Friday, October 16, 2015

Trust us to Do Better!

There's a Maya Angelo quote I keep posted next to my mirror, right by a picture of my family and my adorable little nephews. It reads "Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better!" I look at it every single day. I read it every single day. It has meaning every single day of my life as an agricultural student. 

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better!" -Maya Angelo

We in agriculture are doing the best we can. We work hard, sleep little, and never complain while bringing food to the table of our family and yours. We care for our land, we care for our livestock, and we care for our families, including our 4 legged companions that keep us company in the tractor, combine, truck, or pickup. We love it. We love the challenges, the struggles, the setbacks, and the rewards. We're doing the best we can with what we have. But we can do better. We WANT to do better.

Last May, I traveled to Ireland on a Food and
Agribusiness Tour and was given the
opportunity to visit with Irish producers
about their day-to-day practices as
well as policy issues they face.
We strive to be better. That's why parents like mine send their children out on an adventure called college. They encourage us to leave the farm, take a leap, and learn to fly. Thousands of dollars are spent a year teaching the younger generation like myself how to do better. We put in the time and the effort because we have a desire to learn how to care for the fields and the livestock. We want to be able to do what our families have done for years, but better! We know how, we see day in and day out the passion we all share. We build relationships with experts in different fields so we can all work together to feed a growing population. We travel the world experiencing different agricultural systems and talking with producers in different countries comparing and contrasting how farms and ranches are run. We are given these chances for once in a lifetime experiences...

But that's not enough. We need to be allowed to change! We need to be trusted to take the knowledge we have gained and put it to use. Why do we spend so much money on research and advancements and agricultural education if we aren't willing to use that knowledge, that research, and that education? Trust us, we're not the future, we're the now! "...when you know better, do better!"

An Irish farm located in
South West Ireland near Cork.
Let me use my (almost) Bachelors of Science in Agriculture, Animal Sciences & Industry degree. Come December 18, 2015 I will no longer be a student at Kansas State University, but I will still be in the field of agriculture, I will still be working to better the world, and I will always be a Wildcat!

Trust us to care for the livestock in the most humane way. Trust us to care for the fields to keep them in the best shape for many years to come. Trust us to put a safe and healthy product onto your table.

We've learned better, we know better, now let us DO better!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Holding on `til the Whistle Blows!

Well! Now that South Dakota's 2013 Legislative Session is over, I can now update my blog! Yes, that was one of our rules as an intern, we were not allowed to update blogs in case we accidentally revealed some confidential information we overheard in meetings. But, not that I'm cleared to talk about my experience, I hope you'll take the time to see how this internship really did change my life! 

Now, working directly with the members of the elite Cowboy Caucus and being a rodeo fan myself, I find that the best way for me to describe what this journey and the legislative process itself was like is to compare it to the events of a South Dakota Rodeo!

**Also take note, I intended to post pictures, and I will when my internet connection will allow! Check back later!

Bareback Riding: Bareback riding is the start of every rodeo I've ever been to! A great friend of mine rides bareback's professionally and if we're not paying attention or happen to be running a little behind, you miss the whole thing! You're the first ones out of the gate and you never really know what the crowd or the stock are going to be like. Much like that first week of being an intern in the beautiful SD Capitol building. We were given a short orientation but it didn't really help us with what to expect. We were thrown into the bucking chute, strapped into the rigging, and told to hang on and learn as we go! If you're not on top of your game, you miss little details that can later make a huge difference!

Tie-Down Roping: Sometimes it's just you and a horse! (or a bill topic and a computer!) The cowboy is given a task to rope the calf, jump off his horse, catch the calf, tie it down, and climb back up on his horse praying the calf stays down. In more ways than one, this is a combination for failure. Sometimes, that's what we faced as interns. Often, we were given a broad description of what a legislator wanted to write a bill for and sent on our way to research information. Sometimes we'd make it as far as getting on the ground, but our horse didn't back up like it was supposed to and we were scrambling to find a new place to start. Other times we get the calf down and the tie unravels when we find out it wasn't exactly what they were looking for and we start from the beginning the next go-round. And sometimes even with your best effort, you miss the calf all together and have to go back and ask for directions to the next rodeo.

