Tag Archives: Nebraska Cornhuskers

Who will be the Scott Frost of the beef industry?

I got to know Dr. Richard Raymond serving on Tyson Fresh Meat’s Farm Check animal wellbeing committee. A native of the Nebraska Sandhills, Doc served as Undersecretary for Food Safety at the US Department of Agriculture from 2005-2008. A blended background in medical practice, food production, and regulatory savvy makes for an interesting perspective and Doc has a natural ability to always leave me thinking…

Last weekend, I popped open my facebook account to find a Feedstuffs article that he authored. The title “Frost Returns to Nebraska” caught my attention as any true Nebraskan is aware that the Cornhuskers recently hired Coach Scott Frost to lead our football team back to greatness.  A former Husker quarterback, Frost led Nebraska to its last national championship game twenty years ago. I remember it vividly as it was my first football season on the farm in Nebraska.

The Big Red Nation has gathered around Coach Frost in support, and the hope of a return to greatness permeates the hearts of the 1,896,190 residents that call the Cornhusker state home. I never understood the united pull of loyalty toward a football team until I moved to Husker country. It seems that all 77,220 square miles of prairie bleeds red on game day as fans from all across the state unite to cheer on their boys of fall.

Doc raised an interesting challenge in his article:

Who will lead the beef industry to united greatness so that we can effectively communicate with our customers and build trust in our product?

It is no secret that the beef industry struggles for unity on a vast array of issues with over 900,000 independent farmers and ranchers that care for over 93 million animals. It takes an average of 2 years to bring beef from farm to fork, and many animals have multiple owners across their lifetime. The complex lifecycle of beef results from a unique blend of resources needed to bring the animals from a birth weight of approximately 75# to a final weight in the neighborhood of 1300#.

It takes a team of people to care for a calf across his lifetime; and politics divide the beef industry in much the same way that they currently antagonize the unity of our great Nation.

  • A divided nation struggles to tell its story.
  • A divided nation creates internal chaos which drowns out the voices of its customers.
  • A divided nation fails to achieve as high a level of efficiency when striving to work for continuous improvement.

In the twenty years since Scott Frost led the Huskers to the National Championships, I’ve often wondered what it would take to create a unified effort of cattlemen across the United States. The majority of us agree on so many important things:

  • Quality animal welfare
  • A strong focus on food safety
  • A need to care for the environment
  • The importance of transitioning our farms/ranches across generations so that our children can carry on the tradition of raising food.

The list is long and the importance of success cannot be understated. Within each of those above topics lies a long list of subtopics as we strive to responsibly raise a quality beef product.

Does any one person exist that can unite us in our search for greatness?

I don’t know, but I can tell you that it will take a team of dedicated individuals to deal with the challenge of building trust with our customers.

Together we are stronger.

Learning to listen, pool our ideas, and create viable production changes to meet customer asks will determine the success of the industry over the next twenty years. I don’t want to lose my ability to create a memorable family dinner centered around a delicious steak any more than the die-hard Husker Nation plans to let the tradition of victory fall by the wayside.

Scott Frost provides the beginning to a great Husker game plan –

Who will be the Scott Frost of the beef industry?

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Filed under A Farmer's View on Foodie Thoughts..., General

Finding Her Voice…

My favorite brunette entered the world in the year AF3 (year 3 of working at the feed yard).  She arrived three weeks early after a complicated pregnancy that wreaked havoc on our normal fall cattle processing chores. She came out screaming, and her birth (albeit a loud one) created one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

christmastreeagdonkey1-jpgI have spent the last 17 years watching her find her voice. From the first melodious baby sounds, to words, to sentences, and finally the mature and engaging insight (laced with a tad of sarcasm) that she routinely shares today. Last week, my favorite speech loving Haymaker spent three days in Cheyenne, WY at the National Forensics League Regional Qualifier competition.

She emerged a victor earning herself the right to compete this summer in Birmingham, AL at the National Finals in the International Extemporaneous speaking event. This event involves drawing a topic, spending the next 60 minutes writing a speech addressing it, and then delivering a 7 minute oratory to judges. The really talented kids give a poised, on topic speech complete with quoted sources to back up their argument — all without a note card…

It’s nothing short of awesome!

One day it occurred to me that perhaps Ashley Grace and I found our voices together.  As she grasped the English language and developed a knack for writing an engaging and organized speech, I opened my life outside of our family and our farm to help agriculture find its voice.  The art of public speaking and sharing the story of bovine feed yard life does not normally appear together in a feed yard manager’s skill set…But I found my niche as I found my voice.

In 2017, the need for eloquent and honest farmer voices grows exponentially as social media tops the list of “sources” for the discussion of healthy and responsibly raised food. We need our farm kids to learn the art of finding their voices just as we need them to learn the science that will allow agriculture to prosper on into the future. This unique combination of skills could well determine the stability and sustainability of our country’s food supply in addition to opening or closing the gate on many farmers’ individual agricultural journeys.

Monday I will make my way to Lincoln to be a guest lecturer at the University of Nebraska.  The goal of my lecture is to engage and inspire the next generation of farmers to effectively find their voices while they responsibly grow food. I am the first non-PhD to lead this particular yearly guest lecture on UNL’s agricultural campus — A sign of the growing importance of mentoring outside of the classroom in order to offer a more complex and multifaceted approach to education.

Just as I believe in the power of the next generation, I also believe that it will require the joining of the boots on the ground with the more traditional science background to prepare our future agricultural leaders. I am very proud to be able to play a role in that.

