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. •