A Week with an Arizona Beef Community Dynamic Duo

Welcome to the beef community, where fellow members of the community are not merely associates, but good friends and family. Need an example? Dean Fish from Santa Fe Ranch and Dan Bell from ZZ Cattle Co., also known as the Dynamic Duo. Here at the Arizona Beef Council office, our intern pair, Shayla and Nicole, also consider themselves a “dynamic duo,” and set out to spend a week with the aforementioned pair to experience Arizona ranching life and the hard work involved. Enjoy their story of their week working in this segment of the beef life cycle!

16992318_2000360060191174_6932618317130173501_o
Dean Fish (middle) and Dan Bell (right) are well-known names in the beef community both for their wonderful personalities, and for their experience, knowledge, and contributions to advancing and protecting the beef community.

For two girls who love cattle, horses, and agriculture, there is no way to describe how excited we were to spend a week in Nogales, AZ helping Dan and Dean on their ranches. Not only was it going to be wonderful being back out on horseback gathering cattle, but we were also blessed to spend time working with two extremely knowledgeable cattlemen learning their reasoning behind everything they do to raise cattle, and gaining insight on the beef story as a whole.

IMG_0549
Nicole and Shayla in their alternative office. The Arizona Beef Council internship offers the amazing opportunity to work on education and outreach as well as traveling work hands-on in the beef community.

Day one, we arrived in Tucson with the honor of attending the Southern Arizona Cattlemen’s Protective Association (SACPA) to represent the Arizona Beef Council and share information about the beef checkoff with the side benefit of experiencing firsthand how issues in the beef community are handled. We heard debates, opinions, personal experiences, and propositions from representatives from all aspects of the beef community. We were impressed by the efficiency and careful attention to making the best decision for all members of the beef community, the cattle, the environment, and consumers. Next, we headed to Dan’s beautiful family ranch house (well, we drove ourselves, and quickly learned we both were significantly lacking in our navigation skills.) Dan gave us a small tour of his ranch, followed by a delicious beef dinner and a history of the ranch, Nogales, and what it is like to ranch along the Mexican border. It only wet our taste buds for the millions of questions to come.

IMG_0544
The border between Mexico and America. A very small section has this high fence, while most of the border along the ranching land is simple posts and barbed wire.

Day two, we rose bright and early (there will always be a strong appreciation for western cattle growers who must rise at 3 a.m. and earlier to beat the heat and reduce stress for their horses and cattle) to head out and gather cattle on horseback with Dan and some other hands. He explained how he gathered and rotated cattle to benefit their individual needs in each stage of life, as well as properly manage the rangeland. Then, without hesitation, we jumped right in with the others to sort cattle, brand, castrate bull calves, ear tag, keep records, and vaccinate against common diseases. Dan explained his methods and reasoning behind these practices with the intention to provide the best care and health for his herd, and how individual ranchers choose their methods of work to best fit their ranch conditions including herd size and available labor and facilities. Afterward, we helped test the calves for BVD-PI (Persistently Infected-Bovine Viral Diarrhea. Calves that test positive contracted this virus as a fetus, and it inhibits their ability to fight disease. They shed the virus to healthy calves and cattle the entire time they are present in the herd.) This experience helped solidify the importance of record keeping and proper Beef Quality Assurance practices to ensure consumer safety and confidence in beef. Dan spoiled us afterward with the best apple pie (oh, and a healthy beef lunch too) and we saw more of the ranch as we distributed salt to the cattle. Along the way, we bombarded poor Dan with every question we could think of about the rangeland, neighboring ranches, relations with Mexico, cattle care, and his interactions with, and we aren’t lying, Agent Hamburger, a border patrol agent. That evening we joined in a barbecue, meeting more of the Bell family and friends and enjoyed good company, good food, and more learning (including a lesson for Dean on why you should never mess with giant black bugs; ask him next time you see him, you won’t be disappointed). It was a great way to wrap up a day of learning and appreciation for hard working ranchers who still live everyday family lives.

Day three, we rose early again to head over to Dean Fish’s ranch (still solidifying our need to enhance our navigation skills) where we saddled up and rode out to collect cattle. This time, we brought in the cows and used ultrasound equipment to check if they were bred (it is important to know when cows are bred in order to keep proper records, know when to expect the calves, know which bull the semen came from to help with genetics or herd improvement, and for overall knowledge of the herd.) Along the way, Dean explained the science behind his methods for managing and caring for cattle. He explained how keeping stress levels low allows for the best feedback and response from the cattle, whether giving vaccinations, breeding or performing other care. We were both given the opportunity to palpate a pregnant cow and feel the fetus, afterward hearing Dean’s reasoning behind using ultrasound, and how there are several other options for checking the health of pregnant cows, all with their own positive and negative features, that can be selected to fit any management style. We then rode out to learn Dean’s style of working and checking cattle, checked some waters, and again asked our many questions. It was a unique experience to compare two neighboring ranches and see how quickly the rangeland, facilities, and cattle needs can change and why it is essential that ranchers understand their cattle and their ranch to develop a management plan and provide the best care. After a wonderful, authentic Nogales lunch and dessert (Shayla was already making plans to drive back down to enjoy it again), we drove along the border and were informed about additional impacts of ranching with Mexico as a fence-line neighbor. Afterward, we returned to Dan’s to check more waters and fences (including an on-foot chase after a rogue cow that helped Nicole find a new appreciation for deciding to run cross-country back in high school).

