Stacy McClintock operates a cow-calf herd in the spectacular Flint Hills region of Kansas. Her ranch is located just south of Soldier, a very small town about half an hour North and a little West of Topeka.

“We help background around 1,400-1,600 head from Texas and keep close to 100 momma cows on hand,” McClintock said.

She was born into the farming and ranching business, getting her start on a family farm that goes back at least three generations.

“I’ve had animals around me all my life,” she told me.  “It’s something you have to have a passion for. If you don’t love it, you won’t do it because it is many thankless hours.”

It’s gladly doing those late-night, break-of-dawn chores that really prove a passion for the lifestyle.

“Most people don’t see the things we do, like calving at 2:00 a.m. in the middle of winter and then bringing the baby calf in the house and putting him by the fireplace to keep him warm,” she said.

Stacy shares a trait with most other Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) members:  she’s a person who likes to keep busy on and off the ranch.  She started working at a bank at the age of 18, and, for the last six years, has been in the Information Technology/Operations department at Morrill & Janes Bank.  Using what she learned there and on the ranch, she also ran a western wear store for 8 years.  She sold the store to spend more time with her daughter when she was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic at age 11.

Adding to her duties on the ranch and at the bank, McClintock spends a lot of time volunteering to do the work of the cattle industry. She served as president and vice president of the Jackson County Livestock Association. She’s also a board member of the Jackson County Farm Bureau, the Kansas Cattlemen's Association, the American National CattleWomen and the Kansas Livestock Association.

She likes to talk with people about the industry, expressing amazement at how much people don’t know, even in the Holton area, a town devoted mostly to the cattle business.

“Not too long ago I was in town and a girl asked me about cattle.  I spent some time talking with her and answering her questions.  Telling people what we do is important to our future.”

Her nomination to CBB was a surprise, although given her volunteer work with local organizations, it shouldn’t have been.

“Some friends called and asked if it was okay to put my name up, so I said sure.”

Soon afterwards, USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack appointed her to the position, just one of six people from Kansas who serve on the Board.

“I didn’t know what an honor it was until after I was appointed and found out what truly amazing things these people do,” she said.  “I was surprised at how hard they work on health, nutrition, animal welfare and a lot of other issues.”

Originally a member of the retail committee, McClintock now serves on the nutrition and health committee as a result of the restructuring that took place late last year.  The new format, first discussed by CBB CEO Polly Ruhland in Tampa, streamlines the CBB’s business and makes its work a lot more accessible and efficient.

“The new committees will give us all a chance to know more about the Board’s activities.  We’ll have a broader spectrum of knowledge,” she said.  “The Tampa Convention went really well.  We got along perfectly and made a lot of progress.  It was a pleasure working with so many people who truly love this industry.”

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Chuck Jolley, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.