DR. LARRY BOLEMAN
Hero of Dr. Chris Boleman • 38 | College Station, TX
Dr. Larry Boleman currently serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Outreach and Strategic Initiatives for Texas A&M (TAMU) AgriLife.
His career at TAMU spans 46 years, starting as a student worker at TAMU’s Beef Cattle Center and now as an Associate Vice Chancellor.
For 30 years, Dr. Boleman was a beef cattle specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. He established statewide and national beef cattle educational programs, and for 18 years chaired the annual Beef Cattle Short Course at TAMU, the largest event of its kind in the nation.
Boleman is widely known in the Texas agriculture industry and has held leadership positions in many industry organizations, including the Texas Purebred Cattle Alliance as past president, the Independent Cattlemen’s Association and the Texas Beef Council.
He has received numerous awards from industry groups, including the Professional Agriculture Workers of Texas, Independent Cattlemen’s Association and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He has been honored with AgriLife Extension’s Team Award for Superior Service, the Texas A&M AgriLife Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence and the Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award.
While his professional biography speaks for itself, his most noteworthy accomplishments are his contributions to 4-H and FFA youth livestock programs. He is a lifetime member of the San Antonio Livestock Exposition and a Superintendent Hall of Fame honoree of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
More specifically, he and his wife, Pat, raised three boys in 4-H. The family raised numerous major show steer and heifer breed champions, and he coached two of his sons on the National Champion 4-H Livestock Judging Team at Louisville. This is the only Texas team to win this contest in 50-plus years.
His unmatched ability to balance his career and raise his family makes him my personal agricultural hero.
Hero of Conrad, Chandler and Cooper Schelkopf • 15, 12, 5 | Geneva, NE
Justin Nathan is our “Super Hero.” He can’t leap over tall buildings in a single bound or conquer the world from evil, but he has helped some young boys stay interested in agriculture and discover the love of working with livestock. In addition, he’s taught that dedication, hard work and the act of caring can develop your life skills.
Justin entered our lives a few years ago while we were out buying show lambs. Being the beginning of our showing career, Justin sold us lambs, and mentored us on caring for them.
He taught us techniques in feeding, exercising and shearing these animals. He taught us about breeding lambs and other agricultural knowledge needed to raise quality livestock.
Since we met Justin we have expanded our show circuit. This past year, we showed at the county and state fair, jackpots, Ak- Sar-Ben, American Royal, North American International Livestock Exposition, Arizona National and the National Western — Justin by our side.
At each show, we gain experience and knowledge on how to handle ourselves competitively. Justin has taught us how to win with pride and lose with dignity. He knows the importance of sportsmanship.
Justin has become part of our family, like having an older brother. We look up to Justin, and he has proven to be a “Super Hero” in the role model department.
In a time of our lives when sitting in front of a television seems to be the normal for kids our age, we find the joy of caring for show animals to be more entertaining and educational. This would not be the case if it wasn’t for Justin. He is keeping us involved in the wonderful world of agriculture.
Justin Nathan is our “Super Hero”: a mentor who in his caring ways has helped three young boys develop into better people. Watch out Superman, here comes “Super Nathan!”
Hero of Jason Fleming • 32 | Madina, TX
A hero is a person who, in the opinion of others, is regarded as a model or ideal. There have been a lot of people who have crossed my path throughout my life in the livestock industry that I could consider “my hero,” but the one who has had the biggest influence in my life is my father, Richard Fleming.
I always felt he was a model mentor in my life. He was the one who bought me that first showpig and talked my mom into getting that first show steer, even though she thought I was too young.
Not only did he teach me the basics of animal husbandry, I had the wonderful opportunity to have him as my ag teacher. At that point in time, I didn’t feel it was wonderful, but he had such an influence on my life that I followed into his footsteps and decided to become an ag teacher, as well.
The support of my dad is tremendous; since I started teaching he will attend my county shows and help with my student’s projects — from clipping steers to getting a fresh set of eyes on those barrows.
My father taught me a vast array of livestock-based knowledge. He started me with the basic concepts of livestock judging, and I eventually had the opportunity to judge while attending college. My dad also worked with me over the years to set up a high level of livestock selection and management that I have used in the building process of my show lamb and showpig operations.
Without all the life lessons and livestock knowledge I gained from this man, I would not be the person that I am today. I have him to thank for all that I have accomplished.
Hero of Rickey Cooper • 10 | MS
My name is Rickey Cooper and I am 10 years old. I have been showing cattle for two years. I bought a show heifer form Whitlock Angus in March of 2011.
Whitlock Angus is a family owned and operated Angus farm that raises and sells show calves. The owners are Mr. Paul Whitlock (the father), Jon Paul Whitlock (son) and Kindra Wood Whitlock (daughter-in-law).
Little did I know when I bought my first Angus heifer from them (JPW 1006 Whitlocks Crystal) that she would come with such a special relationship. This family had been through the ups and downs of loss and tragic events.
Just months earlier, their show barn burned. They lost some great heifers as well as semen and embryos; the barn was a complete loss.
They have taught me so much, not just about cattle, not just in the show ring, but about life. I have learned that hard work and dedication pays off not only in the show ring but in life.
Through them I have also learned there is no greater gift than family and friends. They have helped remind me keep the Lord No. 1 in my life and not to get too wrapped up in material things.
