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Motivated, standing proud, speaking for cattle producers

Jeri L. Dobrowski
Photo byJulie EllingsonChad and Julie Ellingson family moving cattle on their ranch near St. Anthony, ND.

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Julie Ellingson jumped into her new position as North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President with both boots. The job started simultaneously with the 61st North Dakota legislative session. As the official spokesman for the North Dakota cattle industry, and the organization’s administrator and lead lobbyist, Ellingson’s presence was required at the capitol from the first week in January through the first week in May. Extreme weather and wide-spread disaster concerns put the session in the record book as the longest in state history.

“There were hundreds of bills to comb through,” Ellingson said. “Initially, I had wished that I would have began my new job in a non-legislative year, because it is such a huge project, but, in hindsight, I think it was a blessing to have it in the beginning to learn the process and meet the people.”

Far from starting out cold with the NDSA, Ellingson had 13 years of experience as its communications director. In that role, she served as the association’s public relations official, magazine editor, advertising manager and assistant lobbyist. She sees those years as key to her understanding of the players, events, strategies, and acronyms.

“My years with the magazine taught me a little bit about a lot of different things,” Ellingson commented. “Writing profiles about members was a wonderful way to get acquainted with them. Explaining issues through the stories allowed me to ask questions and learn about the organization. I miss writing the members’ stories, but the deadlines I can do without!”

Writing and editing the NDSA magazine couldn’t substitute for a real working knowledge of the cattle industry. Ellingson’s life outside the office prepared her for that.

Her grandparents, Paul and Magdalena Schaff, started Schaff Angus Ranch. Her parents, Martin and Angie Schaff, continued in the registered Angus business. They gave Ellingson her first cow as a gift for her 13th birthday. She’s been in the cattle business ever since.

Today, Ellingson and husband Chad operate their own ranch near St. Anthony, southwest of Bismarck. Additionally, Chad works in beef sire procurement for Genex Cooperative, Inc. The couple runs 250 head of registered Angus near where she was raised; near where her great-grandparents homesteaded. They raise their own hay and corn silage and sell bulls and select heifers.

And, they’re raising a family. Their five children have grown up with the NDSA as part of their everyday lives: Stetson (11); Jameson (10); Sierra (8); Medora (4); and Sheridan (1). Ellingson is out the door by 7 a.m. so she can be at the office by 8. She depends on Chad to pick up the slack at home with the kids and activities when she is busy with NDSA projects. That mountain of laundry you have, Ellingson says they have a mountain range.

“We go at a pretty busy pace most of the time, but somehow tend to thrive in chaos,” she joked. “We have great helpers in our children. I’m excited to see them taking an active role in our industry. We enjoy raising cattle to feed a hungry world. It is our heritage. We enjoy sharing the experience with our children.”

In considering whether or not the executive position was right for her, her family and the association, Ellingson explained: “I asked myself if I was capable; if my family could support the responsibility. Even before filling out the application, I knew I’d have awful big shoes to fill. Wade was my boss and mentor for 13 years. I had an idea of what he did.”

Wade Moser, under whom Ellingson served as communications director, was NDSA Executive Vice President for 26 years. Stepping down from that capacity at the close of 2008, he’s currently devoting his time to bred-heifer development. Sometimes he stops by his old digs. Sometimes Ellingson asks his advice.

“Wade’s been helpful and supportive during my first year,” Ellingson offered. “Everyone has been. The members have been warm and welcoming. They’ve been my colleagues and friends for years. That’s part of the reason I applied. It’s my pleasure to represent them.”

Ellingson acknowledges the job is not without it challenges. She cites a short list of concerns: low prices, soft consumer demand, export markets, regulations, climate change, animal rights activists and food safety.

“We need to be telling our stories to consumers, legislators, decision makers, and the media,” she said. “We need to convey the message that we are raising a quality product and explain our environmental stewardship practices.

“There are entities weighing in with regulators who do not have the best interest of agriculture at heart. Producers have to stand up, be proud, and explain our story in a proactive way. It’s vital that people get involved in trade organizations and speak out.”

Therein lies one of Ellingson’s goals, increasing membership in the NDSA. Another is preparing producers to be effective industry spokespersons. To accomplish the latter, she touts a program offered through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The on-line Masters of Beef Advocacy Program (MBA) consists of six courses: beef safety, beef nutrition, animal care, environmental stewardship, modern beef production, and the beef checkoff. Graduates become part of a network that can be called upon to talk to the media.

The MBA Program fits in well with another of Ellingson’s goals – involving youth. She’s hopeful that college students and ranch youth will step forward as spokespersons, taking an active role alongside cattlemen and cattlewomen. She notes, “They are the next generation of beef producers.”

At its inception, the mission of the NDSA was to stop cattle rustling. Taking a proactive stance, the association established a state brand inspection program in 1953. To protect livestock from loss and theft, the program is staffed by a chief brand inspector, two field representatives, 40 full-time and part-time market inspectors, and more than 200 local inspectors.

Having identified challenges cattle feeders face complying with feedlot regulations, the NDSA established the Environmental Services Program in 2002. Their environmental services director provides free and confidential technical assistance to feeders. (They need not be NDSA members.) Additionally, some cost share is available for facility enhancements. Ellingson is quick to point out that the program benefits not only beef producers, but the environment as well.

