Tag Archives: University of Nebraska

Finding a New ‘Normal’…

Monday afternoon I spent time in a BMG feed yard before heading to Lincoln to the University of Nebraska.  That evening and Tuesday morning found me hanging out with graduate students in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.   Tuesday afternoon I lectured on campus before driving back home in the evening.  It was a fun couple of days on the road, and I always find that I learn something every time that I leave my farm.

The topic of my lecture was “Sustainability, Responsibility, and the Art of Balance”.

  • Sustainability provides one of the biggest buzz words of 2017.
  • Responsibility often finds it’s way into current conversations about food production.
  • The Art of Balance applies to both the discussion of agriculture’s needed commitment to people, animals, and planet; as well as my own personal agricultural journey.

I really enjoy college public speaking gigs.  Our students are our future and if I can find a way to inspire them and aid them on their journey, then I am playing a positive role which refills my cup. While on campus, I fielded many questions about closing the feed yard and my new life and job with the Beef Marketing Group. My answer generally started with the words “I am finding a new normal…”  When you make a life change after twenty years, things look different on a daily basis.

I am happy to report that I am thriving amidst the chaos of change.  You’d have to ask my new boss about my performance on the job, but I can say that I am learning and finding my place as a new member of an awesome team.  I am spending some quality time in the five feed yards that I consult with relative to the Progressive Beef program.  This helps to fulfill the feed yard junkie part of Anne.  While I do miss the daily chore interaction with bovines, I am a short month away from moving cattle from a neighboring ranch to our grass pasture and sharing some of those chores with my foreman and my favorite pair of blonde cowgirls 🙂

Likely the best thing that I can report is that I have regained the natural optimism that makes me Anne.  This reclamation comes from attaining a better sense of balance in my life.

  • Time spent with family.
  • Meaningful volunteer hours spent with high school students who need support as they learn accountability and the art of making good choices… 
  • A healthy commitment to exercise that improves both my mental and physical fitness.
  • A work environment that leaves me feeling as though what I do is meaningful, while also allowing me the freedom from worry at the end of the day.

I believe that life is full of purposeful paths. Sometimes it takes some soul searching to figure out which fork in the road to take, but I believe that God has a plan. There is a sense of freedom that comes from packing your FAITH and following that plan.  Over the past few months, I have found a sense of peace that eluded me for several years. Two years ago, I wrote a post entitled “I Saw God Today”. I think that I am finally to a place where I can live George Straight’s famous song. I know that it is up to me to hold myself accountable to maintaining that balance on into the future; but I can report that finding it has provided a sweet spot 🙂

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Filed under General, ILS Beef / Beef Marketing Group

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

Empowering Myself as a Woman Entrepreneur…

I remember vividly as a child listening to my grandfather say, “Anne, strive to be unemployable!”  My grandfather’s definition of a successful entrepreneur was someone who owns and operates a personal business.  He wanted me to be my own Boss Lady.

December 2012, age 91...

December 2012 at age 91 with my girls…

Last week when I was speaking to a group of young women involved in the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska, I was asked to define a successful entrepreneur.  While my grandfather’s words circled around in my head, they were not the ones that came out of my mouth when I answered the question.

Answering questions at the panel discussion...

Answering questions at the panel discussion…

While I have most definitely followed my grandfather’s advice by running my own business, that is not what drives me as a woman.  Consequently, I found myself giving the group of young women entrepreneurs different words of wisdom.  I told them:

Figure out what your talents and strengths are, then, go out and find the best way to share them in order to be a positive contributor to your community and your country.

I continued with:

When my life is over and I leave this world, I do not want to have any part of myself left.  I want to have used all of my gifts and talents in order to have made a positive difference.

This is my goal in life and my definition of success.  It explains why I spend so much of my time working on volunteer projects while also owning and managing a small business.  As one of only a small number of women who owns and manages a cattle feed yard, it is likely that others would define me as a unique entrepreneur, but that’s not all that makes me tick

I often speak my mind but it is only because I want to invoke positive change...