They have been a mentor to the children in the show industry and also the other Angus breeders in the south. This family has touched the life of my family, and for this we are blessed.
I never would have dreamed that I would be so blessed to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of such a great Angus family.
Hero of Reagan Kelly • 23 | Stamford, TX
“Winners do things losers don’t want to do.” This is not only a sign that hangs inside my show barn, but it is a motto that has been recited to me time after time by one of my agriculture heroes, Stu Dildine. He is one person that truly believes in this saying and instills it within each one of his students.
With Stu’s mentorship and guidance, he has taught me to believe in myself and my abilities, which has propelled me to accomplish my dreams. There were many times during my show and high school career that I didn’t understand why Stu was often harder on me than he was on my peers, but it was because he believed in me before I believed in myself.
I accredit him for my success and for where I have gotten today. I will always be proud to say that I have been taught by Stu Dildine. He is a man that I will always see as a father figure in my life and someone I will always respect.
Hero of Nanette Walker • 39 | Kewanee, IL
Dan Hoge is known nationwide in livestock judging circles. He is often referred to as a “legend.” I am sure that Mr. Hoge will be named the hero of many of his students, but I am not a former student.
Several years ago, Mr. Hoge contacted me about putting on a meat goat lab at Black Hawk College — East Campus. Having nearly flunked speech in high school, I had no interest in speaking. But I rounded up several representatives and we put on a great lab.
Mr. Hoge took me aside after that first lab and informed me that he wanted me to do the lab the following year. He told me that “if you have a passion for something, you will have no problem sharing it with others.” Mr. Hoge was right.
Not only did Mr. Hoge inspire me to get up and speak in front of his students, he also helped me to “find my voice.” Since that first lab I made the decision to return to school at the age of … well, 39 and holding.
I work full time and am the mother of a very active junior high student, and we raise and show Boer goats throughout the Midwest. I am now halfway through earning my associate’s degree with a 3.67 GPA.
I don’t hesitate now and take every opportunity to share my passion for meat goats at venues including junior colleges and seminars. My family never turns down an opportunity to assist youth groups and provide animals for 4-H and FFA livestock judging contests throughout the area. Mr. Hoge jokes that our animals are the “mostjudged” animals in the state.
I just hope that we can “give back” some of what Dan Hoge has given to us. He truly is an inspiration for young and old alike.
My Ag Instructors
Hero of Shawna Allen • 25 | Stamford, TX
It was 10 p.m., the night before the Oklahoma State Fair Livestock Judging Contest. Our 4-H leader called, explaining that a member of the junior 4-H judging team was sick and wouldn’t be able to judge.
Since I would already be at the fair with my animals, she asked if I could please be the fill -in for the team. I was in the 5th grade and had never judged or heard a set of reasons before; while the rest of the team had been practicing for months. Even though I knew I would be lost on what to do, I agreed to judge.
After marking cards for all of the classes, the group leaders directed us to the large arena where we were supposed to prepare and give our reasons. I was standing in the middle of the arena, not knowing what to do and being completely petrified. As I got in line to give my first set of reasons, tears started streaming down my face.
I looked over and saw the high school ag teacher, Dusty Ricks, by the rail. He motioned for me to come over. We talked for a minute, and he got me to calm down. He then proceeded to tell me something that has stayed with me, “You can do this. Just give them your name, and tell them what you know.”
With those small words of encouragement, Mr. Ricks gave me the confidence to finish the contest. Although I judged poorly, I made it through that first experience and went on to judge more in the future because one person invested in me.
My heros in agriculture are the “Dusty Ricks”’ in the world, agricultural educators.
They have dedicated a large part of their lives to sharing their knowledge and growing the greatest industry around; all while encouraging students and teaching life lessons. I was blessed to have had some of the best ag teachers, starting with Mr. Dusty Ricks and Mr. Clark Straka, Mr. C.L. McGill, and Mr. Brandon Morgan.
Each of these individuals and many others who were not my personal ag teacher have all made a mark on the person I have become and fueled my passion for agriculture. Their dedication to teaching, contagious passion for the agriculture industry and tireless hours they spend investing in tomorrow’s leaders are what makes the agricultural education teacher my hero.
Hero of Katlyn Britt-Rankin • 21 | Columbia, MO
Larry Mead may not be known across the globe, but he is leaving a lasting impression in the Midwest. Mead is a Missouri native that has significantly shaped the sheep industry with his extensive determination and leadership.
Mead started in the industry when he became the creator of the Sheep Breeder magazine. The Sheep Breeder is considered to be one of the first sheep magazines published.
Mead’s involvement with the Sheep Breeder allowed him to serve as the Livestock Publications Council president from 1993-1994. His leadership skills allowed the Sheep Breeder to become the model for future magazines.
More remarkable than his involvement with the magazine is his management of the Midwest Stud Ram Sale. The Midwest Stud Ram Sale prides itself as being, “The One and Only,” sheep sale. The sale is a five-day event and sells thousands of sheep annually to buyers both in the U.S. and several foreign countries. Mead has successfully made this event a hit every year for the past 49 years.
Mead is a small-town man that has significantly shaped the Midwest, and will leave a lasting footprint on the sheep industry. The Dorset organization wanted to make sure people knew his name and donated a park bench in Mead’s honor at the Missouri State Fairgrounds.