Saddle Bronc Riding: Half the score is the horse, half is the cowboy, but if you can't hang on for 8 seconds, nothing else really matters. Half of a bill's life is the Senate, half is the House of Representatives, but if it doesn't pass the Governor's desk, nothing else really matters! As an intern, we were right there working side by side as these legislators were trying their hardest to get their bills passed. You watched them work heart and soul to make their mark-out and get the bill out of committee and onto the floor. Then after making it past one chamber, they've gotta keep their free hand off the horse while hoping it passes the opposite chamber! If you make you're 8 seconds and it's signed by the governor, you've received you're final score! If not, you're given the option of a re-ride and the chambers vote on it again!

Team Roping: As a member of the minority party in Pierre, we don't have very many interns! There were only five of us total, two in the Senate Chamber (where I worked). Ryan and I often had to work together to complete tasks. One of us was the header and the other the healer, neither one more important than the other and often times we switched roles depending on the topic. For example, when the huge economic development package was being discussed, Ryan and I's job was to keep an outline of what it did, what it cost, and what it meant for South Dakotans. The bill itself was changing daily. If one of us didn't do our part of it, the summary for caucus didn't get put together. If we both put in our efforts and were successful in our task and researches, we stretched the steer and a time was called! But if either of us missed, it was a let down and no time. We worked together, as a team, and a solid one at that!

Steer Wrestling: I personally always enjoy steer wrestling at rodeos. It's a very physical, down and dirty, and dangerous event (not saying other events are not dangerous, because there certainly are!). Unfortunately, with a superminority and supermajority in the capitol, secret deals and dirty politics still happens! As an intern, we hear more than we want and more than we are probably supposed to by just being there everyday and often trusted to tag along to meetings the general public is not allowed into. Sometimes those deals are dirty, they can be dangerous to South Dakotans, and sometimes if you're not careful, they just leave you in the middle of the arena looking like a fool who fell off his horse!

Barrell Racing: A fairly self-explanatory sport itself, I feel as if it fits the generalization of the entire session. That first barrel is legislative day one until crossover day. Those newcomers to the arena are getting over their shock and those who have been there several times are hard at it to make dirt fly. You get used to how the dirt feels, how well your horse is running, and you get a general idea how the rest of your run will turn out. If you tip the barrel and suspend the rules, you lose precious time you could be spending turning for barrel #2. That second barrel is everything from crossover day until the final votes on bills from the other chamber. You've been here before, you've done this already today, and you're into your groove of what the arena and the crowd expects from you. You've not only seen a barrel be rounded, but you've done it yourself. That third and final barrel is from the vote on the General bill until Veto Day! You've given it all you've got, you spend the precious last minute seconds doing what you believe is best for South Dakota and are racing to the home stretch waiting to see what the Governor decides. As an intern, after the legislators have turned those barrels, there isn't much we can do other than urge them along and help correct those little mistakes made around barrels # 1 & #2. Once you cross that line and time stops, you know what the Governor has decided, you know the bills becoming law in South Dakota, and you have ideas for what needs to change for the next go-round.

...and last, but not least...

Bull Riding: I like to compare the thrill, danger, and constant battling of bull riders to those members of the Appropriations committee. It's the last part of everyday. It's the biggest piece of livestock and can very well be the most dangerous. Everyone is waiting for that final event, much like everyone waits for that final budget before they all hit the trails home. No matter what you think, that bull controls what happens next. If they decide not to fund a portion of a bill, the bill's not going through. If that bull decides he doesn't want to leave the arena, guess what, you're going to be there awhile. Session never ends until appropriations has decided where the money goes! The rodeo never ends until the bull decides!

Now, in all seriousness, I absolutely loved this experience! The people I met, the friendships that formed and the raw experience of working with people and having to get things done and get them done now was absolutely amazing! We worked hard, we played hard, and things got done! If you ever are considering doing an internship like this, DO IT! Even if you aren't studying political science (because I'm not!). But politics affects everybody, no matter what they decide to do for a career! Decisions made in Pierre affect all South Dakotans. It's always important to know what's going on in your state and this is the best way to see the inside happenings! I'm more than happy to talk more about this to anyone and actually would love to! Keep updated on the happenings of your state and make your voice heard!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Thanksgiving in Canada, Eh!

