORD TO THE WISE… if Cindy ever invites you into a backdrop photo…there IS a reason….and you may as well jump in! You may never know the exact reason, however Cindy does!
Once the photos are captured, Cindy’s work is just starting as she spends countless hours organizing, sending proofs and delivering the highest quality photos and memories to exhibitors and event sponsors along with posting to facebook for all to enjoy, tag and share…all with a smile on her face and a lump of joy in her throat as people “oh and awe” over the finished product!! Cindy pours her all not only into her photography, but also into her friendships that she has created over the years at the backdrop; around the ring; and across the nation. It is her passion for livestock and people that actually create the persona that we know as Cindy.
Don’t think this is possible? Try showing up to an event that Cindy has shot in the past but for whatever reason could not make it That day…some people just flat refuse to go to the backdrop, ”No, if Cindy is not here, we are not taking a picture.” That plain. That Simple. It’s just not official without “Cindy” on the photo!”
Jerrod Artur is the owner of Lucky Strike Show Cattle in Stillwater, OK. In addition to selling high quality show cattle that have been successful across the country, he also gives back by hosting the Lucky Strike Cattle Camp!
The Handshake is the moment we all live for. I think we can all agree that when that judge comes to shake your hand and tells you that you won the show it truly is one of the best feelings in the world. Well I certainly think so anyway, which is why showing cattle has become such an enormous pert of my life. From the first time I lead a feeder calf in the ring at the Plymouth County Fair when I was four years old, I was hooked. Ever since my life has truly revolved around it, from early mornings at the show to late nights in the barn if it involves show cattle, count me in. My hobbies outside of show cattle include photography, helping with our sale, and spending time with family and friends.
I fell in love with show cattle at an early age. I started showing feeder calves when I was about four years old and have since competed at local, state, and national levels. Even though I have had a lot of success in the show ring it will never compare to the friends and memories I have made in the livestock industry. The things I have learned from the livestock industry will definitely last a lifetime. When I started showing I would never have imagined I would accomplish some of the things I have.
Showing has also changed me as a person. When I first started showing I was a very shy little girl who wouldn’t talk to most people. The livestock industry has taught me how to go up to almost anyone and have a conversation with them. The livestock industry has also taught me other things like hard work, dedication, and the pride in a job well done, because when that judge shakes your hand you know that it was all worth it and you can’t wait to start over for the next show or the next year of shows.
Showing cattle is an enormous magnificent part of my life and it always will be. The friends I have made will last a lifetime and I don’t know what I would do with out them. From being in the ring to standing on the sidelines taking pictures there truly is nothing better than life at a stock show. •
Bremer Show Cattle got its official start in 2003, after Kendall Graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Business. Even though Bremer Show Cattle took off in 2003, Kendall’s start in the show cattle world began at birth. His family has been raising elite Maine-Anjou seed-stock since the 70’s. He got his first taste of “Major” success in 1992, showing K & A Chelsea, a black Maine-Anjou female with white legs, to the Grand Champion spot at the North American. Ever since his first big taste of success, he has been hooked on Freedom Hall and the feeling of Victory when showing cattle at the most elite and competitive show in the Country. Since that start, Bremer Show Cattle has had a hand in over 100 Grand or Reserve Grands at the 3 Major Shows: i.e.. the American Royal in Kansas City, the NAILE in Louisville, and the National Western in Denver.
Right out of college, he started working for K and A, in addition to buying and reselling a few other females. This was to make a little extra money and the business took off from there. At that time, they were selling around 30 females a year with the majority being Maine-Anjou and Maintainer cattle. Several years ago Kendall realized that if they were going to stay successful, two major things were going to need to happen : 1) They would scour the country side for elite females that could be brought home to satisfy the clienteles’ demand for success and 2) diversification would be key to growing the program. Everybody likes to win, but not everybody can. This is true especially if all the cattle sold are showing in the same division. The Bremer program has now been selling over 100 head a year with over 10 breeds being represented.
The cow herd has become diversified as well. They run 120 cows, with more than half being recipient cows that are utilized in an extensive embryo program. He believes that sexed and sexing of semen is the future of raising elite show cattle. Currently about half of the matings are for show steers and the other half are for seed stock. The impact from the majority of cattle being produced for a the targeted sex will have a huge economic impact on the whole industry.
“My favorite part about this whole business is watching the youth of the country grow up and get ready for the real world showing cattle” Kendall says, “No other activity will teach a youngster life lessons like showing a calf. " Selling 100 head of show heifers a year is going to slow down in the future as Kendall transitions into the family life. By the time this article is printed, a wedding will have taken place, and Kendall will have married Jessica Street. Bremer Show Cattle will gain some long term members, and Kendall can’t wait to watch the children grow up showing livestock.
Kendall would like to add another 80 cows to the program in the future and looks to start a bred heifer sale with RJ Cattle Company from South Dakota. Look for the sale to be in Dunlap, Iowa around the first of December. He will have at least 2 online sales this fall and one next spring with a few of the show heifers being offered on afirst come basis.
eWhen asked what his favorite win is he couldn’t come up with one. “There are several big wins and they all hold a special place in my heart. The biggest win is no question Supreme Female in the Junior Show at the North American last fall. Now we just need to do it with one we raise.”