A bright spot on the North Dakota horizon is talk that a South Korean beef processing plant will be built in the state. Ellingson is hopeful it will come to fruition, noting, “The marketing options generated from such a plant would give producers another opportunity to get paid for the quality cattle we raise in this part of the world.”

As 2009 drew to a close, Ellingson wrapped up most of the business from the association’s statewide convention and prepared for the annual audit. There’s no magazine deadline looming large on the calendar, but she has a big task ahead nonetheless: representing North Dakota’s beef producers. She’ll tackle that task with assistance from the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association members, the brand inspectors in the field, her co-workers in the office, and her family.

Reflecting on the journey that finds her behind the desk as the North Dakota Stockmen`s Association Executive Vice President, Ellingson said: “I have to credit my parents, my husband, and my children for helping me. And my ancestors, who had the great sense to come to North Dakota and be beef producers. I am proud to work for the industry.”

Julie Ellingson jumped into her new position as North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President with both boots. The job started simultaneously with the 61st North Dakota legislative session. As the official spokesman for the North Dakota cattle industry, and the organization’s administrator and lead lobbyist, Ellingson’s presence was required at the capitol from the first week in January through the first week in May. Extreme weather and wide-spread disaster concerns put the session in the record book as the longest in state history.

“There were hundreds of bills to comb through,” Ellingson said. “Initially, I had wished that I would have began my new job in a non-legislative year, because it is such a huge project, but, in hindsight, I think it was a blessing to have it in the beginning to learn the process and meet the people.”

Far from starting out cold with the NDSA, Ellingson had 13 years of experience as its communications director. In that role, she served as the association’s public relations official, magazine editor, advertising manager and assistant lobbyist. She sees those years as key to her understanding of the players, events, strategies, and acronyms.

“My years with the magazine taught me a little bit about a lot of different things,” Ellingson commented. “Writing profiles about members was a wonderful way to get acquainted with them. Explaining issues through the stories allowed me to ask questions and learn about the organization. I miss writing the members’ stories, but the deadlines I can do without!”

Writing and editing the NDSA magazine couldn’t substitute for a real working knowledge of the cattle industry. Ellingson’s life outside the office prepared her for that.

Her grandparents, Paul and Magdalena Schaff, started Schaff Angus Ranch. Her parents, Martin and Angie Schaff, continued in the registered Angus business. They gave Ellingson her first cow as a gift for her 13th birthday. She’s been in the cattle business ever since.

Today, Ellingson and husband Chad operate their own ranch near St. Anthony, southwest of Bismarck. Additionally, Chad works in beef sire procurement for Genex Cooperative, Inc. The couple runs 250 head of registered Angus near where she was raised; near where her great-grandparents homesteaded. They raise their own hay and corn silage and sell bulls and select heifers.

And, they’re raising a family. Their five children have grown up with the NDSA as part of their everyday lives: Stetson (11); Jameson (10); Sierra (8); Medora (4); and Sheridan (1). Ellingson is out the door by 7 a.m. so she can be at the office by 8. She depends on Chad to pick up the slack at home with the kids and activities when she is busy with NDSA projects. That mountain of laundry you have, Ellingson says they have a mountain range.

“We go at a pretty busy pace most of the time, but somehow tend to thrive in chaos,” she joked. “We have great helpers in our children. I’m excited to see them taking an active role in our industry. We enjoy raising cattle to feed a hungry world. It is our heritage. We enjoy sharing the experience with our children.”

In considering whether or not the executive position was right for her, her family and the association, Ellingson explained: “I asked myself if I was capable; if my family could support the responsibility. Even before filling out the application, I knew I’d have awful big shoes to fill. Wade was my boss and mentor for 13 years. I had an idea of what he did.”

Wade Moser, under whom Ellingson served as communications director, was NDSA Executive Vice President for 26 years. Stepping down from that capacity at the close of 2008, he’s currently devoting his time to bred-heifer development. Sometimes he stops by his old digs. Sometimes Ellingson asks his advice.

“Wade’s been helpful and supportive during my first year,” Ellingson offered. “Everyone has been. The members have been warm and welcoming. They’ve been my colleagues and friends for years. That’s part of the reason I applied. It’s my pleasure to represent them.”

Ellingson acknowledges the job is not without it challenges. She cites a short list of concerns: low prices, soft consumer demand, export markets, regulations, climate change, animal rights activists and food safety.

“We need to be telling our stories to consumers, legislators, decision makers, and the media,” she said. “We need to convey the message that we are raising a quality product and explain our environmental stewardship practices.

“There are entities weighing in with regulators who do not have the best interest of agriculture at heart. Producers have to stand up, be proud, and explain our story in a proactive way. It’s vital that people get involved in trade organizations and speak out.”

Therein lies one of Ellingson’s goals, increasing membership in the NDSA. Another is preparing producers to be effective industry spokespersons. To accomplish the latter, she touts a program offered through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The on-line Masters of Beef Advocacy Program (MBA) consists of six courses: beef safety, beef nutrition, animal care, environmental stewardship, modern beef production, and the beef checkoff. Graduates become part of a network that can be called upon to talk to the media.