Day four, we woke up with heavy hearts as this was the day we headed back to Phoenix but excited to seize our final hours in southern Arizona. We saddled for the last time to gather horses that had been turned out (if you think this sounds easy, we suggest you go home and watch Spirit), then we were able to help vaccinate them. Afterward, we checked more waters (an essential part of this job during the summer), took our final tour of the ranch checking gates and fences. We saw the direct impact of regulations to stop grazing in certain areas and how it created adverse effects due to the benefit of grazing and its history in the West (remember, before the introduction of cattle, bison roamed the west and grazed similarly).  The example Dan showed us was a riparian stream that consistently had an area of water housing an endangered fish species. For decades, this area was included in a large pasture utilized by cattle, but one day a dead fish was found and Arizona Game and Fish restricted grazing in this area. Sadly, the reduced grazing caused forage to grow rapidly, including trees and shrubs, and quickly the entire stream dried up, killing all of the fish in the area. This unfortunate consequence was a strong lesson on why it is important to understand the fragile balance in an ecosystem and how every action, including grazing, has a role in maintaining the ecosystem. We also learned the impact of predators and other threats to livestock. Our trip culminated with a farewell lunch headed back up to Phoenix, dreaming of our next chance to be back out on the range. After much pressure, we refused to announce a favorite day as both ranching experiences were phenomenal!

IMG_0577
Nicole and Shayla LOVE beef, and dairy too!

Overall, our week with Dan and Dean was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not only did we gain hands-on experience working with cattle, but also learning there is a deep reasoning behind every management strategy and practice implemented by ranchers, as well as the issues they faced in the past, and still face today. Furthermore, we learned how cattle interact with the environment and how regulation and how other confounding circumstances including border security and international relations impact the beef community. With new insight on the beef community, we are now back in the office working to continue to educate America on the ways of the beef community and how we continue to find new ways to serve our cattle, the land, and consumers best. Thank you, Dan and Dean, thank you to the Arizona Beef Council, and most importantly, thank you to the beef community for all you do!

IMG_0534
There is no experience more treasured for these two beef interns than watching the sun rise while out gathering cattle by horseback.

Blog post by Nicole Van Eerd and Shayla Hyde, Arizona Beef Council 2017 Summer Interns.

The V Bar V Ranch: A University of Arizona Gem

Cruising up the I-17 North, you reach Exit 298: Sedona, Slide Rock. A breath-taking hike in Oak Creek Canyon might be your only thoughts; unless of course, you are an Animal Science student at the University of Arizona or a local Arizona rancher looking for some resources. What are your thoughts then? We’re almost to the V Bar V! (You would also be turning right at that exit, instead of left).

17343022_1478710138806500_1157748653046719463_n
A beautiful view as ranchers at the V Bar V move cattle every two weeks as part of an intensive grazing system.

Located in Rimrock, tucked away between the beautiful red rocks and acres of green, rocky, northern Arizona rangeland, is the V Bar V Ranch, an experiment station for the University of Arizona (UA). The Morrill Acts of 1862, 1890, and 1994 ensured that universities such as UA would be instituted to teach agriculture, mining, and military tactics. Land grant institutions now serve as centers for research, extension, and education. Thus, the V Bar V is a priceless resource for local ranchers and students alike, addressing environmental, wildlife and domestic livestock issues applicable to Arizona and the Southwest, providing research and hands-on opportunities for students, and serving as a crucial link between the beef community and academia.

14707833_1323701560974026_2627153869472800784_o
The V Bar V is a working ranch, serving as a comparable resource for other Arizona ranches.

Today, the ranch superintendent at the V Bar V is Mr. Keith Cannon, or as everyone knows him by, Bopper. Bopper is a 4th generation rancher, whose family came to Arizona from Texas in the late 1890’s. He was raised ranching, and in 1990 participated in an educational program sponsored by the University of Arizona for ranchers. He brought his two sons, Keith and Jacob, and their involvement was so praiseworthy that they received an invitation to the Santa Rita Ranch for a similar, more extensive opportunity. Shortly after, Bopper was invited to be involved in research, then serve as a cowboy at the V Bar V Ranch, working his way up his current position as ranch superintendent and later joined by his son Keith in 2001.

14692041_1323703427640506_9211379197313490478_o
Keith and Bopper are a hard working team and work efficiently to keep time for family at the end of the day.

Bopper shared, “The V Bar V is a unique opportunity to combine old school ways and traditions with new technologies. The goal today is to run this experiment station as a profitable ranch to serve as a model for Arizona ranchers while showcasing the ability to improve continuously by using new technologies and research.” The current focus is improving cattle breed genetics and creating more cross-breed cattle that perform well in Arizona conditions (high drought and heat tolerance) while still grading high in meat quality. With those goals in mind, the Waygu breed was introduced to the predominantly Angus and Hereford herd and found that the cattle were well-suited for the environment while grading 90% choice or better.

