Jack’s Insights April 2018 | TSLN.com

Jack’s Insights April 2018

Jack Whittier
UNL Panhandle Extension District and Panhandle Research and Extension Center director

Each month when I write this article, I consider three principles:

1) What insight can I write about that will uplift and inform readers,

2) In what way can I convey the value of the University of Nebraska to the folks in Western Nebraska, and

3) Are there any lessons I can reflect on from recent and past events in my role as Panhandle Research and Extension Center (PHREC) Director, or experiences in my own life that may be of interest in achieving the first two points?

Let’s see how well I accomplish these principles this month.

I’ll start with a story. While on faculty at Colorado State University, we hosted the Range Beef Cow Symposium in Fort Collins in 2007. One of our speakers was Paul Redd of Redd Ranches in Colorado, and a noted Red Angus breeder. Paul spoke about their ranch’s decision to change calving date to later in the year and what a positive difference it made in their operation. He said that calving later had taken much of the stress out of his ranching business. He jokingly said that the only down side of this change was that his cowboys and horses were getting too fat because calving time had become so easy.

During his talk, Paul told about being out on the range during calving with one of his younger grandsons. As his grandson reflected on being with his grandpa, being outside with cattle in a beautiful part of the ranch, seeing the newborn calves, and considering the fact that he had a wonderful family, his grandson said, “Grandpa, I’m a lucky, lucky boy.”

I often reflect on that statement and think I’m a “lucky, lucky boy” myself. I have a great job in a wonderful part of the world. I get to work with a good group of people at a great university. I’m blessed with a wonderful family like the one Paul’s grandson noted. I have good health. I have, and have had, many amazing opportunities during my career in agriculture.

One of these opportunities was to be part of the initial development phase of the University of Nebraska Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) while I was a graduate student in the early 1980s as GSL was being established. Recently, a group of us at UNL was reflecting on GSL’s value as we wrote an abstract to submit to a professional meeting this summer – the national meeting of the American Society of Animal Science. I’m going to share the abstract with you just as it was submitted. I don’t think it’s too “ivory towerish” – you decide. I do think it reflects well on the value the University of Nebraska – in this case GSL – has on the beef and range industries. Note point 4 in the abstract about calving dates. I’m pretty sure the GSL data was a primary factor in Paul Redd’s decision to change their calving dates mentioned above.