The MBA Program fits in well with another of Ellingson’s goals – involving youth. She’s hopeful that college students and ranch youth will step forward as spokespersons, taking an active role alongside cattlemen and cattlewomen. She notes, “They are the next generation of beef producers.”

At its inception, the mission of the NDSA was to stop cattle rustling. Taking a proactive stance, the association established a state brand inspection program in 1953. To protect livestock from loss and theft, the program is staffed by a chief brand inspector, two field representatives, 40 full-time and part-time market inspectors, and more than 200 local inspectors.

Having identified challenges cattle feeders face complying with feedlot regulations, the NDSA established the Environmental Services Program in 2002. Their environmental services director provides free and confidential technical assistance to feeders. (They need not be NDSA members.) Additionally, some cost share is available for facility enhancements. Ellingson is quick to point out that the program benefits not only beef producers, but the environment as well.

A bright spot on the North Dakota horizon is talk that a South Korean beef processing plant will be built in the state. Ellingson is hopeful it will come to fruition, noting, “The marketing options generated from such a plant would give producers another opportunity to get paid for the quality cattle we raise in this part of the world.”

As 2009 drew to a close, Ellingson wrapped up most of the business from the association’s statewide convention and prepared for the annual audit. There’s no magazine deadline looming large on the calendar, but she has a big task ahead nonetheless: representing North Dakota’s beef producers. She’ll tackle that task with assistance from the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association members, the brand inspectors in the field, her co-workers in the office, and her family.

Reflecting on the journey that finds her behind the desk as the North Dakota Stockmen`s Association Executive Vice President, Ellingson said: “I have to credit my parents, my husband, and my children for helping me. And my ancestors, who had the great sense to come to North Dakota and be beef producers. I am proud to work for the industry.”

Julie Ellingson jumped into her new position as North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President with both boots. The job started simultaneously with the 61st North Dakota legislative session. As the official spokesman for the North Dakota cattle industry, and the organization’s administrator and lead lobbyist, Ellingson’s presence was required at the capitol from the first week in January through the first week in May. Extreme weather and wide-spread disaster concerns put the session in the record book as the longest in state history.

“There were hundreds of bills to comb through,” Ellingson said. “Initially, I had wished that I would have began my new job in a non-legislative year, because it is such a huge project, but, in hindsight, I think it was a blessing to have it in the beginning to learn the process and meet the people.”

Far from starting out cold with the NDSA, Ellingson had 13 years of experience as its communications director. In that role, she served as the association’s public relations official, magazine editor, advertising manager and assistant lobbyist. She sees those years as key to her understanding of the players, events, strategies, and acronyms.

“My years with the magazine taught me a little bit about a lot of different things,” Ellingson commented. “Writing profiles about members was a wonderful way to get acquainted with them. Explaining issues through the stories allowed me to ask questions and learn about the organization. I miss writing the members’ stories, but the deadlines I can do without!”

Writing and editing the NDSA magazine couldn’t substitute for a real working knowledge of the cattle industry. Ellingson’s life outside the office prepared her for that.

Her grandparents, Paul and Magdalena Schaff, started Schaff Angus Ranch. Her parents, Martin and Angie Schaff, continued in the registered Angus business. They gave Ellingson her first cow as a gift for her 13th birthday. She’s been in the cattle business ever since.

Today, Ellingson and husband Chad operate their own ranch near St. Anthony, southwest of Bismarck. Additionally, Chad works in beef sire procurement for Genex Cooperative, Inc. The couple runs 250 head of registered Angus near where she was raised; near where her great-grandparents homesteaded. They raise their own hay and corn silage and sell bulls and select heifers.

And, they’re raising a family. Their five children have grown up with the NDSA as part of their everyday lives: Stetson (11); Jameson (10); Sierra (8); Medora (4); and Sheridan (1). Ellingson is out the door by 7 a.m. so she can be at the office by 8. She depends on Chad to pick up the slack at home with the kids and activities when she is busy with NDSA projects. That mountain of laundry you have, Ellingson says they have a mountain range.

“We go at a pretty busy pace most of the time, but somehow tend to thrive in chaos,” she joked. “We have great helpers in our children. I’m excited to see them taking an active role in our industry. We enjoy raising cattle to feed a hungry world. It is our heritage. We enjoy sharing the experience with our children.”

In considering whether or not the executive position was right for her, her family and the association, Ellingson explained: “I asked myself if I was capable; if my family could support the responsibility. Even before filling out the application, I knew I’d have awful big shoes to fill. Wade was my boss and mentor for 13 years. I had an idea of what he did.”

Wade Moser, under whom Ellingson served as communications director, was NDSA Executive Vice President for 26 years. Stepping down from that capacity at the close of 2008, he’s currently devoting his time to bred-heifer development. Sometimes he stops by his old digs. Sometimes Ellingson asks his advice.

“Wade’s been helpful and supportive during my first year,” Ellingson offered. “Everyone has been. The members have been warm and welcoming. They’ve been my colleagues and friends for years. That’s part of the reason I applied. It’s my pleasure to represent them.”

Ellingson acknowledges the job is not without it challenges. She cites a short list of concerns: low prices, soft consumer demand, export markets, regulations, climate change, animal rights activists and food safety.

“We need to be telling our stories to consumers, legislators, decision makers, and the media,” she said. “We need to convey the message that we are raising a quality product and explain our environmental stewardship practices.