Bopper sees the importance of the V Bar V in outreach to Arizona ranches, commenting, “It’s easier for ranchers to accept strategies from a fellow cowman than from academia. We aren’t just saying this is what you need to be doing. We are showing them that we are also doing it ourselves and it’s working.”

14611122_1322000157810833_1350048052962601541_n
While the V Bar V employs efficient strategies such as four-wheelers for gathering cattle over large, rocky areas, they still embrace ranching traditions like gathering horseback.

Ever been to the Phoenix Zoo? If so, you’ve most likely been directly touched by the V Bar V. Do you remember seeing the Hereford cow in the farm section? Yes, the one with the cute calf that visitors get to help name each year. She came from the V Bar V! And every year, Keith and Bopper, along with their interns, prepare and breed her so zoo attendees can continue to learn about the beef community.

16938963_1456571744353673_8039445036204155202_n
This cow and calf are happily being raised on the ranch, just like the pair representing their story to the community at the Phoenix Zoo.

The positive impacts in helping local ranchers and the community are only part of the mission of the V Bar V. Bopper smiles as he comments, “The most enjoyable thing about my job is working with students and interns. There is a lot of heritage on my side, and it’s great to be able to pass that on.” Bopper has welcomed interns from Japan, South Africa, Brazil, France, Germany, and around the United States. He views them all as part of his family (rumor has it, his wonderful cooking proves helps build this sense of community!). Interns, high school and university students alike participate in calving classes, branding, and cattle handling, along with basic veterinary practices. Bopper aims to spark their interest in both the cattle community and the University of Arizona.

This year’s intern, Andrew Miles, says, “The V Bar V is a crucial part of the University’s Animal Science program, providing opportunities for students to learn about cattle and ranching. Furthermore, its unique location includes rangeland transitioning from low to the high desert, spruce and brush, and all the way up to high mountain country. It serves as an incredible resource for  students from a variety of academic backgrounds to be involved in research benefiting many different fields of study and the state of Arizona as a whole.”

14721509_1305889406102441_8402360163695978775_n
Andrew Miles, the 2017 Summer Intern, has benefited from the V Bar V through Animal Science courses at the University of Arizona, working at the UA feedlot, and now working on the ranch.

Want some wisdom from the ranch that every intern learns?

From Bopper:

“Don’t ever tell me you can’t do something… Tell me you won’t, but can’t isn’t in my vocabulary.”

“Every morning when I wake up and go outside, it’s a new day, so every day you must be open to learning something new.”

“I’m always looking for the missing link, and that’s Newton’s Law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you manage and make decisions based on the reaction, you are always two steps ahead. What you do today will affect tomorrow; what you do tomorrow will affect the future.”

14480601_1301284526549063_4636761684368430565_o
Interns work hands-on, learning practices such as ear-tagging that allow for proper identification and record keeping for the best possible care of cattle.

“The most important thing I have learned is how well you can integrate new technologies and ideas into tradition. Keep challenging yourself and never stop trying to improve methodology,” says Keith Cannon who has been involved in the University of Arizona’s School of Animal Science since 1997 as a student, working at the feedlot for ten years, and now helping run the ranch.

13938187_1247480968596086_1186724804880850939_o
Keith helps a student learn to check a cow’s pregnancy, an important component of keeping cattle healthy and updated in records.

While at the ranch, Hyatt, Keith’s son, gave us a wonderful tour of his market goat project and we were enlightened on the importance of knowing your animals and knowing their needs (and we got to see a newborn kid! I guess ranches aren’t always just about the cattle.)

13100931_10207873258222754_2166848693627388861_n
Being directly involved in agriculture is important for future generations like Hyatt to gain an understanding of where their food comes from, and an appreciation for the animals!

Bopper and Keith show a beautiful picture of a generational love of ranching traditions as well as improvement, and display the importance of extension resources including the V Bar V. There is plenty that the ranching community, the public, and students can learn from the V Bar V, and we agree with Keith and Bopper’s final desire: “We hope that the UA keeps the V Bar V as an operational ranch and that it can become more useful to the University as well as Arizona ranches, serving as a true extension resource for the state.”

14434808_1301283813215801_1009312745257552989_o
The V Bar V has an endless positive impact on educating present and future members in the beef community, including teaching proper cattle handling practices.

Blog post by Nicole Van Eerd, Arizona Beef Council 2017 Summer Intern.

Ranchin’ and Rodeoin’: The Tale of the Parsons Fathers

Arizona beef truly is raised by families, for families; and, Father’s Day provides the perfect opportunity to showcase a family of strong men who not only make major contributions to the beef community and the sport of rodeo but also portray the traits of an outstanding father. If you’ve heard of Marana Stockyards, you’ve probably heard of the Parsons.

Parsons 008
Clay Parsons with his wife Karen, son Clay Buck, and daughters Mallory, Carly, and Haley.

Clay Parsons was born in 1961 in Carlsbad, New Mexico to Charlie Parsons and Cookie Paddock, and this is where their strong father-son relationship began. At three years of age, Clay began riding horses and helping on their small ranch (well, at least he thought he was helping, you know how helpful most three-year-olds are, much less when on horseback). He fell in love with the lifestyle and for the remainder of his childhood he continued working on family ranches in New Mexico, and later in Arizona.

Parsons 007
The Parsons have always been passionate about passing down the cowboy way of life and giving opportunities to younger generations.

