If you graduated from Kansas State and you’re fanatic about it, people say you bleed purple. I went to Michigan State and I bleed green during basketball season. Let’s not talk about their football team. Daren Williams has a PhD. from Cattle College and he bleeds beef.
Williams travels all over God’s country – that would be anyplace that’s not New York or Los Angeles – preaching the gospel according to Angus and Hereford and Braunvieh and Charolais and all the other beef breeds. He’s at home in cattle country, talking up the nutritional value of beef. Scratch that – he talks taste first, then nutrition. He eats beef, sleeps beef and breathes beef.
Yeah, he’s the Ambassador of Beef and he’s very good at his profession. The only problem is he lives on trains and planes and automobiles and sleeps in enough hotel rooms that he should get a stack of free room passes at Holiday Inn Express in Topeka. Getting him to hold still for an interview is a problem. When I tried to contact him Thursday afternoon, I got an emailed reply. ”I’m driving across Nebraska.”
Well, as soon as he got to the other side of the Cornhusker state and found a spot with decent coverage, we got it all done. Here’s what Williams had to say for himself.
Q. Let's start by talking about what you do for a living. When you're not on a plane and actually have a few minutes to sit face-to-face with people, what do you want to accomplish?
A. My profession is communication. My passion is agriculture. I am fortunate to have been able to connect the two throughout my career, especially in my position as executive director of communications at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. I do spend a lot of time on airplanes and hotel rooms in places like Hays, Kansas (my home state), Sidney, Montana (when Great Lakes decides to fly) and Kearney, Nebraska (where I am today).
I travel to these final frontiers of common sense in America to meet face-to-face with farmers and ranchers to discuss the questions and concerns on the minds of urban consumers and how we can help answer them. I learned early in my career setting up phone banks in New Hampshire on Bob Dole’s 1988 presidential campaign that one person can only do so much, but if you empower and equip a grassroots network of thousands, you can make a difference. That is what I want to accomplish…building a grassroots network of farmers and ranchers who will make a difference for beef.