Last week, dad and I were in San Antonio for the Cattle Industry Convention And NCBA Trade Show. We were invited as part of the Environmental Stewardship Award Program. We had been named as the Region VII winner of the program. What we didn't know was that this week, we would also be named the winner of the national award as well.
We were shocked. The other regional winners were very deserving of receiving the honor too, and are each doing great work and sharing the message of stewardship in their areas of influence. I would not consider us to be in any way "better" than any of them. It is an honor to be associated with such outstanding people.
I was visiting with a gentleman after the award ceremony. He had told me that hearing about what we do encouraged and inspired him to continue improving his own operation. I was quick to tell him that we don't have it all figured out, and that we see room for our own improvement as well. Then he offered his observations about people who win these kinds of awards. He said they are very often quite humble about what they are doing, and that I was not an exception. I thought about this later, and I came to the conclusion that he's right in his premise. Why? Because I think it takes a humble attitude to come to grips with the idea that things could be better, that I really don't have all the answers, and that I need to find people smarter and more creative or experienced than myself that can help me improve.
I don't believe that we will ever "arrive" at the place where we have it all figured out. I think we are on the right track generally. But I don't think there's a destination at which we stop moving. Proverbs talks about wise and foolish people. Wise people do things like seek wise counsel, accept criticism when it is warranted, and think about the future. Foolish people think only in the short-term, listen to what they want to hear, and mock the wise. There is a difference in the heart and character between the wise and the foolish. Don't know about anyone else, but wise seems like the way to go.
I've had the question from several media people in the last couple days, what has been the most important thing in your success? I think I've been answering wrong. I usually say something about water development, cross fencing, short-duration grazing, etc. I think the answer really is that we've come to grips with the fact that we don't know everything. We are constantly learning, trying to gain knowledge and wisdom.
An exciting aspect of being recognized is that we will now have the opportunity to interact with more people about some of the things we do in fact know…that cattle are a critical part of a healthy ecosystem, that beef is a part of a healthy diet, and about some practices we have implemented on our ranch and how well (or not well) they worked. Equally as exciting is being able to learn as we meet people with new ideas and concepts we have not been around before.
It should be an interesting year!