At the age of five, Clay’s rodeo career began. His father, who rode broncs, introduced him to the rodeo world, and Clay tried everything! He learned how to rope in New Mexico, where he grew up around cowboys who quickly became his role models. Clay shared, “They had the greatest influence on me. They were real cowboys. I did not want to just be a rodeo cowboy, I wanted to ranch AND rodeo.”

Parsons 003
As most young cowboys do, Clay followed in his father’s footsteps and for a little while tried his hand at rodeo rough stock.

Throughout his life, Clay had a strong love for cattle. Whenever he was driving around with his father or anyone else, he was always looking over the fence line at cows, studying them and calling out the breeds. “My room was full of pictures of cows. Not rodeo champions, but cows. I just loved cows,” recalled Clay. He was overjoyed when, at seven years old, his father bought a small ranch in Oracle, AZ. Money was sparse at the time so they would buy roping heifers then later turn them out on the ranch, building a small herd. Clay remembers when their random assortment of roping heifers finally reached maturity and was ready for a bull: “Dad and I went to Wentz Livestock Auction in Tucson, and we bought a bull.”

Parsons 006
Years later, the Parsons still love to be out on a ranch. Without it, Clay knows something is missing in his life.

Clay would walk home from school, either on foot or by horseback, as often his horse was tied up outside the school waiting, and then go check all the cows. “I checked those cows every day except on the weekends when I was rodeoing,” explained Clay. This is where the story hits his favorite memory with his father: “I was nine-years-old and two-thirds of those cows had calved. We had family and friends at our place to help gather the herd and brand. As we were bringing in the herd, I said ‘Dad, we’re missing three.’ Dad said not to worry about them. We would take care of them later. As soon as he went over the ridge, I went back for them.” Clay remembers everyone wondering where he had disappeared to with the answer to the question arising as he came up over the ridge with the three missing pairs. He was scolded at first but then brought to the side where he heard the words he’ll never forget, “Son, good job. You’re gonna be a cowman.”

Parsons 016
It’s no wonder they have a love for their lifestyle, Clay Buck and all the Parsons grew up in the saddle.

Although there were years when Clay and Charlie did not have a ranch of their own, the Parsons continued to be a strong father/son name in the cattle world. Clay married the beautiful love of his life, Karen, at eighteen, who quickly jumped right into the lifestyle. Later, there was no ranch for Clay to run and he worked for his father’s business, Parsons Steel Builders. He hated it, and went out on the road to rodeo, with a dream of making it to the National Finals Rodeo. He recalls being in Livermore, California at a rodeo where he sat in the top fifteen for calf roping and was almost there for team roping. His dad called Clay asking him if he wanted to lease and run a ranch and Clay’s response was a simple, “I’ll be there in 14 hours.”

Parsons 014
Clay continues to pay tribute to the New Mexico ropers who were his role models by being a role model of many young ropers today.

Today, the love for cattle and ranching stays strong in the Parsons family. They built Marana Stockyards after many years of learning and hard work, and still, raise cattle on a ranch near Picacho Peak. If you’re ever around Marana, or at a big rodeo, you’ll most likely see Clay or maybe his father Charlie. If you’re out on their ranch during branding season, you’ll see his brothers Joe and Cutter along with other members of the Parsons family. Maybe at the stockyard you’ll find one of Clay and Karen’s lovely daughters (who all showed cattle as youth). Carly, who helps during the cattle sale, or his son, Clay Buck, who keeps the place running. If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a glance of Clay’s grandson Cooper, who sometimes helps call out pen numbers to the riders out back putting the sold cattle back in the correct pens (don’t worry buyers, Carly makes sure the pen backers know where to put your cattle).

Parsons 001
Cooper loves cattle as much as Clay, but he sure loves Grandpa even more!

We start with a father like Charlie, who had a strong influence on his son’s self-sufficiency and taught him to not only do what he loved but also to do it successfully. Next, we move to a father like Clay, who never runs out of words to express his pride and love for his hard-working son, a genuine man who everyone loves and respects, or his beautiful daughters. Finally, we end with a little grandson, Cooper, who never ceases to bring a smile to Clay’s face and attributes to why the Parsons men are so dedicated. Clay says, “I see Cooper liking the same things we like and I want the next generation to get to grow up the way we did.” These men exemplify what it means to be a father. Clay kindly advised, “There are some things you won’t understand until you have a grandson.” Well, Clay, there are some things the world only understands when they look at generations of amazing ranchin’ and rodeoin’ fathers like the Parsons.

Parsons 011
Since day one, Clay and Charlie have been an inspiring father/son team.

Blog post by Nicole Van Eerd, Arizona Beef Council 2017 Summer Intern.

Father’s Day Favorites Features… BEEF!

Father’s Day is fast-approaching, and what better way to appreciate the role of a father than by preparing him a hearty, home-cooked beef dinner. While it does not have to be Father’s Day, nor do you have to be a father to eat beef, a day like this calls for special attention to this beloved red meat. We asked some local ranch dads what their favorite beef meals are as they should know how to best prepare a hearty, tasty beef meal after spending all day out on the range!

Picture 263
Bas Aja with his grandson.