Mead may not be making national headlines, but he is a mentor to all those involved in the Midwest sheep industry.
Hero of Shelby Kroupa • 20 | Brookings, SD
When I think about a mentor, I think about someone who is much older and wiser than myself. I think of someone who has been through all walks of life and has had a wide array of experiences. However, when I thought about who was a true mentor and hero to me, the first person who came to my mind is Wyatt DeJong, a 21-year-old from Winner, S.D..
While he is a very young man, it seems to me he has been through it all. Wyatt was raised on a ranch in South Dakota where he was home schooled until the 8th grade. He then attended Winner High School and eventually moved on to South Dakota State University in Brookings, where he is studying agriculture education.
Wyatt served as the South Dakota State FFA Secretary in 2008-2009 and honored us all by serving as the Central Region Vice President as a National FFA officer in 2010-2011. While Wyatt has had many great accomplishment through showing cattle and his outstanding FFA career, this is not what stands out to me. It is his kind heart, optimistic outlook, strong morals and willingness to strive for greatness that sets Wyatt apart, in my mind.
Wyatt always has a smile on his face; an amazing attitude; a very kind, composed demeanor; and positive advice or a funny pick-me-up joke or story to brighten your day. I most frequently find Wyatt rushing across campus or taking way too many cattle to livestock shows. It seems that he is filled to the max with life’s obligations, but at those shows and on campus, you can find Wyatt laughing with an underclassmen, in his stall making up secret handshakes with random children or even offering a hug to those in times of struggle.
He is never too busy to lend a hand or offer a piece of advice to someone in need. In the number of years that I have known Wyatt, I only recall one moment when he seemed to be having a very bad day. When I asked him Wyatt what was bothering him, he simply stated “ I am just having a really bad day.” I about fell over in shock when he continued by saying, “But you know what? I am going to change my attitude and put a smile on. Because you know what? Just because I am down doesn’t give me the right to ruin someone else’s day. “
It isn’t Wyatt’s amazing accomplishments that make him so incredible to me but rather his selflessness, positive attitude and strong moral character that make him such an amazing individual. In my opinion, these characteristics about Wyatt are what has helped achieved such great accomplishments. They’re what makes Wyatt an example to all.
We all know that sometimes life isn’t fair, and it can bring on hard times or struggles. Wyatt DeJong embodies so many qualities that many people spend a life time trying to achieve. Thank you, Wyatt. You have been a great example for all of your peers in agriculture and to all of those who have chosen a separate path for their lives.
Hero of Mikaela May • 17 | Crowley, TX
Mrs. DeShazo, FFA advisor and teacher at Crowley ISD, Crowley, Texas, teaches her students to be champions. Not winners — but champions. She teaches us that champions are not made on the day of the event, in the show ring or on the award stage. In FFA, champions are made in the days, weeks, months and sometimes years of preparation for that event.
Mrs. DeShazo teaches us to be leaders of ourselves first. Without good time management skills, we would never be able to participate in as many activities as we do. Then, she teaches us to lead others as team members and as officers.
We also learn to work together for a common goal. We learn to take pride in our own abilities, and our confidence in ourselves is strengthened. We learn to get out of our comfort zone and meet new people. We learn work ethic. We learn that little is accomplished without sacrifice. We learn career skills that make ourselves proud and can lead to lifelong careers.
Mrs. DeShazo teaches us all these things through what I call “grace under pressure.” Very rarely does she raise her voice. She is controlled and calculated in all of her actions. We all learn from her example.
She is dedicated to the agricultural education program in the Crowley ISD. With her many years of service, she has proven her loyalty and dedication. She instills in us integrity and honor. She believes in quality over quantity. She would rather have one hard-working team with passion than ten teams with no desire.
Hero of Dave Vansickle • 32 | Fortville, IN
Growing up in central Indiana as a teen in the ‘90s, there were three things that I cared about: 1) girls, 2) Colts football and 3) showing cattle.
Upon graduation from high school in 1998, I attended Black Hawk College — East Campus, and that is when my whole outlook on the importance of the junior livestock program changed. There is one person to thank for that: Kirk Stierwalt.
I went to the little town of Leedey, Olka., during the spring semester of my freshmen year on an internship that was supposed to only last eight weeks. Well, eight weeks turned into the whole summer, as well as the summer after that. I loved it there. I not only learned everything I ever wanted to know about show cattle, but I learned the value of customer service and hard work as well.
The famous saying around the barn was “You get out of it what you put in it.” That was obvious during all the nights we clipped steers going to Oklahoma City or Tulsa or Kans as City. Sometimes we would clip on one for more than 10 hours to get them they way Kirk wanted them.
If someone were to ask me “Why is this person your hero,” I believe I could sum it up pretty quickly and easily: Kirk is one of the most honest, generous, kind-hearted people I know. He has a true passion for teaching the youth of the cattle project. He is the definition of “service with a smile.” I don’t care if you don’t know Kirk personally; no one can forget the smile and laugh.
I am honored to call Kirk my mentor, my hero, whatever. Most importantly, I am honored to call him my friend.