“There are entities weighing in with regulators who do not have the best interest of agriculture at heart. Producers have to stand up, be proud, and explain our story in a proactive way. It’s vital that people get involved in trade organizations and speak out.”

Therein lies one of Ellingson’s goals, increasing membership in the NDSA. Another is preparing producers to be effective industry spokespersons. To accomplish the latter, she touts a program offered through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The on-line Masters of Beef Advocacy Program (MBA) consists of six courses: beef safety, beef nutrition, animal care, environmental stewardship, modern beef production, and the beef checkoff. Graduates become part of a network that can be called upon to talk to the media.

The MBA Program fits in well with another of Ellingson’s goals – involving youth. She’s hopeful that college students and ranch youth will step forward as spokespersons, taking an active role alongside cattlemen and cattlewomen. She notes, “They are the next generation of beef producers.”

At its inception, the mission of the NDSA was to stop cattle rustling. Taking a proactive stance, the association established a state brand inspection program in 1953. To protect livestock from loss and theft, the program is staffed by a chief brand inspector, two field representatives, 40 full-time and part-time market inspectors, and more than 200 local inspectors.

Having identified challenges cattle feeders face complying with feedlot regulations, the NDSA established the Environmental Services Program in 2002. Their environmental services director provides free and confidential technical assistance to feeders. (They need not be NDSA members.) Additionally, some cost share is available for facility enhancements. Ellingson is quick to point out that the program benefits not only beef producers, but the environment as well.

A bright spot on the North Dakota horizon is talk that a South Korean beef processing plant will be built in the state. Ellingson is hopeful it will come to fruition, noting, “The marketing options generated from such a plant would give producers another opportunity to get paid for the quality cattle we raise in this part of the world.”

As 2009 drew to a close, Ellingson wrapped up most of the business from the association’s statewide convention and prepared for the annual audit. There’s no magazine deadline looming large on the calendar, but she has a big task ahead nonetheless: representing North Dakota’s beef producers. She’ll tackle that task with assistance from the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association members, the brand inspectors in the field, her co-workers in the office, and her family.

Reflecting on the journey that finds her behind the desk as the North Dakota Stockmen`s Association Executive Vice President, Ellingson said: “I have to credit my parents, my husband, and my children for helping me. And my ancestors, who had the great sense to come to North Dakota and be beef producers. I am proud to work for the industry.”

Julie Ellingson jumped into her new position as North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President with both boots. The job started simultaneously with the 61st North Dakota legislative session. As the official spokesman for the North Dakota cattle industry, and the organization’s administrator and lead lobbyist, Ellingson’s presence was required at the capitol from the first week in January through the first week in May. Extreme weather and wide-spread disaster concerns put the session in the record book as the longest in state history.

“There were hundreds of bills to comb through,” Ellingson said. “Initially, I had wished that I would have began my new job in a non-legislative year, because it is such a huge project, but, in hindsight, I think it was a blessing to have it in the beginning to learn the process and meet the people.”

Far from starting out cold with the NDSA, Ellingson had 13 years of experience as its communications director. In that role, she served as the association’s public relations official, magazine editor, advertising manager and assistant lobbyist. She sees those years as key to her understanding of the players, events, strategies, and acronyms.

“My years with the magazine taught me a little bit about a lot of different things,” Ellingson commented. “Writing profiles about members was a wonderful way to get acquainted with them. Explaining issues through the stories allowed me to ask questions and learn about the organization. I miss writing the members’ stories, but the deadlines I can do without!”

Writing and editing the NDSA magazine couldn’t substitute for a real working knowledge of the cattle industry. Ellingson’s life outside the office prepared her for that.

Her grandparents, Paul and Magdalena Schaff, started Schaff Angus Ranch. Her parents, Martin and Angie Schaff, continued in the registered Angus business. They gave Ellingson her first cow as a gift for her 13th birthday. She’s been in the cattle business ever since.

Today, Ellingson and husband Chad operate their own ranch near St. Anthony, southwest of Bismarck. Additionally, Chad works in beef sire procurement for Genex Cooperative, Inc. The couple runs 250 head of registered Angus near where she was raised; near where her great-grandparents homesteaded. They raise their own hay and corn silage and sell bulls and select heifers.

And, they’re raising a family. Their five children have grown up with the NDSA as part of their everyday lives: Stetson (11); Jameson (10); Sierra (8); Medora (4); and Sheridan (1). Ellingson is out the door by 7 a.m. so she can be at the office by 8. She depends on Chad to pick up the slack at home with the kids and activities when she is busy with NDSA projects. That mountain of laundry you have, Ellingson says they have a mountain range.

“We go at a pretty busy pace most of the time, but somehow tend to thrive in chaos,” she joked. “We have great helpers in our children. I’m excited to see them taking an active role in our industry. We enjoy raising cattle to feed a hungry world. It is our heritage. We enjoy sharing the experience with our children.”

In considering whether or not the executive position was right for her, her family and the association, Ellingson explained: “I asked myself if I was capable; if my family could support the responsibility. Even before filling out the application, I knew I’d have awful big shoes to fill. Wade was my boss and mentor for 13 years. I had an idea of what he did.”