“A thick and juicy RIBEYE,” stated Dan Bell who picked the cream of the crop while many others attested to its supremacy as their favorite meal. “Do you need any time to think?” “Nope! Ribeye on mesquite, with salt and pepper. Garlic salt” was the rapid reply of Bas Aja, Executive Vice President of the Arizona Cattle Feeders’ Association and a rancher in Southwestern Maricopa County. Dean Fish agreed, also specifying over mesquite. Maybe we need to check this one out in the office!

13690969_1211135898920285_3494090143929282798_o
Dan Bell and family all dressed up at the annual Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association convention.

Of course, all beef is great and some fathers had a little harder of a time settling on one beef dinner. Jim Webb of the Scottsdale, AZ answered, “Anything that comes with beef is good. If I had to pick one, it would be a steak dinner. Steak with potatoes. No vegetables…well, maybe asparagus.” Out on the V Bar V Ranch in Rimrock, AZ, Bopper Cannon gave a vote to the rib steak. His son, Keith Cannon, who is also a dad, was raised right with good beef cooking and wasn’t even willing to specify a cut, “Anything!”

17799486_1663342447015580_6590334465375513387_n
Dean Fish with his son, Garrett, and daughter, Laurel, receiving his president’s buckle from the Arizona National Livestock Show.

Wes Kerr from the Kerr Dairy in Buckeye, AZ followed suit in loving all cuts of beef, but managed to narrow it down while proving to be a fan of his mother’s cooking by saying, “Ooooh I like it all!! Hmmmmm, well my mom makes THE BEST meatloaf.” And in case you’re reading this Wes, we’re expecting an invite over for dinner to prove this true!

Processed with Snapseed.
Wes Kerr and family at their family dairy, Kerr Dairy.

Some other popular favorites include grilled tri-tip, volunteered by Patrick Bray, rancher from Goodyear, AZ and a vote for grilled brisket from Joe King of Green Valley, AZ, who also informed us, “We are actually having that for our dinner on Sunday [Father’s Day]”.

14212829_848442801808_7995172224627718834_n.jpg
Joe, Sarah, and Evelyn King.

With ground beef, steaks, ribs, roasts, and more, there are endless combinations for delicious and nutritious beef meals that fit you and your family. Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner can help you plan your next meal. The Interactive Butcher Counter allows you to explore the different meat cuts while providing information on how to cook those cuts, the nutrition facts, and some tasty recipes.

14316730_1739358099650648_1660983750153112387_n
A great example of an Arizona ranching family: proud of each other and proud of their beef! Pictured are the Aja and Bray families.

Every dad enjoys a delicious home cooked meal, and what better dinner foundation than beef, packed with powerful protein and 10 essential nutrients? After reading some favorites from fathers out in the beef community, we hope you gain some inspiration and enjoy beef as much as they do! From Arizona Beef to all the fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!

Blog post by Nicole Van Eerd and Shayla Hyde, Arizona Beef Council 2017 Summer Interns.

2017 Summer Agriculture Institute

 

Another successful week is coming to a close for the Summer Ag Institute. Every year, the University of Arizona Maricopa County Extension Office, along with other representative organizations including the Arizona Beef Council, plan a weeklong agriculture tour for kindergarten to high school level teachers from all over Arizona. Teachers fill out applications, and thirty are selected each year as participants of the tour to learn about the Arizona agriculture community surrounding them. This knowledge is then passed on to students within their classrooms.

IMG_8794
The 2017 Summer Agriculture Institute participants in an alfalfa field at the Maricopa Ag Center.

This year, teachers experienced a variety of agriculture community aspects including the Arabian horse wonder known as Los Cedros USA, the University of Arizona Maricopa Agriculture Center and its research, various crop farms, and livestock ranches. They ended the week by splitting into small groups and spending a few hours enjoying a genuine, hands-on experience of everyday farm life with local farm families, followed by an intensive workshop on incorporating what they have learned about agriculture into their curriculum.

The tour was also a beneficial representation of the Arizona beef community. On Tuesday, the teachers visited the Groseta W Dart Ranch where they learned about raising cattle and how ranching intertwines with the economy and environment. Andy Groseta explained to teachers, “We are the only nation on the face of the earth where you can go to any store on a Monday and ask for any food you want in any quantity and get it by Friday. The only thing stopping you is your pocketbook. We are very efficient at what we do, and that was not an overnight thing; it started in 1776.” As he discussed ranch activities, his fifth-generation family ranch tradition, and his love for the land and his cattle, teachers gained insight on this piece of the beef community. Tracey Dodrill from Cocopah Middle School told us this stop was her favorite, “I loved meeting the Groseta family and learning that ranchers are people just like me. I want to be adopted into their family!” The ranch was a great transition into a delicious meal at Roux 66 and a discussion with the Diablo Trust which further highlighted the beef community’s dedication as environmentalists to raise healthy beef while taking proper care of livestock and the environment while involving consumers.

Wednesday included a stop at Perkinsville Meat Processing, followed by Thursday’s tour of Heiden Land & Cattle and Triple G Dairy. At Heiden Land & Cattle, Paul Heiden took the teachers on the next step in the beef raising journey by giving a tour of his feedlot.  He explained how they raised Holstein steers with a carefully calculated diet, and answered questions about cattle feed, the beef product, and animal welfare practices including Beef Quality Assurance procedures. “We care a lot about our cattle and what they are eating, and consult a nutritionist frequently. We don’t do what we do just for regulation; we do it for the wellness of our cattle,” Paul shared.

