My daughter came home one night last summer and announced that she did not want to be the student manager and practice with the Cross Country team as a 6th grader when school started in the fall. I then asked her if she was planning to play club volleyball instead. When she responded with a resounding, “NO”, I looked at her and said: “Sweetheart, your last name is Burkholder. Burkholders are involved and we participate. You can make the decision as to which sport you would like to do, but you are going to contribute to one of the teams.”
My daughter not only had a fabulous time participating in Cross Country this fall, but she also proved to be a tremendous runner finishing a middle school 1 mile race in 6 minutes flat and taking second place. It was truly a joy for me to watch her confidence build as she became a member of the team.
As a cattle farmer, I spend most of my time working independently with my animals or with one of my feed yard crew members. This is the work that I love, and it is my primary focus. That being said, I am also a member of the team of cattlemen across Nebraska and nationally that works to improve animal care, beef safety, and other issues pertaining to raising cattle. In support of the team, I give my time and my talents. In return, I also receive the latest scientific and regulatory updates that affect my cattle farm.
I spent time last week at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Annual Convention. As a team, we discussed issues such as cattle health, environmental regulations, taxes, brand inspection laws, and educational issues relative to the University of Nebraska and its animal science outreach extension programs. We also received an update on national issues from Colin Woodall who leads the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Governmental Affairs in Washington D.C.
It is always a sacrifice for me to leave my farm and attend meetings, but I am always so glad that I did because it is such an important part of my own personal continuing education. I learn both how to improve my farm and also to be in compliance with state and federal regulations. Being a part of the team has allowed me to meet some of the best beef farmers and scientists in the country. In addition, I find that my “beef industry” work and involvement continually challenges me to strive for excellence in the everyday operations of my farm.
Perhaps most importantly, I find that the team camaraderie provides support for me, and allows for the growth of both personal knowledge and confidence. I am very thankful that I am a participator (just like my daughter), and hope that my work for the beef team helps to continually improve the industry that I love so much.