Kendall attributes his success to the guidance and work ethic of his father. “Dad is a major part of this and he makes everything go. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about breeding decisions or jumping in the pickup to go look at one that’s going to cost too much, we do it all together. The business I grew up in was a family business and this will continue be just that.”
He would like to thank all of his many customers that put their faith in him for calf selection and guidance over the years. “I’m pretty lucky to have had the customer base we do. No question, I get to work with the best kids and families in the business. Thanks will never be enough for all they do for me. When you sign up at Bremer Show Cattle you buy more than a calf, you join a family!”
In today's society, many people downplay the notion of working with their family. Contrary to the belief that it is better to cut family ties in business, the agriculture industry has insight to the fact that the harmony of a family working together can produce a successful and strong business unmatched by anything else. Mid Continent Farms is a fifth generation farm family located in Washington, Kansas. The MCF partnership raises and sells show steers and breeding stock across the United States. The entire operation is a family effort composed of Gregg and Debbie Stewart along with their three boys, Garrett, Brigham, and Tucker; Conrad and Deanna Stewart; and brother, Kent Stewart, with his children Derek and Devon. Each member contributes in their own way to help make MCF the operation it is today.
Mid Continent Farms is more than a cattle ranch. With roots dating back to the 1950's when Gregg and Kent were traveling as members of the Colby Community College and Kansas State University livestock judging teams, they networked with cattle producers across the country during judging practice to get their cattle business started. From A.I. work to purchasing cattle, the Stewarts operation was well under way when Gregg and Kent were only seventeen and nineteen years old. Being centrally located, the name "Mid Continent Chianina" was coined by their Colby Community College teammate Dennis Aherin, but was later changed to Mid Continent Farms as the Stewarts expanded their business to include multiple breeds. MCF received business from coast to coast and from Canada to Central America. Now, over half a century later, Mid Continent Farms still offers the quality and service that it was first founded on. For the Stewart family, it is more than just selling cattle; it is supporting their show families with everything from show day preparation to feed management. It is working together as a team to be the best possible.
If you are ever in Eastern Kansas or run into one of the Stewarts at a livestock event, it is obvious that there is a passion and dedication to what they do - whether it is in the show ring, promoting a bull in the yards at Denver, working at the ranch, or supporting a customer. Michael J. Fox once said, "Family is not an important thing. It's everything." Mid Continent Farms and the Stewart Family have based their lives on this statement, combined it with the breeding and promotion of cattle, and, as a result, impacted the livestock industry as a whole with their genetics and expertise.
"We register Maine-Anjou, Shorthorn, Charolais, Simmental, Angus, and Chianina, plus a handful of Herefords. MCF owns 1,500 head of cattle representing various composites of the breeds and farms 1,500 acres of tillable ground. Our focus is on cattle but farming is in our blood.
We have always taken a practical approach to raising show steers We are a little more mainstream than the show industry! We utilize Embryo Transfer to raise most of our show steers but with the flip of a switch and use of a different sire those same donors will produce our outstanding females and show heifers. we focus on the main cow herd to continue bettering our genetic base and producing good cattle and have always been a go to place to find the kind of females that are easily mated to the bulls of today. If you come to our sale there may be a few sires that you haven't heard of but within a couple years those are the females that raise our cattle.
We have recently moved our entire Angus herd (250 + cows) from Western Nebraska to Washington; and that was quite an undertaking. This move will allow us to focus a little more on that side of our business and be able to make better breeding decisions because we are more involved with them. They are still owned with Ron Jones of Benkelman, Nebraska and we will continue to have our bull sale there. He will grow the cattle and get the heifers up to breeding age from this time on and we will calve and handle the breeding and marketing. We have a lineup of bulls from the past and now that make our Angus herd cutting edge and a perfect outcross to most of the Angus cattle out there including: OCC Doctor, Hot Rod, JSAR Rodman, Journey, JSAR Titan, and Opportunity. You will no doubt see more from these great sires in the future of our operation.
We have been in the hunt or won nearly every major show in America in the last 20 odd years and have a lineup of cattle that will be for sale this fall that proves we are still in the game and strive to produce high quality cattle. We can't wait to preview them to you this fall."
Debbie Stewart is the grease that keeps MCF running. She handles all of the bookwork and toughest jobs including registrations, accounting, paperwork and keeping the boys in line. People that know her will confirm that the ranch would not be here today without her. When she is not working, she loves watch the Voice, hanging out with her family, and is an excellent cook.
Gregg Stewart is the backbone of the operation. He is the major decision maker, handles all the business transactions, and is an integral part of getting stuff done and making the business grow and continue to get better.
The Brandon Horn family has a long connection with raising cattle and showing livestock. Even though Jagger Horn began showing steers in 2010, the tradition goes much farther back than that. Two of Jagger’s great-grandfathers and both of Jagger’s grandfathers were heavily involved in the raising of cattle and livestock showing. Now, Jagger, his father and the rest of the family are carrying on the family tradition.
In February of 2015, Jagger and “The General” received the Grand Champion award at San Angelo Livestock Show and Rodeo. Then, within the next week, Jagger and “White Hammer” won San Antonio Livestock Show. The excitement continued in January of 2016 when Jagger and his calf “Moses” were selected as the Reserve Grand Champion at the National Western in Denver, Colorado. Most recently, Jagger and “Big Boy” won the Grand Champion honors at the Fort Worth Stock Show.