0608170922c_HDR
Paul Heiden educating teachers on the importance of the cattle’s diet and grain processing, comparing whole and steamed corn.

After stopping at the Triple G Dairy, teachers were able to add learning the differences between the Holstein and Jersey breeds, seeing the stages of each cow’s life from calf to milking cow, and witnessing firsthand the dairy’s state of the art technology including a milking carousel, to their list of experiences. One teacher, Suze Manci, commented: “I now understand why producers do what they do. They have a passion for feeding you, and they have to be able to do that.”

IMG_8818
A Jersey calf at Triple G Dairy, definitely one of the teachers’ favorite stops.

Members of the beef community were given the opportunity to showcase their family business, explaining how they raise their animals and add to their unique piece of beef’s gate to plate journey while answering teachers’ questions.

IMG_8814
Jeremy Krones from the Diablo Trust explaining the non-profit organization created to promote social, biological, and economic sustainability in the ranching community.

Overall, the 2017 Summer Agriculture Institute allowed teachers to connect again, or for the first time, with the true source of their food, fiber, and fuel. Furthermore, the teachers gained skills on how to incorporate these concepts into their K-12 classrooms so that future generations even further removed from agriculture still understand the gate to plate journey and how everyone is touched by agriculture every day.

IMG_8824
Andy Groseta welcoming the teachers onto his ranch and explaining how ranchers, and those who live off the land, are true environmentalists.

“I’m finding a lot of new ways to incorporate what I’ve learned about agriculture into my 7th-grade science unit.”

“I had a meat science minor in college, and it’s great to be able to go back to feedlots and places I have been before.”

“I teach middle school math and have started an agriculture elective in the afternoon to try and start an FFA program early on. It’s the nature of Duncan [Arizona], and I want to go back to that.”

These are just a few of the endless quotes from excited, and, at the end of the week, very tired teachers who enjoyed this year’s agriculture institute, and we are thankful to be involved another year helping ensure the connection between the agriculture community in the field to those in grocery stores and around the table.

IMG_8821
Two Angus cross cattle on the W Dart Ranch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Post by Nicole Van Eerd, Arizona Beef Council 2017 Summer Intern.

Meet an Arizona FFA Member: Kailee Zimmerman

17951993_10209201168682692_6340779997077207387_n
Kailee and her steer at the 2017 Maricopa County Fair auction.

Having the opportunity to serve as the Arizona Junior Beef Ambassador has been an absolute thrill and privilege!  I really do heart beef!!  My family ranched in southern Arizona in a small settlement called Klondyke when Arizona was still a territory. This is in the Aravaipa Canyon near the Graham Mountains, which is about an hour outside of Safford.  My great grandpa Neuel Weathersby started the family tradition of raising polled Herefords.  Though my grandparents sold the 7K Bar Ranch, they moved north and ran cattle on other ranches throughout the state.  I am so thankful to have been raised understanding the legacy of these amazing cattlemen as well as the example of my parents who are so very passionate about American agriculture.  It is from them that I get my love for Herefords and passion for the beef industry as a whole.  I have enjoyed carrying on their legacy by raising cattle of my own and being a member of the Arizona Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo Association.  I recently bred my first heifer this year, and I am so excited to start my own herd with her offspring as well as my younger cattle.

17522815_10209183800568500_2817269657865241614_n
Kailee and family with her Reserve Supreme Champion Female at the 2017 Maricopa County Fair.

My family has been heavily involved in FFA for years. My dad, aunt, and uncle have served as state officers. My dad also was an ag teacher when I was little, and my friends and family members have grown because of the amazing leadership skills acquired through being an FFA member.  I wanted to have this opportunity so badly! However, I have attended a small charter school, that I love, since fifth grade, but it did not have an FFA program.  Thanks to my incredible parents and headmaster, we were able to get a chapter chartered! Being a member of Trivium FFA has been such an incredible blessing, not only for me but also for those in my chapter.  Many people today are so far removed from where their food comes from and, even more so, from the incredible people who raise and grow it.  Being a member of FFA has been yet another venue for me to share truths about the industry and community that I am so passionate about and proud to be a part of.  I know that the skills and experiences I gain through the FFA are invaluable – from public speaking to budgeting, and from leadership skills to learning how to work as a team.  I know that I will often turn back to these skills throughout my life to help me, and I will look back fondly at all the memories made with members of my chapter and the Arizona FFA Association.

15095603_10207928102376830_346046602982767038_n
The blue jacket! FFA is known for the blue corduroy jacket members are required to wear at official events.

I am elated to be able to attend my very first State Leadership Conference as an FFA member this week.  Though I have had the privilege of attending a few sessions before, the feeling of sitting amongst the “sea of blue jackets” is indescribable.  It has been incredible to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.  At the opening session of the conference, Trivium FFA will be recognized as a newly chartered chapter, and it will symbolize the culmination of hard work and perseverance of so many people.  How grateful I am for them.  Because of their efforts, the members of Trivium FFA, as well as myself, can have a wealth of true knowledge and countless opportunities to learn and grow.