Wade Moser, under whom Ellingson served as communications director, was NDSA Executive Vice President for 26 years. Stepping down from that capacity at the close of 2008, he’s currently devoting his time to bred-heifer development. Sometimes he stops by his old digs. Sometimes Ellingson asks his advice.

“Wade’s been helpful and supportive during my first year,” Ellingson offered. “Everyone has been. The members have been warm and welcoming. They’ve been my colleagues and friends for years. That’s part of the reason I applied. It’s my pleasure to represent them.”

Ellingson acknowledges the job is not without it challenges. She cites a short list of concerns: low prices, soft consumer demand, export markets, regulations, climate change, animal rights activists and food safety.

“We need to be telling our stories to consumers, legislators, decision makers, and the media,” she said. “We need to convey the message that we are raising a quality product and explain our environmental stewardship practices.

“There are entities weighing in with regulators who do not have the best interest of agriculture at heart. Producers have to stand up, be proud, and explain our story in a proactive way. It’s vital that people get involved in trade organizations and speak out.”

Therein lies one of Ellingson’s goals, increasing membership in the NDSA. Another is preparing producers to be effective industry spokespersons. To accomplish the latter, she touts a program offered through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The on-line Masters of Beef Advocacy Program (MBA) consists of six courses: beef safety, beef nutrition, animal care, environmental stewardship, modern beef production, and the beef checkoff. Graduates become part of a network that can be called upon to talk to the media.

The MBA Program fits in well with another of Ellingson’s goals – involving youth. She’s hopeful that college students and ranch youth will step forward as spokespersons, taking an active role alongside cattlemen and cattlewomen. She notes, “They are the next generation of beef producers.”

At its inception, the mission of the NDSA was to stop cattle rustling. Taking a proactive stance, the association established a state brand inspection program in 1953. To protect livestock from loss and theft, the program is staffed by a chief brand inspector, two field representatives, 40 full-time and part-time market inspectors, and more than 200 local inspectors.

Having identified challenges cattle feeders face complying with feedlot regulations, the NDSA established the Environmental Services Program in 2002. Their environmental services director provides free and confidential technical assistance to feeders. (They need not be NDSA members.) Additionally, some cost share is available for facility enhancements. Ellingson is quick to point out that the program benefits not only beef producers, but the environment as well.

A bright spot on the North Dakota horizon is talk that a South Korean beef processing plant will be built in the state. Ellingson is hopeful it will come to fruition, noting, “The marketing options generated from such a plant would give producers another opportunity to get paid for the quality cattle we raise in this part of the world.”

As 2009 drew to a close, Ellingson wrapped up most of the business from the association’s statewide convention and prepared for the annual audit. There’s no magazine deadline looming large on the calendar, but she has a big task ahead nonetheless: representing North Dakota’s beef producers. She’ll tackle that task with assistance from the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association members, the brand inspectors in the field, her co-workers in the office, and her family.

Reflecting on the journey that finds her behind the desk as the North Dakota Stockmen`s Association Executive Vice President, Ellingson said: “I have to credit my parents, my husband, and my children for helping me. And my ancestors, who had the great sense to come to North Dakota and be beef producers. I am proud to work for the industry.”

Julie Ellingson jumped into her new position as North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President with both boots. The job started simultaneously with the 61st North Dakota legislative session. As the official spokesman for the North Dakota cattle industry, and the organization’s administrator and lead lobbyist, Ellingson’s presence was required at the capitol from the first week in January through the first week in May. Extreme weather and wide-spread disaster concerns put the session in the record book as the longest in state history.

“There were hundreds of bills to comb through,” Ellingson said. “Initially, I had wished that I would have began my new job in a non-legislative year, because it is such a huge project, but, in hindsight, I think it was a blessing to have it in the beginning to learn the process and meet the people.”

Far from starting out cold with the NDSA, Ellingson had 13 years of experience as its communications director. In that role, she served as the association’s public relations official, magazine editor, advertising manager and assistant lobbyist. She sees those years as key to her understanding of the players, events, strategies, and acronyms.

“My years with the magazine taught me a little bit about a lot of different things,” Ellingson commented. “Writing profiles about members was a wonderful way to get acquainted with them. Explaining issues through the stories allowed me to ask questions and learn about the organization. I miss writing the members’ stories, but the deadlines I can do without!”

Writing and editing the NDSA magazine couldn’t substitute for a real working knowledge of the cattle industry. Ellingson’s life outside the office prepared her for that.

Her grandparents, Paul and Magdalena Schaff, started Schaff Angus Ranch. Her parents, Martin and Angie Schaff, continued in the registered Angus business. They gave Ellingson her first cow as a gift for her 13th birthday. She’s been in the cattle business ever since.

Today, Ellingson and husband Chad operate their own ranch near St. Anthony, southwest of Bismarck. Additionally, Chad works in beef sire procurement for Genex Cooperative, Inc. The couple runs 250 head of registered Angus near where she was raised; near where her great-grandparents homesteaded. They raise their own hay and corn silage and sell bulls and select heifers.

And, they’re raising a family. Their five children have grown up with the NDSA as part of their everyday lives: Stetson (11); Jameson (10); Sierra (8); Medora (4); and Sheridan (1). Ellingson is out the door by 7 a.m. so she can be at the office by 8. She depends on Chad to pick up the slack at home with the kids and activities when she is busy with NDSA projects. That mountain of laundry you have, Ellingson says they have a mountain range.