Winning is always exciting, but some wins hold a special meaning. This was the case at the National Western in January. It had been exactly 30 years since Brandon Horn and his calf “Spot” had won Grand Champion at the National Western. This year’s win for Jagger brought back some precious and painful memories for the Horn family. The Denver show win in 1986 for Brandon came less than a year after his father and mentor, Larry, unexpectedly passed away at the Oklahoma Youth Expo. So the National Western has always had a special place in the Horn family history. Jagger getting to follow in his father’s footsteps was very special for both he and his father.
Brandon, Brek, Jagger (14) and Aven (10) continue the family tradition by owning and operating Horn Livestock. Both Brandon’s, father, Larry Horn and Brek’s father, Bill Binder were agriculture science teachers. Brek and Brandon raised and showed cattle while growing up. They even competed against each other before they knew each other. After they were grown, they met each other at a stock show. Jagger has a banner in his room that he inherited from his great- grandfather, Lawrence Binder, from the 1940 Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. Times may have changed but the family has not. They are still very heavily rooted in agriculture.
Horn Livestock, just south of Anson, Texas is truly a family business. Brandon keeps busy with around 250 cows. Brek does the bookkeeping and financial end of the business when not working at the barn. The kids work with their cattle daily and are involved in sports and church activities.
Both children have college in their future. Jagger already owns some cows and wants to continue the family business. Aven is not as sure with her goals for the future yet. However, both college degrees will more than likely be agriculture related.
Even though the work is long and hard, Jagger and Aven both enjoy showing cattle and are looking forward to continuing the family tradition.
Here are a few pictures that I have from Brandon's win in Denver 1986. In the last attachment, the guys are Bob May, the late, great Wes Stover (Brandon's ag teacher), Mark Copus, and Colby Horn.
I thought the second picture, the one where he is walking his steer, might look cool beside the one yall have of Jagger walking his steer.
Also - Heidi Anderson took a ton of pictures of us this year at Denver. I tried to find them online to purchase and wasn't able to...maybe you can help me on where to go to purchase those.
I'm still working on the article...it's not very long, but I figure that is better...I included the Ft. Worth win for us...hope that is ok!
Amy Cowan -
I have so enjoyed working with the Jensen family and watching Brady, Brooke and Ben grow up through the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA). I remember when each of them entered the show ring for the first time at the Junior National Hereford Expo and now I have had the opportunity to work with them on the leadership level. As well with Brady leading the NJHA as chairman in 2014, Brooke being elected to the NJHA board last summer and with Ben attending his first Faces of Leadership Conference in Colorado last summer. It is really neat to see the junior members and board members you work so closely with grow into leaders and continue to be leaders after their year’s of service to the NJHA are over. Brady Jensen has done just that as he retired from the board in July and already had his leadership role at K-State in place as he helped coach the successful livestock judging team this fall. I have no doubt this will not be the last leadership success story we will hear from the Brady as he works to complete his master’s degree in genetics.
One thing that sticks out in my mind when talking about the Jensen family is just that, they are a close knit family. Their family has accomplished so much by working together as team. The Jensen family takes a great deal of PRIDE in everything they do. It was so neat last summer to watch Brady step down from the podium after his retiring remarks on the NJHA board and walk out into the audience to hand off his maroon jacket to his little sister and congratulate her on being elected to the board. Already, in Brooke’s short tenure on the NJHA board the Pride she has in the Hereford breed and our junior program is very evident and she takes her job as an NJHA Board member very seriously. Although Brady’s group left big shoes to fill, I am confident Brooke and the newly elected group will do great things throughout their 3-year term.
Each year, the Hereford Youth Foundation of America (HYFA) highlights the Denver sale with the Lot 1 female and the proceeds from this sale support the future of the Hereford breed and our young leaders. I can’t think of a more fitting scenario than to sell a female from the heart of the Jensen family program. From a family that has given so much to the NJHA and the American Hereford Association over the years, it makes this year’s lot extra special and is such a great example of what the foundation stands for. Building leaders is what the NJHA and foundation is all about and Brady, Brooke and Ben Jensen are taking a lifetime involvement in the NJHA and the Hereford breed to define leadership become the best young leaders they can be.
Jack Ward -
Loyal, enthusiastic, dedicated, competitive, hard working and deep rooted in the livestock industry are all words that describe the Jensen family. Kevin, Sheila, Brady, Brooke and Ben have a family pedigree that is built by generations of great minds and visionaries for the beef cattle industry, and Kevin and Sheila have been able to keep their family active in all parts of the industry. It starts at the ranch where this family’s operation is home to one of the strongest set of Hereford cows that are capable of producing a national champion, but more importantly, are focused on economically relevant traits that will make their commercial customers profitable.
From a genetics standpoint, the Jensen family keeps an eye on details and uses all tools available to make breeding decisions including EPD, genomics and type to produce cattle that work for their customers. They are clear thinkers and keep a balanced approach to their selections.