15442289_10208142706141790_2071959466316720964_n
Trivium FFA at their first Midwinter State Conference. The group participated in Ag Sales, Food Science, Wildlife, and Floriculture contests with Kailee placing in the top ten individuals for Ag Sales and the entire Ag Sales team placing fourth.

Happy State Leadership Conference week to all!  I hope it is filled with tons of laughs and memories made!  May your herds be healthy and let’s all pray for rain!

Kailee Zimmerman
Arizona Jr. Beef Ambassador

15095102_10207940633050089_8484801700846087559_n
Founding members of the Trivium FFA Chapter attending their first Career Developement Event.

Memorial Day Round Up

The biggest weekend for grilling is here and we want to make sure you are prepared to impress your friends and family! We’ve compiled resources for you which include recipes, grilling tips, and more. Basically, just lots of reasons to fire up the grill this weekend and cook a delicious beefy meal!

beefhero-1495666243989-null-HRThe Beef Checkoff Releases its Most Coveted Recipies and New DIY Burger Bar Video to Make Summer Grilling and Entertaining Even Tastier
If you’re making burgers you’ll want to make sure and check out this link. A video, lots of ideas, and delicious results guaranteed.

34033354683_682b71d3d8_bTumeric Rubbed Reverse Seared New York Strip with Bok Choy
Girl Carnivore knows her beef. If you want an amazing eating experience, you’ll want to check her out.

8-19-2016_marinades_9The 100 Best Burgers in America, Ranked by Our National Burger Critic
So not everyone wants to cook out this weekend and that’s okay! This link will give you the best 100 burgers to try out around the country. Here’s an idea. Make this list into a road trip! Find the best burgers closest to you, grab your best pal and hit the road.

cowboy-ribeye-herbs3 Reasons to Grill Steak This Weekend
Do you really need more reasons? Well, if you do check out this gal. Flavor, health, and budget all sound like good reasons to us.

Gate to Plate with the Arizona Culinary Institute

Arizona Culinary Institute students from the classes of Basic Culinary Skills, Meat Fabrication, and Baking filtered into a classroom of a different kind on an unseasonably chilly morning in May, ready for a tour of Arizona beef, from gate to plate. The room rang of excitement, anticipation, and sleepiness, as we did get started at 7:30 am. The real diversity and personalities of the classes began to emerge with introductions. The students were asked to tell us their name and their first memory of cooking. The future chef’s answers ranged from cookies to tamales, but there was a common theme: cooking with family. Lauren Scheller, Arizona Beef Council assistant executive director, made a connection with the group by saying, “Just like you all are passionate about cooking and feeding people delicious food, so also are Arizona ranchers passionate about raising quality and delicious beef for you to cook and serve to your restaurant guests.”

IMG_8619.JPG
Students all geared up for the JBS tour.

JBS, USA in Tolleson, Arizona was the first stop on the agenda. JBS continues to be a reliable partner in educating influencers on how beef is processed and this year was no different. Bill Munns, director of marketing & product management, graciously set up the tour and James Stell, operations manager, hosted an excellent tour of the large plant. Honestly, the results of this year’s tour weren’t much different from past year’s, which was also positive. The students went home with an understating that quality animal care is a priority all the way through the lifecycle of a beef animal and continues until that animal is harvested. The Ah-Ha moments are always fun to hear as most often people are amazed at the lack of “gross” they had envisioned and how the entire process is kept clean and safe.

A delicious steak lunch by Bruce Brown Catering at the Buckeye Elks Lodge with a brief overview of the beef lifecycle followed the plant tour. The morning’s excitement had not yet dissipated, and the room only grew quite when the New York strip carving station was assembled. The anticipation was palatable. A brief presentation by the Arizona Beef Council’s Lauren Scheller and Tiffany Selchow covered the beef lifecycle with tips on decoding the many labels on beef packages and the nutrition beef offers us.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The beautiful outdoors greeted us as we stepped off the bus at Heiden Land and Cattle for a tour of the Heiden family’s feed yard. The seventy-six-degree weather made for a perfect backdrop as the students walked to the feed mill which steams and flakes corn, the bins of different grains and hay while learning how all these ingredients were mixed to provide the cattle a complete and balanced diet. Paul Heiden guided the tour to the cattle pens for more learnings the daily cattle care. This was followed by a detailed look at the working facilities which are used to tag, treat, and care for animals when they are first entering the feed yard or if an illness arises, which isn’t too common. Paul shared, “The care of our animals and the land we use is our top priority, and we are always excited to show off our feed yard to future chefs!”

IMG_4734.JPG
Arizona Culinary Institute students with the cattle of Heiden Land and Cattle.

Last chance for photos with the steers was given and then it was back on the bus to leave rural Buckeye and head back to the center of the 6th largest city in the United States. These culinary students left the Arizona Beef Council Gate to Plate tour armed with first-hand information straight from the feed yard owner and packing plant manager’s mouths. Honestly, we don’t think there is a better kind.

ABC board chairman Wes Kerr emphasized, “The Arizona Beef Council places immense value on the relationships the Gate to Plate Tours provide to cooking and nutrition influencers, such as the students at the Arizona Culinary Institute. We need to continue to be their first reference when faced with questions about how beef is raised or how it fits on a menu.” This tour is made possible by the Federation Initiative Fund, supported by beef councils in states where there are more cattle than people, and the Arizona Beef Council.

