The kids just got on the school bus as she sits down at the kitchen table with a fresh pot of coffee, a tablet of paper and a short stack of envelops.
With the complimentary elevator pen in hand and in her best cursive penmanship, she writes.
She tells them about her farm and the food they produce. She shares the struggles of rolling with market prices, the vagaries of the weather. Her modest pride shines through in her prose.
Letters into envelopes, stamps licked into place, she walks down the driveway and places her missives into her rural mailbox and swings up the red flag.
She hopes they receive her letters within the week and that she, in turn, receives some responses by the end of the month.
The year? 1952.
That’s the year that the American National CattleWomen organization united individual voices of cattle women across the country to share their farming and ranch stories with lawmakers and consumers. Their intent? To impact policy and trade decisions for the good of U.S. cattle producers.
I could envision the scenario above as I attended the Minnesota CattleWomen’s annual meeting Dec. 13 in Willmar, held in conjunction with the Minnesota Beef Industry Convention and Trade Show. Filling a small conference room, an active, enthusiastic group of women spent a full morning, reviewing the events and programs of 2019 and discussed ideas and activities for 2020.
The work they all do is still so very, very important, and I think organizations such as the CattleWomen deserve a huge round of profuse applause.
Along with their daily chores of farm and home, these women find time to do more. As I listened to discussions on various programs, I sensed these strong women leaders were dedicated to their mission.
Indeed, they continue to follow the eloquent directive on the organization’s website: “A Minnesota CattleWoman is a strong, enthusiastic woman, willing to stand up for what she believes in. She is equally at home on a ranch, in a meeting, at a social function or a legislative venue. She is not necessarily a farm or ranch woman, but she is someone who strongly supports the cattle industry and America’s agricultural heritage through education and promotion.”
Specifically this year, Minnesota CattleWomen, an organization that has been around since 1972, is focusing on education, mentoring youth and increasing its membership numbers. Its education and promotion efforts include:
- BEEF Man, a full-costumed “mascot,” complete with cowboy hat, that members can borrow for beef promotion events
- The Beef Ambassador Team program, which provides an opportunity for youth to educate consumers and students about beef nutrition, food safety and stewardship practices of the beef producers
- Supporting and promotion Minnesota Ag in the Classroom
- Supporting and having a presence at the Minnesota State Fair
- Attending local Minnesota State Cattlemen’s events and the Minnesota Education Association annual conference
- Supporting Minnesota Beef Council and associated partnerships
Another thing I noticed during the meeting was how intent the women were with seeking ways to involve the next generation of cattlewomen who would someday step in their shoes. And while they — and I — talk about farming women members, the organization’s leaders made note that it is open to anyone with a strong interest in helping with ag literacy and promotion.
I encourage you to check out the CattleWomen’s website and consider joining this organization. Possibly your other farm, livestock and commodity organizations have similar programs. Look them up online and make a few calls. Consider volunteering for an event or two before you officially join. We all know many hands make for light work.
For all involved in ag education and promotion, thank you!