Kevin and Sheila have both served as judges across the US and internationally and it is exciting to see Brady following in the footsteps as one of the exciting young judges. This family is dedicated to junior programs and they have certainly been loyal to the Hereford breed. Brady has served as a past chairman of the National Junior Hereford board of directors and Brooke is currently serving as on the board. Kevin and Sheila have been huge supporters of the program as they have seen the benefits it has given their children and this year, they along with Dylan and Chelsea Evans will donate the Hereford Youth of America Foundation heifer that will be sold in the Mile High Sale, Denver, to help support Hereford youth and events for years to come.
Kevin and his family are friends and I consider them great assets to the industry. They collectively have been great spokesmen, mentors and leaders to all parts of agriculture and youth programs.
John & Jeannie Griswold
The first time I “really” met John Griswold is one I will never forget. He pulled up to REI (Reproductive Enterprise Incorporated) in Stillwater, Oklahoma in a beat up old tan Buick. He had on a Hawaiian shirt, an old baseball cap and a few days stubble on his face. John had just driven all night from South Dakota and hadn’t been home to shower or sleep. After we looked through the bulls at REI John took us to his car to go look at cattle. John had to bang hard on the passenger door to get it to open and let my dad in and then get inside and reach over across the back seat to open the back door from the inside for me. He spent all day showing us cattle. One thing that hit me is how John wasn’t in to keeping up appearances (He still drives that car). Dad and I were headed to Kirk Duff’s and John asked me to text him if I saw anything that I thought he needed to own. That was John’s way of getting my phone number. From there it started a friendship that turned into more.
In November, John laid over in Utah after a trip to Montana to look at Dad’s sale cattle. John called me from the airport to see if someone could please come and get him, because his drivers license was expired and that he couldn’t rent a car. Beaver and Salt Lake are 250 miles apart. I showed up to pick him up with my boyfriend. John has said that whatever chance he thought he had, at that point certainly was gone. I had no intentions of romance with John Griswold but God saw it differently. Before John left he asked if he could buy me a steak in Denver in 5 weeks at the Denver Stock Show. There was still no intentions of romance, I just really enjoyed talking to him. John flew home before our sale but called after to see how it had gone.
I grew up hearing the name John Griswold. My dad thought the world of him. John had gone to Denver with Cal Herring to help him with his feeder steers and Dad (Gib Yardley) and Cal had pens next to one another. That was before dad was married and I was yet to be a twinkle in his eye. Dad and John stayed good friends through the years and Denver was always a place to rekindle old friendships. Dad got married when he was 47 and started having a family. He once told John the best thing he had done was having kids and that he needed to settle down and find a wife. Little did Dad know what would transpire from those seeds he planted. John has told me several times that Denver was when he would sit down and reflect on his life. Each year he came to the conclusion, “I’m still doing okay, I’m not as old as Gib was when he got married.” John ended up taking me for a for a steak dinner in Denver, I felt like I had known him my whole life. It was in Denver that Dad’s words came full circle. A year later John and I took our honeymoon to Denver.
John grew up in Livingston, Wisconsin. He was the oldest of six. His dad, Joe Griswold, set the example and standard for John that would take him through his life. From the time they were young, he and his brother Greg had to do chores every morning before school. He tells our kids the story often of going out and having the tractor tires being frozen. About the thud they made going around, the sound of the snow crunching as he walked out, the burn in his lungs because of the cold. His dad never referred to them as boys, but rather he called them “men.” John is still an early riser and he loves to work.
John wrote in our sale letter the following, “Our parents, Joe and Elaine, brought our family to Oklahoma in the early eighties. At first they questioned if they had made the right choice. I could kiss them everyday for that decision. It was a move that forever shaped our lives and our story.” Those next few years brought a lot of change for the Griswold family. They dropped John off at college the same time as the move from Wisconsin to Oklahoma. John attended Joe’s Alma Mater, Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. John said, ““Dad always told us, ‘When you go to college, it’s who you meet that’s important.’ And that has played out in our lives and operation just like he said it would.” The people he met while in college are still some of his closest friends and business associates.
When his dad dropped him off at school he gave him $300. He said it was more money than he had ever dreamed of. He kept it in his glove compartment and it lasted him all semester. He would load his clothes in a suitcase and take them down to the laundry mat. He will be the first to tell you he was green. It was while in college that he started to trade on steers and where he found his start in the industry.
Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers. This is a philosophy that has carried John throughout his life; he surrounds himself with good people. Mike Willham was supposed to clip Denver feeder steers for Cal Herring. Mike had taken a full time job and couldn’t do it. He called Cal and suggested John. Cal said, “I don’t know.” Cal wondered if he would be good enough and almost hired Bobby Smith. When Bobby couldn’t go out, Cal got John. With that, a 20-year-old boy from Wisconsin headed to Wyoming and became lifelong friends with Cal Herring. John remembered Cal heading to town every afternoon with two head and washing those because there was no heat out at the ranch. The next day, John would clip the two that had been washed the day before outside. This was in Encampment, Wyoming in January. “I helped the Loomis family with their steer selection and clipping and they had a real successful run. Then I worked for Cal Herring in Denver, the year they had the champion and reserve champion pen of feeder steers. Those two associations really stand out to me, as I look back on how things evolved,” recalls John. John would go on to buy steers from Cal and trade on them back in Stillwater. One year Joe rode out to pick up a goose neck load of steers and John told his dad, “If I can make $5,000 I would be tickled pink.” He made it. To this day John will attribute his start to Cal Herring. From Cal’s he went on to clip for Hilbert’s. John says that if you clipped for Hilbert’s, you could clip. “Stierwalt, Bobby May, everybody that ever clipped back in the day clipped for Hilbert,” he says. John will be the first to tell you he was scared to death to take on that job.