 

Only the Best for Mom: Beef Brunch Recipies

happyMother's DayTo say a mother is an especially important person is a severe understatement. She sacrifices all she has, social life, finances, hobbies, and more, to ensure her children are properly cared for and loved beyond measure. Mothers are also given the job of disciplinarian which encompasses more than just laying down the law, but also provides her children with a structure and moral compass pointing in the right direction for use later in life. She also worries about things she can’t change or prevent, but never the less, she worries. She worries about the dangers of the world and constantly thinks how to can ensure those risks never fall upon her children.

Each year, we celebrate our Mothers on only one day. During this day of celebration, we try to show our moms how much we care, but it’s a challenge to shove all that gratitude in one day. From flowers to jewelry, there are many options for mom, but we are partial to one idea. And that is a lovely brunch, cooked with love, and served to her in bed. She gets up every morning to ensure everyone is ready to go for their busy days, it’s mom’s turn to take a load off and enjoy some pampering.

beef-breakfast-waffles-with-mango-syrup-close-up.jpg
Courtesy of the Beef Checkoff

Beef Breakfast Waffles with Mango Syrup

steak-tartine
Courtesy of the Beef Checkoff

Breakfast Brisket Tartine

brazilian-style-beef-sausage-pinwheel.jpg
Courtesy of the Beef Checkoff

Beef Breakfast Pinwheels

beef-breakfast-sausage-goat-cheese-egg-bake-with-hash-brown-crust-vertical.jpg
Courtesy of the Beef Checkoff

Breakfast Sausage and Goat Cheese Egg Bake with Hash Brown Crust

Meet Your Rancher: Anna Aja

IMG_5927 (002)

Arizona Beef Council: Where you are located? I live in Stanfield (in between Casa Grande and Maricopa) but my husband and I partner on a desert ranch south of Buckeye and I sell beef from my parent’s ranch in the Verde Valley.

What segment of the beef community are you involved in? Cow-calf/meat sales/mom/association staff.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch.
Anna Aja: I grew up the 4th generation on my family’s ranch in Cottonwood. I truly believe it was the best way to grow up. I am thankful for the independence it instilled in me and for the responsibility I was given in raising and caring for livestock. I was active in 4-H and FFA and served as the State FFA President my freshman year of college. I attended the University of Arizona and received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Economics. My husband and I actually met when we were 15 at an Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association convention but we re-met our freshman year and have been together ever since. We now have three kiddos, Basilio (5), Andy Marie (3) and Perry Craig (1). A year ago, I started selling beef directly to the consumer from our family’s ranches. I’ve always wanted to do it and since I’m located near such a large metro area I thought I would give it a shot. Our beef company is called 9F Cattle Co. 9F is the brand my husband’s grandmother gifted us after we got married and is what we use to identify our cattle. It was her father’s and she told us that the 9F stood for the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” –Galatians 5:22-23

IMG_6580
A throwback photo of Anna with sister Katy on the family ranch.

How does the technology you use now differ from the technology that was passed down to you or that generations passed may have used on this ranch?
In regards to my direct sales, with today’s technology world, launching my beef sales business was completely different from when my grandpa and his dad would wagon their meat and produce from Middle Verde up to the mining town of Jerome. First I got my website set up and decided to utilize an order form that took customer information but I would take payment upon delivery. Once that was complete I started my Facebook page and began to utilize word of mouth referrals and purchase advertising on social media that hit my desired target audience. I still do plenty of handshake deals which is gratifying to be able to work with people who are true to their word.

What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the beef you raise and sell?
When I sell beef to a consumer I really enjoy that personal connection. And I’m thrilled when they have questions about our ranch or cattle. I do find my customers are often surprised that the majority of our cattle don’t get sold directly but in fact go through the conventional method and end up in a Fry’s or Safeway somewhere. I always see a light bulb go off when they realize that the beef that is found in their local market was raised with care and respect by a family just like mine. I do take pride in the beef we sell and do consider it to be premium as it is dry-aged 21 days, custom cut for my customers and delivered to their doorstep.

IMG_5931 (002)
Bassie, the oldest of Anna’s children, loves helping on the ranch.

 

What is the most important thing that you want people to know about beef?
I’m often faced with someone who is nervous to purchase a lot of beef because they mention an inaccurate health claim. I want people to know that beef is part of a heart-healthy diet, that you can eat well and enjoy what you’re eating.

What is the most important piece of information that you want people to know about you and your family’s beef?
We take a tremendous amount of pride in doing a job well. We care about our animals’ quality of life and respect them for the protein they provide us. We care about the environment and being sustainable – we want to pass on our ranches to future generations. And finally, that the beef we raise and sell to them and their family is the same beef we feed our family.

If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Cyclical.

IMG_3603
A delicious meal always includes beef!

 

Lastly and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?
I’m a ribeye girl through and through and I want it grilled over charcoal or mesquite by my husband. But really, I love brisket, tri-tip, flat iron, short ribs and more. One of my all-time favorite recipes is this one by Anne Burrell – I’m actually making these on Sunday!