Unlike my favorite brunette, I will head to Lincoln with a pre-organized plan and a power point presentation.  However, I share her love of extemporaneous speaking which provides me with an incredibly useful tool when leading an intellectual discussion with a lecture hall full of gifted students.

AGGrandmaspeech2.jpg

My mom always taught me the importance of becoming adept at expressing my thoughts and ideas — I guess the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree 😉

 

 

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Filed under Ashley Grace's Corner and The Chick Project..., Family, Farming, General

Rural Communities: What allows them to endure?

I asked my favorite teenager recently what she thought made our small community both special and sustainable.  I found her list particularly interesting and pertinent relative to our Sustainable Spring discussion.

The Cozad Junior High athletes that competed last weekend in the State track meet.  My favorite teenager kneeling in the front row in the red shirt.

The Cozad Junior High athletes that competed last weekend in the State track meet. My favorite teenager is kneeling in the front row in the red shirt.

  1. Pride in community
  2. Caring nature of community members
  3. Self-reliant
  4. Underlying toughness
  5. Athletic and extracurricular activities universally available to all interested youth
  6. United community in one school system

A key component to our farm’s sustainability is the ability of our rural community to endure.  Our community of Cozad not only provides Matt and I with the services that we need for our agricultural businesses, but it also plays a key role in helping us to raise our children.

Hometown pride...

Hometown pride…

An elementary school teacher in our town told me a few years ago, “Anne, it takes an entire community to raise a child”.  As I think of the thousands of children that I have coached and the hundreds of other adults that have mentored my own children, I realize how very true this statement is.

I was not born in rural America, but I have become a believer in the core values that permeate life in our small town.  The pace is a little bit slower, the people are a little bit friendlier, and an underlying goal of community prosperity dictates an element of teamwork that I never saw growing up in urban America.

  • I live in a community where class distinctions are blurry and hometown pride prevails.
  • I live in a community that unites together to endure challenges, looking inward to find the faith and the strength needed to persevere.
  • I live in a community where youth are universally included in activities and encouraged to participate.
  • I live in a community where every child attends school together, and education is a community project.

    A special thanks to Katie Arndt for taking this picture.

    A special thanks to Katie Arndt for taking this picture.

Matt and I feel blessed to be a part of such a wonderful community, and we try our best to give back to the town that has given us a quality of life that is second to none.

Matt volunteers as a member of the town hospital board, the Cozad Development Corporation, the United Way investment committee, and several other agriculturally related area groups.  I focus my efforts outside of agriculture on youth athletic programs and have spent this spring coaching and helping with three different sports teams (soccer, swimming and track).

Perhaps this YouTube video describes the community feeling that permeates rural America’s small towns most effectively.  Take a moment to watch the Cornhusker Football team with a young boy challenged with cancer and you will see the heart of America—the vital presence of a compassion that creates an inherent ability to endure.

This is the essence of rural America: strong, compassionate and sustainable…

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Filed under General, Rural Communities, Sustainable Spring

Unity

I was born in a divided state…

There were Gator fans…There were Seminole fans…There were Hurricane fans…Each set of fans was adamantly convinced that their team was the best.  While this division was profoundly seen in the fall during football season, it seemed to expand beyond collegiate athletics.

Home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Team...

For this reason, I have spent the last 14 and a half years being amazed at the unity found in the state of Nebraska.  EVERYONE in the state of Nebraska is a Husker fan, and “game day” at Memorial stadium is a testament to the bond that all Nebraskans share.

It is demonstrated in the “sea of red” that fills the stadium.

Red is the preferred color of all Nebraskans!

It is demonstrated by the comraderie felt amongst fans.

An Enthusiastic Fan...

It is demonstrated by the love and support shown to all of the youth.

The Cornhusker Marching band is introduced as the "Pride of All Nebraska"...

While it may seem odd to some that an entire state population (1,711,263 strong) all rally around one college football team, I believe that this unification, manifested in Memorial Stadium on game day, extends to a feeling of community that permeates everyday life in the state.

Learning to be "part of Nebraska's team" while cheering on "the team"!

My desire to live in rural America, combined with an adventurous spirit and a cute farm boy, led me to Nebraska.  The unity, shared respect, and “neighborly” attitude of the citizens of Nebraska will keep me here the rest of my days.  Very simply:  In Nebraska there is no me, there is us. That is an incredibly powerful mindset, and one that allows our state to continue to move forward and thrive.

It manifests itself on Husker Game Day, but it is really much deeper than that.  It can be seen in our unique unicameral state legislature…It can be seen on Nebraska’s rural high ways where it is common practice for everyone to wave (even complete strangers)…It can be seen in the way that communities help one another when Mother Nature strikes…It can be seen at frequent local benefit suppers held to help a family or individual that needs a boost…It is a beautiful thing, and makes me proud to be called a Nebraskan.

Perhaps I am over-emotional at times, but I found myself getting choked up at several points during the game on Saturday…

A powerful rush of emotion surrounds the stadium as the players walk through "the tunnel" and enter the field...

The honoring of our country with the entire crowd singing the National Anthem, along with multiple tributes all throughout the game to individual Nebraska soldiers who represent and defend our great nation.

The tradition of releasing red ballons as the Huskers make their first exciting touch down!

The Celebration of Victory!

To me, the most poignant of all...The blend of athletes, coaches, and officials who faithfully take a moment immediately following the game to give quiet prayful tribute to God for the blessings that we all share...

While life is not a game, perhaps a game can teach us a valuable lesson about life…

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