“We go at a pretty busy pace most of the time, but somehow tend to thrive in chaos,” she joked. “We have great helpers in our children. I’m excited to see them taking an active role in our industry. We enjoy raising cattle to feed a hungry world. It is our heritage. We enjoy sharing the experience with our children.”

In considering whether or not the executive position was right for her, her family and the association, Ellingson explained: “I asked myself if I was capable; if my family could support the responsibility. Even before filling out the application, I knew I’d have awful big shoes to fill. Wade was my boss and mentor for 13 years. I had an idea of what he did.”

Wade Moser, under whom Ellingson served as communications director, was NDSA Executive Vice President for 26 years. Stepping down from that capacity at the close of 2008, he’s currently devoting his time to bred-heifer development. Sometimes he stops by his old digs. Sometimes Ellingson asks his advice.

“Wade’s been helpful and supportive during my first year,” Ellingson offered. “Everyone has been. The members have been warm and welcoming. They’ve been my colleagues and friends for years. That’s part of the reason I applied. It’s my pleasure to represent them.”

Ellingson acknowledges the job is not without it challenges. She cites a short list of concerns: low prices, soft consumer demand, export markets, regulations, climate change, animal rights activists and food safety.

“We need to be telling our stories to consumers, legislators, decision makers, and the media,” she said. “We need to convey the message that we are raising a quality product and explain our environmental stewardship practices.

“There are entities weighing in with regulators who do not have the best interest of agriculture at heart. Producers have to stand up, be proud, and explain our story in a proactive way. It’s vital that people get involved in trade organizations and speak out.”

Therein lies one of Ellingson’s goals, increasing membership in the NDSA. Another is preparing producers to be effective industry spokespersons. To accomplish the latter, she touts a program offered through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The on-line Masters of Beef Advocacy Program (MBA) consists of six courses: beef safety, beef nutrition, animal care, environmental stewardship, modern beef production, and the beef checkoff. Graduates become part of a network that can be called upon to talk to the media.

The MBA Program fits in well with another of Ellingson’s goals – involving youth. She’s hopeful that college students and ranch youth will step forward as spokespersons, taking an active role alongside cattlemen and cattlewomen. She notes, “They are the next generation of beef producers.”

At its inception, the mission of the NDSA was to stop cattle rustling. Taking a proactive stance, the association established a state brand inspection program in 1953. To protect livestock from loss and theft, the program is staffed by a chief brand inspector, two field representatives, 40 full-time and part-time market inspectors, and more than 200 local inspectors.

Having identified challenges cattle feeders face complying with feedlot regulations, the NDSA established the Environmental Services Program in 2002. Their environmental services director provides free and confidential technical assistance to feeders. (They need not be NDSA members.) Additionally, some cost share is available for facility enhancements. Ellingson is quick to point out that the program benefits not only beef producers, but the environment as well.

A bright spot on the North Dakota horizon is talk that a South Korean beef processing plant will be built in the state. Ellingson is hopeful it will come to fruition, noting, “The marketing options generated from such a plant would give producers another opportunity to get paid for the quality cattle we raise in this part of the world.”

As 2009 drew to a close, Ellingson wrapped up most of the business from the association’s statewide convention and prepared for the annual audit. There’s no magazine deadline looming large on the calendar, but she has a big task ahead nonetheless: representing North Dakota’s beef producers. She’ll tackle that task with assistance from the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association members, the brand inspectors in the field, her co-workers in the office, and her family.

Reflecting on the journey that finds her behind the desk as the North Dakota Stockmen`s Association Executive Vice President, Ellingson said: “I have to credit my parents, my husband, and my children for helping me. And my ancestors, who had the great sense to come to North Dakota and be beef producers. I am proud to work for the industry.”

Julie Ellingson jumped into her new position as North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President with both boots. The job started simultaneously with the 61st North Dakota legislative session. As the official spokesman for the North Dakota cattle industry, and the organization’s administrator and lead lobbyist, Ellingson’s presence was required at the capitol from the first week in January through the first week in May. Extreme weather and wide-spread disaster concerns put the session in the record book as the longest in state history.

“There were hundreds of bills to comb through,” Ellingson said. “Initially, I had wished that I would have began my new job in a non-legislative year, because it is such a huge project, but, in hindsight, I think it was a blessing to have it in the beginning to learn the process and meet the people.”

Far from starting out cold with the NDSA, Ellingson had 13 years of experience as its communications director. In that role, she served as the association’s public relations official, magazine editor, advertising manager and assistant lobbyist. She sees those years as key to her understanding of the players, events, strategies, and acronyms.

“My years with the magazine taught me a little bit about a lot of different things,” Ellingson commented. “Writing profiles about members was a wonderful way to get acquainted with them. Explaining issues through the stories allowed me to ask questions and learn about the organization. I miss writing the members’ stories, but the deadlines I can do without!”

Writing and editing the NDSA magazine couldn’t substitute for a real working knowledge of the cattle industry. Ellingson’s life outside the office prepared her for that.

Her grandparents, Paul and Magdalena Schaff, started Schaff Angus Ranch. Her parents, Martin and Angie Schaff, continued in the registered Angus business. They gave Ellingson her first cow as a gift for her 13th birthday. She’s been in the cattle business ever since.