Hero of Jennifer Martinez • 31 | Ethan, SD
My agricultural hero is my father, LeRoy Adams. My father has been a farmer near Ethan, S.D., his whole life. Moving only a half mile from his family farm to begin his own dreams of farming, he and my mother, Susan, started their lives together raising cattle and crops.
Since then, my father has broadened his knowledge by growing several different crops and a variety of livestock, studying the potential and value of each. Through his journey he raised three daughters. Each of us knows how to drive a tractor, pull a calf, change a tire, and ride a horse.
My father has passed many skills on to us. Though none of us have pursued agricultural careers, we find that those skills still can come in handy. As a teacher, I joke that the patience I have now comes from breaking young colts or being stuck in between two kicking milk cows until I was rescued.
I am fortunate that I have been able to move my family back to the farm that I was raised on, where now my children have their own time daily with my father, learning those same things I was taught. My husband and I are able to have our own cattle, horses, and crops, something that would never have been possible without the trust and love from my father.
Well into his 60s, my father is farming strong with no plans of retirement any time soon. He continues to pass his knowledge and love onto his daughters and their children, with hopes of seeing their success in the future, whether in agriculture or not. My father has a love and passion for farming that will be forever planted in the soil of this family farm.
Hero of Danielle Johnson • 28 | Navarre, OH
Sometime life gets fuzzy. As a person ages, they forget how far they have come and the people who helped them along the way. I am guilty of that, but my hero in the agricultural world is my husband, Jeremiah.
I met him as a junior in high school. I needed a show steer and had zero experience in showing cattle, let alone showing something that would be more than 1, 000 pounds at finishing weight.
Right away, he took the time to help me pick out a steer by pointing out the good points and not so good points in each calf. After I purchased my steer from him, he came over to clip the steer, balance my rations and make sure I had the items I needed to succeed showing.
Because of that experience, I went on to spend a summer helping my cousins at their ranch in Colorado. That summer helped my cousin and I grow closer and develop a brother/sister bond that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and it encouraged my interest in the beef cattle industry.
After I got back from Colorado I went to an agricultural college, did an awesome internship at another ranch in Colorado and gained a fantastic career in the animal health field.
I can look back on the turning points in my life and see that my husband was the guiding hand beside me and I know that my life wouldn’t be nearly the same without him.
Together with my in-laws, we raise a herd of registered Herefords and club calves on the same ground that his greatgrandparents farmed. It is a true family farm. Jeremiah continues to be a mentor to any showmen in need and enjoys showing cattle as much as he enjoys raising them.
Mr. Doug Pierce
Hero of Shane Jennings • 29 | Anderson, TX
A hero is someone who has impacted your life or changed it in any way. I would have to say that my hero in the ag industry is none other than Mr. Doug Pierce.
John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
To me, this quote describes Mr. Pierce, as his ethics and integrity as an educator as a professor at Blinn College have inspired myself and others to dream big. He has also taught us that there was nothing we could not achieve if we set our minds to it.
He is second to one, when it comes to his ability to lecture to a group of students with diverse backgrounds and teach them about the values of real-world agriculture, while still instilling a practical mindset. His drive and enthusiasm for agriculture motivates his students to strive for excellence.
His work as an educator doesn’t stay in the classroom, however. , Whether we were riding through the pasture looking at cows, in a van traveling across the Midwest, or just standing ringside watching him judge a show, he was always one to make sure we were learning something through every experience. The moral values and ethics he instills in his students are unrivaled to that of any teacher I have ever come across.
I truly believe the successes I have had in my career was built off of the foundation that he created within me. There are not many Doug Pierce’s in this world, and the students and alumni of Blinn College are privileged to have him as an educator, mentor and a friend. He is truly a legend of his kind.
Hero of Amber Norris • 36 | Sulphur Springs, TX
Growing up on the farm, all little girls thought their grand daddies were invincible. But it wasn’t until I got older that I realized what they say is true. Behind every great man is a woman! My hero is my grandmother, Marcy Fowler.
Born in 1930 on a small farm in Rowena, Texas, Marcy grew to love agriculture at an early age. In 1950, she married Bill Fowler of San Angelo, Texas. In San Angelo, they owned and operated a Massey Ferguson tractor dealership and ran cattle along the Colorado River in Bronte, Texas.
By default a rancher’s wife, must be able to juggle many tasks, and still have dinner ready by 5 pm. For this reason, I believe most are today’s agricultural heroes! When I was 4, my grandfather had a massive heart attack and was limited in work capacity from that day forward. That left my grandmother in charge of most farm operations. This included anything from bailing hay to, harvesting wheat, and chasing cattle.
As a little girl, I can remember my grandmother being able to start a tractor with a screw driver, build a complete section of fence with just a single strand and a fence stretcher, and pull a calf in her church clothes. There was not anything she would not tackle and accomplish in one way or another. She wouldn’t cuss or complain and still managed to have a hot meal available for all hands and family daily.
She taught me the value of hard work and never giving up, not only through words but through her actions in agriculture. Today, although my grandfather has passed, she still runs cattle in east Texas and enjoys helping students with cattle projects. Meme, thank you for all you have taught me. You are my hero in agriculture!
Hero of Daphne Norman • 16 | Oakhurst, CA
I nominate Judy Kaye of White Rail Ranch in Porterville, Calif. If it were not for Judy, I would not show meat goats at all.