I often speak my mind but it is only because I want to invoke positive change…

I am indeed proud that I am the boss lady at the feed yard; however, I am most proud of the work that I do to both advance cattle welfare and make improvements in the beef community at large.  I do this while simultaneously being an active member in my community and raising my children with the core values that they will need in order to be positive contributors.DSC04809

That’s what really makes me tick…

 In my heart, I am a determined woman who believes in making my life journey be one of hard work and outreach.   That’s what makes me get out of bed in the morning.

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Filed under Animal Welfare, Feed Yard Foodie "In The News", General

Who I am…

Earlier this fall, a camara crew from the Angus Association (Angus is a breed of cattle) tagged along with a group of graduate students from the University of Nebraska and made the trip out to the Feed Yard Foodie farm.

It was a typical windy day at the feed yard: exercising calves, feeding and checking the health of our animals.  I talked with the UNL students about the practical implementation of holistic cattle care and Beef Quality Assurance in a feed yard.

While I always enjoy when students come to learn at the feed yard, this particular visit was extra special for me because of the YouTube video embedded below.   I am so thankful to the Angus Association for putting together this five minute video of me and my cattle.

  • This video explains who I am.
  • This video states what I believe in.
  • This video is my mission statement.DSC03747

I am Anne Burkholder.

I am proud to raise cattle and grow your beef…

Please take a moment to click below and watch it if you missed it on RFD TV last week! Please pass it along to every one that you know that has questions about a cattle feed yard 🙂

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Filed under Feed Yard Foodie "In The News", General

It is in Giving of Ourselves That We Receive…

I love the Prayer of St. Francis.  In particular, I love the passage that reads “It is in giving of ourselves that we receive”.  If I were to put my life’s ambition into words, it would be these words of St. Francis.

I believe that it is both an honor and a duty to share of myself.  There are days that I do it well, and there are days that I struggle.  I suppose that is what makes me human.

I love to be their Mama, I love to be their coach and their biggest fan…

My first duty is to my family and to my animals.  They keep me pretty busy.  Raising animals is a bit like raising a toddler—they seem to always need something!  Although it brings me tremendous joy, my children generally always need something too…

Their care is important too…

My spare time is limited, but I am committed to sharing it as best as I can.  One of my favorite ways of sharing is to work with young people.  Whether in a swimming pool, at my feed yard, or in a classroom setting; I love to work with youth.

Even though I manage a cattle feed yard, there is a part of me that will always be a teacher.  That very special part of me comes from watching my mom’s lifelong passion for inspiring young minds.  From Shakespeare to Gabriel Marquez, Mrs. Gibson makes literature come alive in her high school classroom.

Three generations of contributors–I have had good mentors in my life…

The topics of animal welfare, cattle handling, Beef Quality Assurance, and learning to tell the personal story of agriculture are very different topics than the literature that my mom teaches.  However, it is my hope that my passion and teaching effectiveness give credence to the magic that occurs in Mrs. Gibson’s class.

Our youth is our future.  Their minds are powerful and their excitement is contagious.  Harnessing that power and enthusiasm, and combining it with a good work ethic and the proper knowledge ensures the prosperity of tomorrow.

They make a difference in my life, I hope that I make a difference in theirs…

Melanie and her dad came from Missouri to spend a couple of days with me this summer. I look forward to following Melanie’s progress as she goes through college and becomes the next generation of great cattle caregivers!

Hopefully my words inspire this group of college students during a recent visit to the University of Nebraska…

  • I am thankful for my young athletes who learn that hard work is the basis for success.
  • I am thankful for the young people who make the sacrifice to travel to my feed yard and spend time learning “hands on” how to care for cattle and raise beef.
  • I am thankful for Nebraska’s university system and its educators who periodically ask me to share my knowledge with their students.

Most especially, I am thankful to be a contributor, and every time that I see a young person benefit from my efforts my heart fills and I am reminded why I love the prayer of St. Francis so much…

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Filed under Foodie Work!, General