Time marched on and the hard work and cow savvy of Joe Griswold started to pay off in John’s life. “Dad had a dispersal sale in the early eighties and Todd Thrasher went and bought the 25 best cows that Dad had in the sale. We sat next to him and told him which cows were the producers and which cows to buy,” John said. Another deal came up for Thrasher that allowed John to buy back 17 head. Those females would stand as a foundation for our Griswold cow base. 066 was one of those cows. She proved invaluable to putting the new generation of Griswold Brothers on the map. She is the granddam of Chill Factor and there are over 50 direct granddaughters of this history making matriarch. Her influence is still heavily seen in many top sellers at Griswold Cattle. “If they have 066 in the pedigree, they’re good,” says Greg Griswold. Over a span of 17 years, Chill Factor is still a go-to maternal sire.
Through the 90’s, John and his brothers scoured the Nation and Canada for good cattle. One of John’s best friends is Merle Morris from Montana. He recalls buying 10 head of heifers for $475 a heifer from him; that will tell you how much times have changed. About that time, John traded on a lot of cows and steers, covered a lot of country and made a lot of lifelong friends. One year he brought seven loads out of Canada. Some of those cows went to Fred DeRouchy. They had the Tykia prefix we all became so familiar with. He also spent a lot of time clipping for Stray Creek Brangus with Jeff Boddiker, Mike Dethridge, and Danny May. Some of John’s favorite people and favorite stories come from those days.
In 2001, John and his brothers began marketing cattle through Christy Collins Exposure Sale. A move that really elevated their program.
2001 was also the year that Griswold Brothers acquired the Birkeland cowherd. When we had our dispersal sale, John wrote the following in his letter to our customers. “I want to start this letter by thanking Ken Birkeland. Ken has been in charge of this herd of cows since we bought them in 2001. This cow base has been intact since Ken’s father Cliff traded some Hereford’s for a set of Angus cows from Clayton Jennings, of Highmore, SD back in the 50’s. They started AI’ing in the early 70’s and held several bull sales. I went there for a lot of years, and of all the places I went, I thought the Birkland herd was the best herd of cows I knew about. In the spring of ‘01 I called Gary and asked him how cheap those cows were in Faith (South Dakota), because we were buying and trading on cows. About three or four weeks later, Gary called and said ‘I might sell our cow herd.’ I told my dad and he said you better leave right now. I hurried and took a shower, grabbed a change of clothes, and left for South Dakota. I called Ed Burke and told him about the deal and Ed stayed there for four days with me. He stayed there and helped get them bought. Ed told me there are two are three deals that come along in a person’s lifetime that defines your life; and we both knew that this one was mine. In 2001, we bought 1309 pairs and 365 yearling heifers. All of those cattle originated from those original 70 head - they had never bought a heifer calf.
It was unbearable dry the first year and we sold off and culled a lot of those. When we branded there was 4 to 5 inches of dust in the pens. We farmer flopped all of those calves, my brother David and Tyson Vantrese were there and threw most of those calves. The only thing that was white on them was their eyes and their teeth, everything else was completely black.”
It was right around this same time in 2002 that a major game changer came into play. The Exposure sale would market one of the most influential bulls to ever hit the industry. They sold half-interest in a three-quarter Maine bull that Todd Thrasher and Dale Newman raised named Irish Whiskey.
“Irish Whiskey gave a new look to Maine cattle. He didn’t just make them good, he made them great. The first year we bred Whiskey to the Birkeland cows we used him on the ‘absolute shit’ and the following fall all the best calves were Whiskey’s. His first calf crop started the Whiskey craze nationwide. The next year we bred everything to him,” said John.
(I would add a picture of Irish Whiskey here)
One of my favorite stories John tells took place around 2002. It characterizes John’s personality of seeing talent greater than his own. John and Greg had bred a couple cows to Double Vision and Greg got one of his college buddies Bruce West to come down and clip those heifers. John said, “I walked into that clipping room after he’d been clipping and couldn’t believe anyone could clip liked that. She looked unbelievable. He just knew what he was doing. From that day forward Bruce was the main clipper. I knew I didn’t know near as much about clipping as he did. I’d always been in there clipping but after I saw him I knew I couldn’t clip like that.” It was while Bruce was clipping at the barn that a young talent named Nick Riemann came to OSU for college and worked out at the barn. They all created friendships that will last the test of time. John was like a proud parent over the success that Nick found after college. Losing Nick was and is one of the hardest things I have ever seen John deal with. Nick was a dreamer, a doer, a believer.