Over 15 years ago, Judy decided to start breeding the recently imported Boer goats. She was one of the first in the state of California. Originally she bred and showed Boer percentage does, but having been raised showing market animals, it wasn’t long until she was focused on producing show wethers. To this day, she credits and still has strong relationships with Norman Kohls, Barney Fowler, Joe Raff and other legends who have helped her by sharing their genetics.
It fascinates me to walk out in a pen or pasture and ask Judy, “Who’s that?” And she can tell you back all the generations they have been in her herd.
I also find it amazing that with only about 80 brood does, she can kid out a group every quarter and supply show wethers year round for the various fairs and jackpot shows available throughout the West.
Judy LOVES to help youth be successful in their projects. Anybody who buys an animal from Judy gets all the help and support that she is able to provide. She knows which bloodlines finish at what age; what size you can expect them to get, and how much to feed and exercise. She can even match goats to most of the judges exhibitors are liable to see. In addition, if you write her an e-mail, she will actually write back. And for kids like me that want to expand beyond the county level, she takes road trips to Texas at least three times a year.
I have had the privilege of meeting the renowned breeders she knows. And I am a better person for it. Thank you, Judy!
Hero of Breanna Lawyer • 18 | Shirley, IN
When people hear, I have a big brother, they often reply with, “Man, I bet all you guys do is bicker?”
But I confidently reply with, “No, he’s helped me out quite a bit, no matter what it’s been.”
In my opinion, a common theme in the livestock industry is us girls wanting to fill our big brothers’ footsteps; and that was indeed my goal. Whether it was helping me set up my notes page the first time I put my hands on a steno pad at livestock practice in 7th grade, or helping me tweak my reasons before I set off for another national judging contest, I’ve always proudly told people he was MY big brother.
He inspired me to go full speed ahead in the barn. Whether it was getting ready for a show, or simply scraping pens to fit his “expectations,” I never wanted to disappoint him. He has continually served as my role model, mentor, and person to “out-do.” This attitude of wanting to match or even rise above his accomplishments are what I have to thank for national judging titles, not only on a team base, but also individually.
I think it’s clear that my “hero” is my big brother, Seth Lawyer.
Dr. Don Good
Hero of Brandi Buzzard • 25 | Manhattan, KS
It’s hard to pinpoint a single sector of the livestock industry that hasn’t been significantly impacted by crossbreeding. This practice has allowed farmers and ranchers to be more productive and, therefore, more profitable with their livestock. Additionally, crossbreeding brings about hybrid vigor, which has produced some pretty fantastic animals that have had success in the show ring.
While there are several people who have initiated dynamic change in the livestock industry, there is one man who monumentally improved our industry with the simple choice of a crossbred steer. My livestock industry hero is Dr. Don Good. When he chose “Conoco,” an Angus-Charolais crossbred steer, as the winner of the International Livestock Exposition in 1969, the livestock industry was forever changed.
Because of his pioneering efforts and determined attitude, the industry is far more productive than it was 50 years ago. Since that fateful day, breeders have successfully been utilizing the finest characteristics of different breeds in order to produce the best livestock possible.
Dr. Good’s influence was not just limited to the show ring. For 40 years, he was a fixture in the Department of Animal Sciences & Industry at Kansas State University as a professor, an internationally renowned livestock judging coach and department head.
In 1988 Weber Hall, the animal sciences building, was renovated, and the expanded wing was dubbed the Don Good Addition. The mere mention of his name at a show, contest or conference garners extreme respect for a man who has done so much for not only the livestock industry but also for thousands of agriculture students. His passion for teaching and coaching students is evident when you walk through Weber Hall and see the countless trophies and photos of livestock teams from past years.
He’s not only a hero, he’s a legend.
Hero of Kelli Chapman • 23 | Haskell, TX
As a young professional now in the agriculture industry, I begin to think of those who led me here. Travis Herod is among those at the top of the list.
Travis graduated from Texas Tech University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. During his time pursuing his bachelors’ degree, he was a part of the 2002 Clarendon College Meat Judging Team, 2003 Clarendon College Livestock Judging Team, 2004 Texas Tech University Meat Judging Team and 2005 Texas Tech University Livestock Judging Team. Upon his completion of his bachelor’s degree, he began working on his master’s degree in meat science at Texas Tech University. His time coaching the 2007 Texas Tech University meats team is where my relationship with Travis started.
My team and I often tested Travis’ patience and kept him on his toes keeping us under control. His excitement was often conveyed by the little man flailing arms around in excitement or frustration.
One of Travis’ most admirable qualities is the importance he places on being thorough in everything he does. He has always exhibited integrity and hard work. During so many of our road trips when our team would catch up on much-needed rest, Travis was driving or grading reasons. How he made time for himself, and his graduate study research project I will never know.
Those 4 a.m. “super Saturday” practices got old fast, and at the time I criticized Travis, convinced he was too tough on us. I am now eternally grateful for the standards he placed upon me, both as a judge and as a person. Outside of the cooler, Travis was the same dedicated individual, to his family and the families he helped with their sheep.
He has earned many accomplishments, as well as positioned himself into a career in which he enjoys and thrives. Travis now resides in Booker, Texas, where he works as a beef procurement specialist for Preferred Beef Group. In short,- I admire his modesty, intelligence, work ethic and success and feel fortunate to have him as a mentor.