View out my plane window
about to land in Regina, Saskatchewan.
This past Thanksgiving week, I was in Canada. Yes, that's right, I spent my Thanksgiving in a foreign country! My brother, sister-in-law, 2 fellow cattle women and I spent the week at the Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Over the week, I learned a few things about Canadians.
(These are all of course based on meeting a few of the cattlemen and women throughout the barns, not necessarily all Canadians)

#1-They are some of the nicest people you will ever meet! They are always saying hello, good morning, smiling, and cheerful! From going out of their way to help someone carry something, to saving someone a spot on the wash racks, to buying you a drink...they are always looking for ways to make someone else's day a little bit brighter!

#2-Since I mentioned wash racks in the previous number...There is a reason they all wear full rain suits while washing in the morning! If you go in with dry clothes don't expect to walk out the same way! You will, without a shadow of a doubt, walk out with soaking wet clothing! This sometimes would not be an issue, but when it is freezing cold in the barn and you go to leave the wash rack, it tends to be rather cold!

#3-They really do say "Eh!" I just thought this was a bad stereotype, but after hearing it all week, I realized it in fact is not. It's part of their regular vocabulary. Not bashing it, not making fun of it (in fact, I rather enjoyed hearing it).

#4-They have some of the most delicious flavored whiskey I have ever tasted! My favorite was the cherry whiskey used in making a paralyzer (a delicious drink with Kahlua, cherry whiskey{or cherry vodka or regular vodka}, coke, and milk). It was probably my favorite because paralyzer is my favorite drink(known as a Colorado Bulldog in the states). Another one we tried was blackberry whiskey. If you ever get the chance to try that, do it! It's worth it!

and finally...

Congratulations to Dennis Serhienko (Serhienko/Voegeli Cattle Co.),
Shane Michelson (Michelson Land and Cattle),

McAcoy Charolais and Medonte Charolais
owners of this beautiful cow (with heifer calf at side)
 who was selected not only as the Champion Charolais 
female, but also the Supreme Champion Female! Congrats guys!
#5-Their cattle are very different. The way they do things at a show is different. The style of cattle is just, different...there really isn't a better word to describe it. Different doesn't mean bad by any means! But it was a learning experience to see mostly cow/calf pairs in the Supreme Champion drive when in the states,a pair will rarely win overall. Their frame sizes are typically larger, their fitting style and showmanship style is similar but not the same as in the United States. I enjoyed watching how things were done.

Overall, it was a great week! I enjoyed meeting many new people, experiencing things a little bit differently, and spending the week with my brother and sister-in-law(since I hadn't seen them since the State Fair in September).Hopefully I will get the opportunity to return to Agribition next year! See you all there!
*Champion Charolais Female in the
First Lady Classic
*Reserve Division winner in Charolais Show

*She sells in Denver at the NWSS

*Full sibling to HF MUSTANG SALLY
*Full Sibling Embryos sell in Denver at the NWSS
*Embryos out her full sister Mustang Sally sell
in Denver on the Embryos on Snow Sale

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Are you Registered?

It's that time of year again! No, I am not referring to the weather, although this could also have an impact on your life for the next 6 months...and beyond! No, what I am referring to is ELECTION TIME! All personal preference for politicians and policy aside, it is important for you to GET OUT AND VOTE!

Here's some important dates to remember:

October 16th-last day to register to vote in KANSAS
October 17th-Advanced voting in person begins in KANSAS
October 17th-First day mail-in ballots are sent out in KANSAS
October 22nd-Last day to register to vote in SOUTH DAKOTA
November 2nd-Last day to request ballot by mail in KANSAS
November 5th-Last day to advance vote in KANSAS

Seriously, if you haven't registered to vote yet, you still have time!! Please go out and get registered so you can vote! This is your future and there are some serious issues that are dealt with. Do you really want to have NO say in what happens in your future? This is your chance to speak up, take your chance, and make your choices!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Plans Change, Friendships Develop, Summer's here!

Since moving home from college in May, my plans have changed on almost a daily basis! I've only been to 1 cattle show and didn't even take any of my own cattle; I haven't seen the friends I intended to; My intention to take a summer class fell through; And yet, I have been just as busy as ever! It seems like all big brother and I have been doing is working cows, working cows, and then working cows again. We've been busy prepping cows and putting in embryos, which I love to do, but it's forced me to decide what's important. The cows have been placed #1 on our list this summer, and therefore put our show cattle on the back burner. 
1 of the 2 SD Senior Team Fitting Teams.
Carli, David, Calder, and Jaden

We just got back from the Charolais Junior Nationals this past week and I didn't take any cattle. This was a very strange feeling, but good at the same time. By not taking any of my own, I was able to help my friends with their show cattle. I still competed in the photography contest, the Team Quiz Bowl Competition, and the Team Fitting Competition. In those, I won Reserve Champion Black and White Photo in the Senior Division and Reserve Champion Quiz Bowl Team. I also got to catch up with great friends that I do not see very often because of the huge distance between us!