Today, Ellingson and husband Chad operate their own ranch near St. Anthony, southwest of Bismarck. Additionally, Chad works in beef sire procurement for Genex Cooperative, Inc. The couple runs 250 head of registered Angus near where she was raised; near where her great-grandparents homesteaded. They raise their own hay and corn silage and sell bulls and select heifers.

And, they’re raising a family. Their five children have grown up with the NDSA as part of their everyday lives: Stetson (11); Jameson (10); Sierra (8); Medora (4); and Sheridan (1). Ellingson is out the door by 7 a.m. so she can be at the office by 8. She depends on Chad to pick up the slack at home with the kids and activities when she is busy with NDSA projects. That mountain of laundry you have, Ellingson says they have a mountain range.

“We go at a pretty busy pace most of the time, but somehow tend to thrive in chaos,” she joked. “We have great helpers in our children. I’m excited to see them taking an active role in our industry. We enjoy raising cattle to feed a hungry world. It is our heritage. We enjoy sharing the experience with our children.”

In considering whether or not the executive position was right for her, her family and the association, Ellingson explained: “I asked myself if I was capable; if my family could support the responsibility. Even before filling out the application, I knew I’d have awful big shoes to fill. Wade was my boss and mentor for 13 years. I had an idea of what he did.”

Wade Moser, under whom Ellingson served as communications director, was NDSA Executive Vice President for 26 years. Stepping down from that capacity at the close of 2008, he’s currently devoting his time to bred-heifer development. Sometimes he stops by his old digs. Sometimes Ellingson asks his advice.

“Wade’s been helpful and supportive during my first year,” Ellingson offered. “Everyone has been. The members have been warm and welcoming. They’ve been my colleagues and friends for years. That’s part of the reason I applied. It’s my pleasure to represent them.”

Ellingson acknowledges the job is not without it challenges. She cites a short list of concerns: low prices, soft consumer demand, export markets, regulations, climate change, animal rights activists and food safety.

“We need to be telling our stories to consumers, legislators, decision makers, and the media,” she said. “We need to convey the message that we are raising a quality product and explain our environmental stewardship practices.

“There are entities weighing in with regulators who do not have the best interest of agriculture at heart. Producers have to stand up, be proud, and explain our story in a proactive way. It’s vital that people get involved in trade organizations and speak out.”

Therein lies one of Ellingson’s goals, increasing membership in the NDSA. Another is preparing producers to be effective industry spokespersons. To accomplish the latter, she touts a program offered through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The on-line Masters of Beef Advocacy Program (MBA) consists of six courses: beef safety, beef nutrition, animal care, environmental stewardship, modern beef production, and the beef checkoff. Graduates become part of a network that can be called upon to talk to the media.

The MBA Program fits in well with another of Ellingson’s goals – involving youth. She’s hopeful that college students and ranch youth will step forward as spokespersons, taking an active role alongside cattlemen and cattlewomen. She notes, “They are the next generation of beef producers.”

At its inception, the mission of the NDSA was to stop cattle rustling. Taking a proactive stance, the association established a state brand inspection program in 1953. To protect livestock from loss and theft, the program is staffed by a chief brand inspector, two field representatives, 40 full-time and part-time market inspectors, and more than 200 local inspectors.

Having identified challenges cattle feeders face complying with feedlot regulations, the NDSA established the Environmental Services Program in 2002. Their environmental services director provides free and confidential technical assistance to feeders. (They need not be NDSA members.) Additionally, some cost share is available for facility enhancements. Ellingson is quick to point out that the program benefits not only beef producers, but the environment as well.

A bright spot on the North Dakota horizon is talk that a South Korean beef processing plant will be built in the state. Ellingson is hopeful it will come to fruition, noting, “The marketing options generated from such a plant would give producers another opportunity to get paid for the quality cattle we raise in this part of the world.”

As 2009 drew to a close, Ellingson wrapped up most of the business from the association’s statewide convention and prepared for the annual audit. There’s no magazine deadline looming large on the calendar, but she has a big task ahead nonetheless: representing North Dakota’s beef producers. She’ll tackle that task with assistance from the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association members, the brand inspectors in the field, her co-workers in the office, and her family.

Reflecting on the journey that finds her behind the desk as the North Dakota Stockmen`s Association Executive Vice President, Ellingson said: “I have to credit my parents, my husband, and my children for helping me. And my ancestors, who had the great sense to come to North Dakota and be beef producers. I am proud to work for the industry.”

Julie Ellingson jumped into her new position as North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President with both boots. The job started simultaneously with the 61st North Dakota legislative session. As the official spokesman for the North Dakota cattle industry, and the organization’s administrator and lead lobbyist, Ellingson’s presence was required at the capitol from the first week in January through the first week in May. Extreme weather and wide-spread disaster concerns put the session in the record book as the longest in state history.

“There were hundreds of bills to comb through,” Ellingson said. “Initially, I had wished that I would have began my new job in a non-legislative year, because it is such a huge project, but, in hindsight, I think it was a blessing to have it in the beginning to learn the process and meet the people.”