Hero of Mary Drury • 30 | Haskell, TX
I know it’s cliché, but my ag hero is my husband, Darin.
Before I met Darin, I had never really met anyone who raised livestock, worked with farmers and ranchers or spoke the “dialect” of agriculture.
Darin got his start in agriculture as soon as he was old enough to walk. Darin’s father, Jack, insisted that he tag along each day to tend to their cattle and farm operations on the outskirts of their tiny southwest Oklahoma town. There, Darin learned the lessons of the land straight from his father and has mentioned that at the time, he wished he had been out playing with the neighborhood kids instead of working. However, when he looks back now, he understands that the work ethic his father imparted to him has made all the difference in his life.
Fast-forwarding two decades later, Darin graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in agronomy. After working as a ranch manager and crop consultant, he landed a full-time job with Helena Chemical Company in Haskell,Texas. Seven years later, he continues to work for Helena and is always on call to help farmers and ranchers improve their operations through cuttingedge agriculture products, services and information.
I have often told him that he is lucky to be able to offer his clients something that produces measurable results. Not everyone who goes to work each day can tell how their work makes a difference in this crazy world. He always shrugs his shoulders and pretends like it is nothing big. But to a city girl who sees how so many professions in this world are immeasurable, what Darin does truly strikes me as significant.
His knowledge and work ethic ultimately touches millions of lives through the food and fiber they depend on. I believe that makes him an ag hero not just for one, but for many.
Hero of Madison Andrade • 12 | San Juan Bautista, CA
My hero in the agricultural world is my uncle, Dustin Bush. He is part of our family and has shown me the ropes of feeding, clipping, showing, and taking care of my animals.
When he comes home and clips my animals, I help and take mental notes of every little detail, right and wrong; what to do, and not do. He helps me with me show skills, and if I do something wrong, he shows me how to do it right.
He never gets mad if I do something wrong with my animals, he just shows me the right way. He is always there with us at shows and is a big support when I show my cattle and goats.
All in all, he is my hero in the agricultural world.
Hero of Amanda Wolf • 21 | Chinco, CA
Everyone has a superhero - whether it’s Batman, Bill Gates, or even a college professor that gave you a better grade than deserved. Personally, mine is a man of many talents who has been a mentor and great friend over the past few years of my collegiate career.
Clay Weber is a livestock judging coach and animal science instructor in Albany, Ore., at Linn-Benton Community College. Aside from teaching and coaching the livestock team at LBCC, Clay owns and operates Weber Hampshire’s.
Clay is truly a leader within the club lamb industry, as he spends a great deal of time flying all over the country judging major sheep shows, as well as teaching fitting and showing clinics up and down the west coast.
Clay is one of those people who is instantly liked by everyone and has an engaging personality. Undoubtedly Mr. Weber has been this author’s hero.
Livestock judging is a sport that requires a ton of work ethic that goes highly unrecognized. And yet, the coach is the one who puts in every weekend during school and two to three days a week in the classroom, sacrificing more and more time away from their family. The coach has to be very articulate with grammar; has to understand and follow the livestock industry and instill the drive in their team to constantly be improving.
It takes a special kind of guy to be an elite coach. His 2010 team proved to have what it takes after they were named the Champion Junior College Judging Team at the North American International Livestock Exposition.
My hero is someone I want to be when I grow up, he’s someone that’s built a lot with a little, and his influence on me and many others within this industry means more than he’ll ever know.
Hero of Katelyn Karney • 21 | Lubbock, TX
To some, livestock judging is a scholarship opportunity. To others, it is a hobby. But to Clay Elliott, it’s a way of life. His dedication to the program sets an unmatched standard of excellence.
After I spent a year and a half judging at Redlands Community College, Clay is certainly considered one of my mentors. I believe that for Clay, building a program isn’t just about winning judging contests; he possesses the innate ability to see past a trophy and understand the important contributions young people can make to the agricultural industry.
He pushes young adults to meet and surpass their goals, and there is no doubt this comes from his own experiences. The fact that Clay came from a cattle operation in Wyoming and pursued his dream to become a leading force in the sheep industry speaks volumes of his character and work ethic.
Not only did he continually reinforce the importance of honesty and integrity upon my team, but he also taught us that with hard work anything is possible. Climbing in a van at 6 a.m. to the sound of Clay exuberantly declaring, “It’s going to be a great day!” didn’t always seem accurate, but his enthusiasm was contagious.
He expects his teams to perform at the most optimum level, and it has become obvious that Clay’s slogan “The harder we work, the luckier we get,” has held true.
dr. t.d. tanksley, jr
Hero of Dr. Chris Boleman • 38 | College Station, TX
Dr. T. D. Tanksley, Jr. received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture education, and graduated as valedictorian of his class in 1947 fromTexas A&M University (TAMU). He then served Llano County, Texas, influencing the lives of Llano County producers and students for the next 10 years, first as vocational agricultural teacher, then as county agricultural agent.
In December 1956, he joined the staff at TAMU as extension swine specialist. In 1968, he assumed leadership of the animal science department in swine research, teaching, and extension.