In 2005, Griswold Cattle reached another milestone when they purchased 500 cows from Tim Ohlde. John recalls, “I stopped to buy semen from Tim on my way to Dupree. I ended up spending the whole day helping him haul pairs and looking at some great Angus cattle. During the day, he told me the cows were for sale. My brothers and I saw this as a real opportunity. It didn’t take long for us to arrange to buy the OCC females.” John’s brother Greg’s true love is good Angus cattle. He knows them like the back of his hand, and can tell you how a cow is bred generations back without ever seeing an ear tag or a freeze brand. From that day on, Greg handled all the registered Angus cattle and a pretty intensive ET program. Those females would prove pivotal to the success of making percentage cattle with a good solid Angus base.
One thing always leads to another and the acquisition of the OCC cow base led to the Grass to Grid bull sale held with Jeff Bourquin in Follett, Texas. When John’s phone rings and he says “Hello Jeffery” and you hear Jeff’s deep belly laugh you can’t help but smile. If you know Jeff, you know what I mean. John and him talk often about everything from the market to the happenings of the cow world. Jeff buys thousands of feeder cattle and calves every year. When a sale first got talked about he needed quality bulls for his customers and he liked the type of cattle that we were raising. After a lot of talking, John and him struck a deal to hold the sale in Follett. We will market 200 head of bulls this spring.
In 2008 John went with Greg Burden to go see a Simmental bull, SVF Steel Force. They bought that bull with Ratcliff Farms of Vinita, Oklahoma. This would be the beginning of one of the most dominant sires the Simmental breed had seen. Steel Force progeny have won every major show across the nation and demanded top dollar in both progeny and semen sales. He is still a major force to be reckoned with and a major part of the Griswold story. He’s buried up under a tree at the show barn. He deserved to stay at the place, he more than earned it.
Another opportunity arose in 2010 when Griswold Cattle had the chance to form a partnership with Kim Klotz of Seward, Nebraska. Klotz has tremendous knowledge of pricing, hedging and corn prices as well as oversees the financial end of the company. More than that, he’s a good friend and huge support to our program. John rolls most of his business decisions through two people, his dad and Kim Klotz.
In 2013, we made the decision to sell the South Dakota cows. I still to this day don’t know if I have ever seen a prettier set of cows. John took a lot of pride in them; he and his brothers along with Ken Birkeland and a great crew had spent years developing them. South Dakota and Ken held more memories and heart strings for John than any one place or person. He sent me a text once that read, “I was born Wisconsin, we live in Oklahoma, you’ll bury me in Utah, but my heart will always be in South Dakota.” He wrote in our sale catalog that year, “Ken has been the best friend and is almost a idol to me and most of the people that have gone to South Dakota to help. He knows more about cattle than any man I have ever known. Ken, I want you to know that leaving you in South Dakota this fall was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
John loves cows, more than any person I have ever known. He has irons in more fires than most people ever dream of. His mind works a million miles an hour, twenty-four hours a day and he’s always looking for the “next great one” in both cattle and opportunity. We ranch in Stillwater and this past year had a great opportunity to lease a ranch in Poteau, Oklahoma from our partner Kim Klotz. I drug my feet pretty hard on the Poteau deal. We had just sold all the South Dakota cows to tone down our program; the last thing I wanted was more cows. John has vision and I trust him, so we took the lunge. We love Poteau. We spend a lot of time on the road back and forth. It’s just a lot shorter drive for us to make from Stillwater, Oklahoma to Poteau than it is to Dupree, South Dakota. It’s a new challenge, and John loves that part of it.
John doesn’t know I wrote this. I’m sure I’ve left out plenty of people that have shaped and influenced him. John believes in people. He believes in their ability to achieve and make decisions and he puts a lot of faith in them. Our crew we have now is second to none. They do a great job. We were in the hospital in Boston with our little boy for about two months this summer. John never left his side except to sleep at night. His ability to do that is because of the people we have in place at home and with the cattle. He told me he never had to worry that things weren’t being taken care of. We run a decent sized outfit, so that is a huge statement. When we finally got to come home he went and scoped things out. That night he told me, “You ought to see it. Everything is just like it should be.” Fence had been built, the cattle had been worked, and the hay had been taken care of. They are our employees, but more than that they are part of our success, they are our friends, our family.
More than anything that John has accomplished, he’s most proud of his Maggie and Garrett. He takes them everywhere. Garrett wakes up in the morning and the first thing he says is “Dadda” and “moo.” John takes being a dad as his most important job; he’s dang good at it. We’ve seen a lot of miles together and even more cattle. He’s packed our kids to producer meetings, stock shows, and cattle sales across the Nation. He waited a long time to start a family and he truly values them.
John has said, “There are several things that I can attribute to our success. I would say the number one thing is persistence and hard work. I’ve seen a lot of people with way more talent than I have that went by the wayside, because they didn’t have the persistence to see their vision through. My favorite saying is, ‘It’s not what happens to you in life, It’s what you do with it when it does.’ This means that no matter if it’s good or bad, keep your feet on the ground and keep going. A certain amount of luck was involved as we were in the right place at the right time to find great cattle. Ed Burke told me, ‘There will be two or three big deals in your life that will determine where your life ends up. Whether you do them or you don’t.’ Those few events have been pivotal to our success. Our parents instilled in us responsibility and work ethic. People are the key to success—just like dad told us. The folks we have met, who we have done business with and the many, many friends and customers we have are responsible for our achievements. Our employees and those that are associated with our program have been and will continue to be vital to our accomplishments.”