Far from starting out cold with the NDSA, Ellingson had 13 years of experience as its communications director. In that role, she served as the association’s public relations official, magazine editor, advertising manager and assistant lobbyist. She sees those years as key to her understanding of the players, events, strategies, and acronyms.

“My years with the magazine taught me a little bit about a lot of different things,” Ellingson commented. “Writing profiles about members was a wonderful way to get acquainted with them. Explaining issues through the stories allowed me to ask questions and learn about the organization. I miss writing the members’ stories, but the deadlines I can do without!”

Writing and editing the NDSA magazine couldn’t substitute for a real working knowledge of the cattle industry. Ellingson’s life outside the office prepared her for that.

Her grandparents, Paul and Magdalena Schaff, started Schaff Angus Ranch. Her parents, Martin and Angie Schaff, continued in the registered Angus business. They gave Ellingson her first cow as a gift for her 13th birthday. She’s been in the cattle business ever since.

Today, Ellingson and husband Chad operate their own ranch near St. Anthony, southwest of Bismarck. Additionally, Chad works in beef sire procurement for Genex Cooperative, Inc. The couple runs 250 head of registered Angus near where she was raised; near where her great-grandparents homesteaded. They raise their own hay and corn silage and sell bulls and select heifers.

And, they’re raising a family. Their five children have grown up with the NDSA as part of their everyday lives: Stetson (11); Jameson (10); Sierra (8); Medora (4); and Sheridan (1). Ellingson is out the door by 7 a.m. so she can be at the office by 8. She depends on Chad to pick up the slack at home with the kids and activities when she is busy with NDSA projects. That mountain of laundry you have, Ellingson says they have a mountain range.

“We go at a pretty busy pace most of the time, but somehow tend to thrive in chaos,” she joked. “We have great helpers in our children. I’m excited to see them taking an active role in our industry. We enjoy raising cattle to feed a hungry world. It is our heritage. We enjoy sharing the experience with our children.”

In considering whether or not the executive position was right for her, her family and the association, Ellingson explained: “I asked myself if I was capable; if my family could support the responsibility. Even before filling out the application, I knew I’d have awful big shoes to fill. Wade was my boss and mentor for 13 years. I had an idea of what he did.”

Wade Moser, under whom Ellingson served as communications director, was NDSA Executive Vice President for 26 years. Stepping down from that capacity at the close of 2008, he’s currently devoting his time to bred-heifer development. Sometimes he stops by his old digs. Sometimes Ellingson asks his advice.

“Wade’s been helpful and supportive during my first year,” Ellingson offered. “Everyone has been. The members have been warm and welcoming. They’ve been my colleagues and friends for years. That’s part of the reason I applied. It’s my pleasure to represent them.”

Ellingson acknowledges the job is not without it challenges. She cites a short list of concerns: low prices, soft consumer demand, export markets, regulations, climate change, animal rights activists and food safety.

“We need to be telling our stories to consumers, legislators, decision makers, and the media,” she said. “We need to convey the message that we are raising a quality product and explain our environmental stewardship practices.

“There are entities weighing in with regulators who do not have the best interest of agriculture at heart. Producers have to stand up, be proud, and explain our story in a proactive way. It’s vital that people get involved in trade organizations and speak out.”

Therein lies one of Ellingson’s goals, increasing membership in the NDSA. Another is preparing producers to be effective industry spokespersons. To accomplish the latter, she touts a program offered through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The on-line Masters of Beef Advocacy Program (MBA) consists of six courses: beef safety, beef nutrition, animal care, environmental stewardship, modern beef production, and the beef checkoff. Graduates become part of a network that can be called upon to talk to the media.

The MBA Program fits in well with another of Ellingson’s goals – involving youth. She’s hopeful that college students and ranch youth will step forward as spokespersons, taking an active role alongside cattlemen and cattlewomen. She notes, “They are the next generation of beef producers.”

At its inception, the mission of the NDSA was to stop cattle rustling. Taking a proactive stance, the association established a state brand inspection program in 1953. To protect livestock from loss and theft, the program is staffed by a chief brand inspector, two field representatives, 40 full-time and part-time market inspectors, and more than 200 local inspectors.

Having identified challenges cattle feeders face complying with feedlot regulations, the NDSA established the Environmental Services Program in 2002. Their environmental services director provides free and confidential technical assistance to feeders. (They need not be NDSA members.) Additionally, some cost share is available for facility enhancements. Ellingson is quick to point out that the program benefits not only beef producers, but the environment as well.

A bright spot on the North Dakota horizon is talk that a South Korean beef processing plant will be built in the state. Ellingson is hopeful it will come to fruition, noting, “The marketing options generated from such a plant would give producers another opportunity to get paid for the quality cattle we raise in this part of the world.”

As 2009 drew to a close, Ellingson wrapped up most of the business from the association’s statewide convention and prepared for the annual audit. There’s no magazine deadline looming large on the calendar, but she has a big task ahead nonetheless: representing North Dakota’s beef producers. She’ll tackle that task with assistance from the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association members, the brand inspectors in the field, her co-workers in the office, and her family.

Reflecting on the journey that finds her behind the desk as the North Dakota Stockmen`s Association Executive Vice President, Ellingson said: “I have to credit my parents, my husband, and my children for helping me. And my ancestors, who had the great sense to come to North Dakota and be beef producers. I am proud to work for the industry.”


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