Every organization must have a changing of the guard. In the best of organizations, it happens slowly and with great care. The old lions must be allowed to continue to share their decades of invaluable experience while the young bucks bring that sense of reinvigoration created by new faces and ideas. How that hand-off from one generation to the next is made is they key to future growth.
The Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB) is managing the transition well, boasting a thoroughbred management stable filled with legends and soon-to-be legends of the cattle business which has also been well-stocked with some of the top up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow.
One of the newbies is Ryan Miller, a relative youngster compared to many of the grizzled vets of the business, he's a Kentucky beef farmer balancing two satisfying careers. He's a part-time cow/calf producer raising just 65 or 70 cows near Campbellsville, Ky., while working full-time for GeneticsPlus in the central and south central part of the state.
"It pays the bills," he said, "and it keeps me out from behind a desk. I work part-time on the farm with my dad, who is also a part-timer here. He drives a feed truck for a feed company."
"We have about 120 acres on the home place and we lease another 120 acres," he said as he described the size of the farm. "A neighbor row crops about 20 acres, we stay with cattle."
The place was bought by his dad just two days before he was born so they've worked it together almost since his birth. A third generation might be waiting, too, a set of triplets, Landon, Lacey and Lilly. The treasured memories Miller has of growing up with his dad and grandfather are what he wants to hand off to them.
"They're just seven years old," he said when I asked them if they were going to take over some time in the future. "Lacey is my diva, a gymnast and a cheerleader. Lilly seems to be interested and Landon is a typical boy who enjoys farm life."
Like every CBB member, Miller has spent a lot of time volunteering with cattle organizations. In high school, he was active in FFA and stayed with the pursuit when he earned his degree in agriculture from Western Kentucky University. A past president of the Warren Country Cattlemen's Association, he was also involved with the Kentucky Cattlemen's Association for about 10 years.
"When I was first asked if I would be interested in being nominated for the Board, I said no. I didn't think I knew enough about it to be an asset. I was asked again and I thought, OK, if it was meant to be, it was meant to be. I was nominated and my first meeting was this summer."
"It was an eye-opening experience," he said. "I didn't realize it was that big or the members worked so hard to get things done. The people I got to meet were fantastic, it was an overwhelming experience."
Appointed to the Global Export Committee, he's working hard to learn as much about it as possible. "I'm the youngest in the group at 37 but the older members were very open, a quality group of men and women who made me glad to be part of it."
Talking about what he wants to accomplish with his CBB membership, he said, "I'll get my feet wet the first year, learn as much as I can, then wrap my arms around it and go with it."