I love you Johnny. I hope this reads all right for you. There are two men I think hung the moon: one is my dad and the other is you. I couldn’t think of anyone I would rather go through this crazy adventure with. Thanks for finding me love; it’s been a heck of ride!
Jeannie does all the advertising for Yardley Cattle and Griswold Cattle. She does a lot on the catalogs for both outfits also, which is a huge job. Her knowledge of cattle is amazing. She knows about pulling calves, breeding cows, etc. But her opinion on the type of cattle she likes is what I really love about her. She knows what she likes and she won’t waver as fads and different EPDs and numbers come and go. She wants good looking, easy doing cattle that will grow. She thinks you can tell way more about cattle by just looking and studying them instead of making all your selection on numbers.
I’m not sure how she does the balancing act of mom, wife and cattle, but I can tell you she’s awesome at all of it. Our kids love her so much it’s amazing. Garrett was really sick this summer and they way he looked at Jeannie when they layed in that hospital bed and said “maama” was endearing. Maggie won’t let her out of her sight and mom is the light of her life. I can tell you she’s an amazing wife! She puts her family before herself and she wants her family to be happy and healthy.
Jeannie is a very strong person of faith and she keeps me and the kids on the straight and narrow! I love her more than I could ever say in words. She changed my life and I’m very proud to call her my wife! Jeannie and the kids go with me all the time and I’m pretty sure our kids won’t know about anything other than cattle, because in this house we live and breath cattle.
As exhibitors fit their calves in preparation for the much anticipated 2015 Iowa State Fair Market Steer Show, The Showtimes sat down with State Fair Ambassador Don Greiman in the cozy beef superintendent’s office located on the northeast side of the Cattle Barn. Nearing 89-years-old, Greiman has led a life actively tied to the cattle industry. From serving on the Iowa State Fair Board for 44 years to being highly involved with the Angus Breed as both a producer and as a voting delegate (where he hasn’t missed a meeting in 59 years), it appears that everything he is associated with encompasses cattle and has the reputation for excellence. Greiman’s rich history in the cattle arena dates back a few generations to when his grandfather laid the foundation to where the Greiman family is today. As Don began to tell us his story on that uncharacteristically chilly Iowa Summer day, we were all hanging on to his every word in interest, captivation, and ultimately respect.
Wanting to escape the religious persecution in Germany, the Greiman family made their way to the United States when Don’s grandfather was 9-months-old. Having to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a three-and-a-half to four-month journey by sail boat, Don’s grandfather was the only child under two-years-old to survive the trip. Landing in New Orleans, the family sailed up the Mississippi River to East Central Iowa where his grandfather and four brothers decided to settle. After making root in Garner, Iowa, Don’s grandfather grew up to marry another German immigrant and raise a farm family consisting of 14 children – 10 boys and 4 girls (Addis, Don’s father was the 13th born). All of which grew up to maturity.
The Greiman name has always been tied to agriculture. While Don’s grandfather’s farm was comprised of predominately high quality Percheron horses and Shorthorn cattle. At the time, the Shorthorns were a big, rough looking breed that are not what we are used to seeing today. When it came time to sell the cattle, his grandfather would ship the calves by train to the huge Union Stockyards in Chicago. On a particular shipment of carload of his Shorthorn fat cattle to the Chicago market in 1893, his grandfather saw a poster advertising the sale of purebred yearling Angus bull calves was being held on the shores of Lake Michigan. His grandfather was excited to have his first opportunity to see this new breed of cattle, and took a trolley across town from the Union Stockyards to the Columbian Exposition grounds. He fell in love with the first sight!
Don’s grandfather immediately observed that these Angus appeared earlier maturing and smoother finishing, which would mean less time on feed and a more desirable carcass. He quickly decided that he could take the money from the sale of his fat cattle and purchase on of these Angus bull calves. He selected what he thought were three best bull calves to be sold, but when the bidding began, the opening bids were more than he received for all his carload of cattle on the fat market. He returned home quire dejected, but he never gave up.
Don’s eyes sparkled as he led into the introduction of Angus cattle into their family’s operation. A while after the sale in Chicago, his grandfather saw a note at the local elevator advertising a man wanting to trade an Angus bull in return for a Percheron stallion. Having quality Percheron horses of their own, Don’s grandfather lined up to make the trade of one of his top Percheron stallions in return for the bull. It was his opportunity to get his feet wet in the breed that he so desperately wanted. At that time, letters where the main source for communication rather than telephones. After some correspondence, they had agreed to ship each other their respected animal via train – sight unseen. When the day came to pick up the bull, Don’s grandfather and six of his sons went to the train station. When the door opened, you can image the shock on their faces when a four-month-old hairy Angus bull calf was there to greet them. Many friends and people that knew them joked about how the Greiman’s got “snookered” having sent a top end Percheron stallion for a little calf.
Little did they know that that one calf would develop nicely into a bull that they used on their Shorthorn cows. While other producers were getting $4.00/100 for their cattle, the calves that the Greiman’s had crossed with that Angus bull were selling for $7.00/100 – nearly double! The buyers in Chicago said they would never have trouble selling their calves at a premium price if they brought that same quality! At that revelation, Don’s grandfather proclaimed, “We ain’t gonna do nothing but Angus.” And that is just what they did. While Don’s grandfather had Purebred Angus, it was not until his father, Addis, began to work with his cattle that they began to register the cattle.