“Tank,” as he was affectionately known to producers and kids alike, was an uncommon teacher and researcher. Dr. Tanksley excelled in his teaching, research and extension activities. His excellence in teaching twice brought him the Distinguished Achievement Award at TAMU.
He was a polished communicator who could explain complex ideas and concepts in terms that students, producers and scientists could easily understand. His intimate knowledge of swine production and nutrition, coupled with his ability to communicate, made him an effective and wellknown speaker. He was an invited speaker in 15 foreign countries and 32 conferences nationwide.
Although he has received numerous honors, his first love has always been livestock shows. He brought energy and enthusiasm as he continued to work with the Ft. Worth, San Antonio and Houston swine shows and educational programs for 4-H and FFA youngsters. In 1997, he was recognized by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for 50 continuous years of support as an exhibitor, 4-H and FFA youth advisor and market swine superintendent and the 4-H and FFA Livestock Judging Contest.
He always reminded the parents and leaders to always keep things in perspective. “We are just using pigs to teach youngsters – more important than any grand champion is how this experience has helped the young person become more confident and responsible.”
Learn more about Dr. Tanksley's life in, "Winners Don't Whine, They Hustle", written by Dr. Chris Boleman. Visit www.bolemanpublishing.com.
Hero of Claire Galley • 21 | DeQuincy, LA
In the winter of 2009, passing through Big Spring, Texas, on the way to the National Western Livestock Show in Denver, my dad began to get sleepy at the wheel. Fortunately, our longtime family friend and hero was ready to take over and drive the remaining two thirds of the 20-hour trip.
The same gentleman was at our barn frying oysters and helping a young person get their calf’s hooves trimmed last month. You might have seen him riding atop his long-horned steer at the last District 5 livestock show, which he used to manage for many years. And if you attended his 50th wedding anniversary party, you saw him wearing the very same suit he wore the day he was married.
Regardless of when you last saw Lafayette Fern Swoope, better known as Mr. Teeny, I am certain you will never forget his tall, lanky form and warm Mississippi drawl.
84 years young, Mr. Swoope is a native of Mississippi, but he has dedicated much of his life to the youth of Louisiana, where he worked as a renowned club lamb producer and Calcasieu Parish 4-H Agent. His animal husbandry expertise, patience, and unflinching honesty have benefitted countless members of the livestock show and rodeo community, and those who know him well describe him as appreciative, humble, and genuinely interested in the children he teaches.
Thank you, Mr. Teeny, for always giving us your full attention, your compassion, and your confidence in every young person’s potential.
Hero of Katlyn Britt-Rankin • 21 | Columbia, MO
“Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve” is the motto the FFA teaches its members to live by. Columbia Public Schools instructor, Larry Henneke, exudes that lifestyle.
Henneke graduated from the University of Missouri in December 1989. He has had a passion for teaching ever since.
“I love to see them achieve goals and have success at whatever level they can achieve,” Henneke says.
Students, both current and past, know he loves his job by the excitement and enthusiasm he brings to the classroom every day.
“How many times a day does he say, Did I mention I love my job?’,” says Caroline Sicht, Rock Bridge High School graduate.
“His ability to have fun and still teach really sets him apart,” says Cooper Martin, Hickman High School graduate.
Henneke can often be found in the classroom practicing with his contest teams until 10 at night. Henneke has coached 26 national teams, including 15 national champions and two reserves. The nine other teams all placed in the top 10 at the National FFA Convention.
Henneke’s impact on students carries on after the classroom and into the real world.
“Henneke really brought me out of my shell and taught me how to be a leader,” says Rachael Shields, former student and now, promotional staff at Big Game Treestands. “I know that I can carry on an educated conversation with my colleagues, and many of the subjects discussed are those taught by Mr. Henneke.”
The compassion for Henneke extends past the classroom and into the community because of his charismatic personality.
“I’ve never heard anything but extreme praise for him,” says Kathy Sicht, parent of a Rock Bridge student. In Mid-Missouri no one is a bigger hero in agriculture than high school teacher Larry Henneke.
Hero of Brian Stallings • 35 | Elizabeth City, NC
My hero in ag would have to be my 4-H agent and friend, Travis Burke.
I started showing livestock in our county show when I was in the 3rd grade. A few years later, Travis started a judging team and I was on it. He hauled us all over, judging and practicing. He was a great supporter of anything involving us kids and 4-H.
Sometimes, I think he slept in the office, trying to keep it all going. He could get support for anything we did, from livestock shows to the practice judging trip we took to different parts of the country; we very seldom had to worry about money.
I graduated in 1994, and Travis continued on with his programs until 2010 when he was selected to be the extension director for 19 counties, with our county being one of them. Of course, Travis, not wanting to throw away all he had ever worked for, talked some of the past team members into coaching the team.
I learned a lot of lessons and had a bunch of fun riding in that brown van with him across the state. Hopefully the team now will have the same fun as we did and learn the valuable lessons of life.
Since Travis left in 2010, his position here remains open. He has something to do with the hiring, and I suppose he hasn’t found anyone to give it the 110 percent that he did. I guess you could say he is still looking out for us. I hope my kids have a chance to have an awesome leader and role model like him, as they come up through the program.
Mr. & Mrs. William Light
Hero of Dustin Inge • 15 | Electra, TX
I would like to submit Mr. and Mrs. William Light of Electra, Texas, for this recognition.