SD Girls
Reserve Champion Quiz Bowl Team
Cagney, Abbey, Carli, Cally, and Jill
The AIJCA (American International Junior Charolais Association) Junior Nationals Show and Leadership Conference is a great place to build connections within the Charolais breed and beyond that! You meet so many great people and young breeders who are all striving for the same goal, to be successful within the Charolais breed! Whether that success be in the show ring or outside, we all want to be known for having great cattle. What better way to get there than to have friends in other states with the same goals!? Junior Nationals is always a fun time, even when you don't take cattle of your own. Next year will be my last year, and it will be held in Texarkana, USA! Already excited and planning for this long roadtrip!
William, Jenae, Carli, and Cody.
These boys are good friends of mine from Washington.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Do they Listen?!?

Representatives Boomgarden, Brunner, Carson, Conzet, Cronin, Dryden, Gosch, Greenfield, Haggar, Hansen, Hickey, Hoffman, Hunt, Jensen, Kirkeby, Kopp, Lust, Magstadt, Miller, Novstrup, Olson, Perry, Rozum, Schaefer, Scott, Sly, Solum, Steele, Turbivile, Vanneman, Venner, Verchio, White, Wick, Willadsen, & Rausch...along with Senators Brown, Fryslie, Gray, Hansen, Haverly, Heineman, Holien, Johnston, Juhnke, Kraus, Krebs, Lederman, Maher, Nelson, Novstrup, Olson, Peters, Rampelberg, Rave, Rhoden, Tieszen, & Vehle...You make me ashamed to be a South Dakota Citizen!  

Here's a few questions for the above listed legislators:
1-Who do you work for?
2-What is one of the most important things to remember as a legislator?
3-Do you listen to your constituents?

Granted, some of these above legislators have done some phenomenal things for South Dakota. They have worked on and passed some bills that are really going to be beneficial to the State. But the one thing that all of these legislators have in common is their complete lack of respect for their constituents and their outward show of disregard for the future of our South Dakota educators, and therefore the future of out students.

So, let me continue by answering the previous questions for you...don't forget  to check out the LRC website and look up HB 1234, which passed the state house by 1 vote today!

1-You work for the citizens of the state of South Dakota! Don't forget that! These are the same citizens who elected you and can choose to not re-elect you next November. These citizens who voted you into office with trust that you wouldn't let them down! Well guess what, every single one of you has a school within your district and every single one of you has let that school down! You have disappointed the teachers, the faculty, the students within that school district and have left them wondering "What Now?" What is going to happen to my child when the teacher is worried about teaching for tests, not teaching to learn. What is going to happen if my student is the one scoring a lower test score? What happens when the schools can not afford to keep as many teachers around and my child with special needs loses the only person in that building that he or she trusted? What then? What about those teachers who teach classes other than math and science? Are their subjects deemed less important? Not everything in this world revolves around math and science. Think of all the social workers, the psychologists, the artists that this world, and the education systems within it, have created. Are these a science of some sort? Yes, but they are not the "hard sciences" that are taught in our public school systems. They are however just as important.

2-One of the most important things to remember as a legislator, as Senator Angie Buhl stated many times, is to do no harm! What have you done here? Yeah, that's right, a whole lot of harm! It doesn't say "Do no harm except for teachers, students, youth, parents of students, family of students, school administrators..." It it says "Do NO harm!" Weigh your Pros and Cons here. We heard with all the testimony that the Cons far out numbered the Pros in this situation. In the House today, one Representative mentioned that every problem came with a solution. What solution? and What Problem? Nobody has stated a problem with the way the school districts were being run, yet we needed a solution. Don't fix what's not broken! Let the schools recover from the huge loss they met last year from your legislation. Let them breathe before you are all over them about another topic and something else that they have to change within their school system.