When Don’s father, uncles and aunts turned 21, they each received 160 acres of land right there in Garner, Iowa from their parents. Now with land of his own and the love for Angus in his blood, Addis acted upon his want to raise registered Angus cattle. At the time, Fred Hanhe, the Editor for the Angus Journal was a mentor of Don’s father and advocated how the Angus breed was comprised of “good individuals and good genetics. It’s like a building, you need a good foundation.” From that point forward, the Greiman family has never slowed down with the Angus breed. While his father exhibited at district fairs to promote their Angus - which were still a fairly new breed - he himself began showing at the county level at the age of 10. While they lived very close to the Minnesota border, they would show at the Minnesota State Fair where there were not many Angus breeders as a way to advertise their genetics. Addis had a keen eye when it came to cattle; a trait that has been passed down for many generations.
Don began college at Iowa State University in 1947. He then had to defer his enrollment, having to return home to Garner to help his father who had got ulcers in World War II. He returned to school and graduated in 1952. While at ISU, he was a member of the livestock and meats judging team. In fact, he was a member of the 1951 National Champion Meats Judging Team. It was his roll as a livestock evaluator that ultimately led to his position on the Iowa State Fair Board.
In 1965, Don was attending the American Royal Livestock Show. While watching the Purebred Angus Show, the Secretary-Manager of the Iowa State Fair Board approached him, and told him that he needed his help because the Iowa State Fair Board did not have anyone on the Board involved with the production of any species of purebred livestock. Don was appalled to think that Iowa raised so much livestock and that it was such an important part of the Fair, and not to have the purebred industry more involved on the Iowa State Fair Board. One of the interesting aspects of the Iowa State Fair is that it is the only State Agency that has its Board not be politically appointed, but elected by popularity in each of the state’s six districts. Before he knew it, Don held the position and was well on his way to 44 years of service. He has the record of being the longest tender of being a Board member, and one of two to ever be President of the Board two different times. After retiring from the Board, he was appointed an Ambassador. He has the distinction of not missing a day at the Iowa State Fair in forty-nine years, and has missed attending only eight years of his eighty-nine years of life.
It is easy to see as either an exhibitor or simple attendee of the Iowa State Fair, that the fair as a whole is ran right. Much of this overall success is due in part to the continuity of the Iowa State Fair Board. Just as Don’s roots go back to that of the livestock industry and producing purebred livestock, the board as a whole is constructed of individuals that live the life they are representing at the State Fair. Just as a good foundation is required for a good Angus program, a good foundation is required for a top notch State Fair.
To say that Don’s involvement in agriculture is extensive and that he fits well into a leadership roll would be an understatement. Throughout his life he has made a notable difference by serving on multiple boards - including the American Angus Association Board of Directors (which he sat on during the initiation of the Certified Angus Beef program), the Iowa Beef Breeds Council, the Iowa Farmers Grain Dealers Board, the Hancock County Beef Producers Association, the North Central Iowa Angus Association, and the Iowa State University Alumni Association. Last year, he was honored to receive an award by the American Angus Association at their annual meeting for the Greiman Family’s contribution to the advancement and improvement of the Angus Breed. Another prestigious recognition Don has received for his involvement with the Iowa State Fair came in 2009 when he was presented with the Heritage Award by the International Association of Fairs and Expositions; which is their highest honor. The list of organizations taking note to Don’s influential life in agriculture does not end there. He has been given the Iowa 4-H Alumni Award and was inducted into both the Iowa 4-H and the Association of Iowa Fairs’ Hall of Fames. Don’s active lifestyle expands past the livestock industry to his community as well, where he takes an active role with his church and the local Rotary Club. He is a strong supporter of Iowa State athletics where he has been an ISU season ticket holder for both football and basketball for 55-years – and he rarely misses a game. In fact, his license plate reads “True Fan.”
Don Greiman is more than a State Fair Ambassador, past State Fair Board Member, or Angus Producer. He is a man that has taken his family’s base and love for agriculture and the Angus breed and built off of it to help grow the next generations of agricultural enthusiast. Don and his wife Yvonne have passed the responsibility of the operation of the over a century old Purebred Angus Herd and the farm operation to their son Ted, and daughter-in-law, Mary. With the success they have already accomplished by taking the Angus herd to the next level. Grandsons, Cole and Kyle Greiman, 5th generation producers, have both shown the Grand Champion Bred and Owned Angus Female at the National Junior Angus Show in 2010 and 2011. It will be fun to see what marks the Greiman family makes next on the livestock industry. As Don prepared to take Laurie on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Iowa State Fair – which had just been voted as the top state fair in the country by our readers for the second time - and the rest of us geared up to cover the steer show, we were left with the words of Tim Hindel, the beef superintendent whose office we had been meeting in, “Don Greiman is the Iowa State Fair.”
- Be sure to order a copy of Don Greiman’s book, “A Blue Ribbon Life: Memories of the Iowa State Fair” to read more about Greiman and the Iowa State Fair.