I have never showed animals until this year, when I decided to show chickens. The Lights have been beside me every step of the way, and because of their support and love, I won grand champion at the county and local levels.
The Lights give their time to help teach the kids without expecting anything in return. They are there at every show to support us as well, as if we were their own kids. Our wins are their wins, our losses are their losses.
The Lights are true heros and mentors like in the olden days. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to this project.
Mr. & Mrs. banbury
Hero of Jamie Banbury • 24 | Danville, OH
As I look back on my involvement in agriculture and how that began, my agriculture heroes would have to be the two people that have been there to support my adventures every step of the way, my parents.
I learned far more life lessons in the barn helping with chores than I ever did from most of the high priced text books I purchased throughout my college career.
Today, I feel lucky each and every day to work with livestock enthusiasts and help them promote their farms and ranches across the country. But more so, I’m proud to help support their love for agriculture.
I learned about this passion for agriculture early on through both rewards and sacrifices on the farm. Whether it was bringing a lamb into the mudroom with no chance at life and nursing it back to health, or being late to an event because one stubborn ewe decided she didn’t want to wait until we got back to lamb, I always learned something.
Even experiences, like helping dad catch whatever goat decided to escape in town, brought life lessons… not to be confused with humiliation and social suicide!
Ultimately, through agriculture and responsibilities on the farm, my parents encouraged, supported and instilled the values and appreciation I have today for a strong work ethic, responsibility and character. I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunities in life that I’ve had, but none are more significant than being a part of the agriculture industry and learning from such strong examples.
Hero of Kelsey Reed • 20 | Lubbock, TX
As an active member of the American Hereford Association, my childhood was spent serving as co-pilot to my father while we traveled across the United States trailer in tow.
Throughout the miles, my father enforced three unbreakable rules: be the last to leave the barn, always tie a quick release knot, and never bring a filthy animal to the ring.
As a teenager, I considered the barn policies to be irrelevant. But looking back, I finally understand my father was teaching me more than show ring etiquette. While most exhibitors experienced the mysteries of the carnival each night, my father and I could be found at our stall assignments until the last fairgoer left. Always conscious of the barn visitors, my father taught me to be accountable, attentive, and aware.
Since neither of us could agree on a proper method of tying a heifer, we spent hours correcting each other’s knots. My dad preferred a quick- release knot and I tied a stronger, quicker tie. With plenty of lessons from the school of hard knocks, my father knew accidents would happen, which is why his knot had a back-up plan. Now when I have the option, I choose to tie a quick- release knot. I have learned, inside and outside of the barn, it’s important to always expect the unexpected.
At stock shows, my father regarded his comb and towel as an essential piece of his wardrobe, placing them in his left pocket each morning. As a teenage girl, I was annoyed by my father’s persistent tail-cleaning. However, I now realize he was only teaching me an essential element to success: pride.
With the sound of roller coasters and cattle in the background, my father equipped me with knowledge learned in the show barn, but executed in life.
Hero of Amber Shoemaker • 19 | Louisville, OH
Todd Pugh may not be directly involved in the livestock industry, but he is a great leader and motivator to his workers and friends.
Todd started his own landscaping business at the age 14 at his dad’s house, and kept the business growing all throughout his college years. Within 10 years of graduating, his business, Enviroscapes, became a regional leader in the landscaping industry.
Todd grew up on a family farm doing 4-H and partnering in cattle with his brother. Todd now has a family, two girls and one boy, all involved in the beef industry. Helping the kids with their 4-H projects and traveling to shows together, Todd taking time away from his first love to be with his family.
Todd offers a lot to not only me, but the landscaping industry and the beef industry. Todd is a successful business owner and is the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association BEST Chairman. Truly Todd is a natural- born leader. Traveling to the BEST shows with Todd and his kids, we always have great conversations on how to become a better leader and what it takes to have a successful business. He shares his personal views with me on how to become successful like he has done for himself, as the kids are fast asleep in the truck.
I look up to Todd as a leader, a dad, and a friend. It’s great to realize that we still have good people in this world to look up to.
Hero of Megan Harper • 17 | Benton, KY
When I was six, I met a nationally known livestock judge, Terry Burks. He worked for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and was coordinating the livestock expo in my hometown.
Over time, I began working closer with him as my family got more involved with the expo. When he came on visits, we would practice judging and showing livestock. As my passion for showing and judging grew, so did our relationship.
Eventually came the years when I was not able to judge hogs. One day I busted every class we judged. I said, “Terry, we are going to have work on this. I can NOT judge hogs.”
He smiled, then smirked (as he always did) and said, “Megan, it is all in your head.”
A month later, I won the junior swine judging contest at the expo with a perfect score. When Terry called my name to go get my medal and my plaque he said, “I told you so, it’s all in your head.”
You see, my agriculture hero didn’t just teach me lessons about agriculture, he taught me lessons about life. Terry taught me that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many medals are around your neck, or buckles are on your wall, as long as you like who is in the mirror.
The man has taught me about the livestock industry and how far a firm handshake and integrity can take you. He has taught me about the difference between confidence and cocky. But, more than anything, my hero taught me to believe in myself. Terry Burks has shown me how driven I am. “Be the last one in the van, Megan, and the first one out.”