3-Do you really listen? I mean honestly listen to what your constituents have to say? Don't lie to yourselves, because we all know the answer! It's clear that you do not! Of the hundreds of e-mails you received, how many of them were supportive of this bill? How many wanted this to change and wanted merit pay for teachers? I bet that's a pretty minute number compared to the number that wanted this bill killed before it even got out of committee. Pay attention to what your constituents have to say! The teachers and administrators that are contacting you are the experts in the field! Swallow your pride and take some advice every once in awhile! Try being humble on for size! It looks good on most people!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Ironically from the title, keeping up-to-date with this blog has been anything but successful! However, within the show cattle world, Hansen Farms Charolais has had some pretty good days.

With the fall semester over, I was able to go home for Christmas Break and focus on Show Cattle, Show Cattle, and some time in the barn...with the Show Cattle! (Which was totally fine with me!) The heifer I am showing this fall/winter and coming spring/summer is a Firewater heifer calf out of JM Ms Buffy. She is bred by Jordan Mack who was from Watertown, SD and killed tragically in a farming accident. A small reminder that life is short, and we have to take advantage of every situation presented to us. As much as we'd like to think so, our dear friends and family might not be there tomorrow to spend the afternoon with, might not be there to grab that lunch next week, and might not be there to watch us walk down the aisle or hold our first child. Nevertheless, this heifer is quite special to my brother and I and we are excited to see how successful we can make her in upcoming shows.

Now, let's backtrack some so I can fill you in on where we stand with this success. Since the last post was written way back before the South Dakota dirt fair, let's start there.

First thing, the Legislative Beef Showmanship Contest took place and I was once again a coach. This year, like my very first year, I was paired with Senator Larry Tidemann. Let's just say, we rocked! Yes, Champion Showman. I had the honor of accepting his award on stage at the concert in the grandstand that night. Very cool! Thanks to all the sponsors of that show that make it possible!

SD State Fair:
~4 class winners, 2 second places, 3 third places
~First place Junior Get of Sire, Second place breeders herd, Second place group of 5 head
~Junior heifer calf Champion
~Junior bull calf Champion
~Senior bull calf Champion
**Reserve Champion Bull (HF PZC BAZINGA 108)
**Champion Bull (TR PZC MR TURTON 0794 ET) owned with: Cavender Ranches, Thomas Ranch, Watje Livestock, & Nathan Suttles
**Supreme Champion Bull (TR PZC MR TURTON 0794 ET) owned with: Cavender Ranches, Thomas Ranch, Watje Livestock, & Nathan Suttles

North American International Livestock Exposition (Louisville, Kentucky):
**Champion Bull (TR PZC MR TURTON 0794 ET) owned with: Cavender Ranches, Thomas Ranch, Watje Livestock, & Nathan Suttles

Miner County Calf Show (Howard)-Champion Charolais heifer (HF JM ANGEL EYES 25Y)
Thanksgiving Blowout (Watertown)-Champion Charolais heifer (HF JM ANGEL EYES 25Y)
Brookings Winter Calf Show-Reserve Champion Charolais heifer (HF JM ANGEL EYES 25Y)
Davidson County Winter Calf Show (Mitchell)-Reserve Champion Charolais heifer (HF JM ANGEL EYES 25Y)

National Western Stock Show (Denver, Colorado):
~2nd place in class with heifer (HF JM ANGEL EYES 25Y)
**Champion Bull (CML DIABLO 2X) owned by numerous ranches and individuals, shown by Thomas Ranch

We are also getting ready for our First Bull Sale on March 27, 2012 in Aberdeen, SD! (Contact myself or BJ for more information.) Look for more details as we get closer to the date.

Hopefully I'll keep this more updated (I know I said that last semester too!). As South Dakota starts a new legislative session and bills start to hit the floor, more opinions may be streaming through my fingers, or my mouth, depending on how close you are to me. Remember: This is your state! Keep updated on legislative issues that arise and make your opinion known! There is ALWAYS 2 sides to every argument and your voice may be the one needed for change! Stay informed!
-Watertown, SD-
-Watertown, SD-
-Louisville, KY-
Photo credit: Amanda Nolz-Radke
-SD State Fair, Huron-
-SD State Fair, Huron-

Photo Credit: South Dakota Department
of Agriculture
-SD State Fair, Huron-
Accepting the award on the Grandstand! Jenae was my
"guest" so she took pictures from backstage!
-SD State Fair, Huron-

-Denver, CO-

-Denver, CO-

-Denver, CO-

-Denver, CO-

-Denver, CO-

-Denver, CO-

-Denver, CO-

BJ & Jed Watje
-Denver, CO-