Tag: ranching

Member Q&A: Keith Nantz of Dillon Land and Cattle Co.

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1) How did you get involved with the Adopt a Farmer program?

I got involved with the Adopt a Farmer program during the 2013-2014 school year. It actually started through the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and other groups that partnered together for the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” assembly at Yamhill-Carlton Middle School last year. I was one of the speakers, and one thing led to another and I had the school out for a field trip. It was really fun to be involved with.

2) What was your first impression of the program and how has that evolved?

The biggest thing I got out of it was the ability to tie into what they were learning in school and apply that to real life. I’m an avid reader, but applying it to real life is big. Being able to tie agriculture to economics and the business side is important. . I’ve talked about cows, nutrition and diet with my current class, and that led back to math and biology. It was perfect, you could really see the proverbial light bulb go off.

3) Who have you been paired with and what has it been like?

I was paired with Yamhill-Carlton Intermediate School in Yamhill last year, and this year I was paired with Harvey Scott School in Northeast Portland. Coming to a ranch was different than what they’d seen. There’s a disconnect from the east side of the state to the west. For those in an urban environment, to come to where the closest neighbor is a mile away, that’s pretty daunting for them. Their demographic is very, very urban and most haven’t been out of the city before so that’s been a big change. Also they have no basis (for agriculture), whereas some at Yamhill-Carlton did. Yamhill-Carlton is closer to ag even though they’re still relatively urban. My Northeast Portland class has asked lots of questions, and I’ve been involved with them in a different way. It’s fun to have that interaction.

4) When did you know you wanted to keep participating?

There was an ‘aha’ moment on the field trip last year. I was talking to the kids about the cow in the chute, and talking about its nutrition and diet, and one kid says ‘we’ve been talking about that in my math and biology class.’ That intrigued me so much, you could see them putting the puzzle pieces together. That’s when I saw it was making an impact.

5) How has your second year been different than your first year?

It’s a different audience. With Yamhill-Carlton Intermediate School, some had exposure to agriculture and some didn’t. This year’s class, Harvey Scott School, they are very, very removed from it and questions from them are quite a bit different than ones from Yamhill-Carlton. It’s also been more one-on-one with this teacher. Carlos brings a lot of excitement to the program, and that’s been a lot of fun for me as well. He seems to be more engaged and it’s been a very fun process.

6) How important is it to educate others about Oregon agriculture and how has this program helped?

The education piece is pivotal, I think that’s the one piece we’re lacking in this industry. Especially with this age group, because they’re vulnerable and open to ideas. It’s absolutely vital to show where our food comes from, and that as agriculturists we’re the first environmentalists. If we don’t sustain our land, we go out of business. Telling our story is the education piece and, since we’re busy 24/7 and 365 days a year, this program opens that door. It’s a forum to allow that process to happen, instead of someone like me having to design and put it together. It’s a platform we have built and continue to grow, and that is absolutely incredible and very crucial from the producer side, and it’s very, very important.

7) Where have you seen the most growth in attitudes and impressions of Oregon agriculture?

With Oregon cattlemen’s associations. Cattle are now the number one agricultural impact, and there are a lot of gaps. We need to educate the public, we need to be involved more and by doing that it has been very rewarding. With programs like the Adopt a Farmer program, we have started to see more forward progress.

8) What has been the most rewarding aspect of participating in this program?

I think sharing information with the kids has been the most rewarding. Listening to the kids and forming an answer they’ll understand has been very challenging but very fun. I enjoy the one-on-one conversations and opening their eyes to a whole different world.

9) What impact do you hope these relationships will have on the future?

The biggest impact I’d like to see is on the political side. For our society to see how important agriculture is, so that they’ll dig deeper and help us produce more quality food for our society.

One of the biggest things is the education piece. Ag is very labor intensive and we don’t have a lot of time, so then we find ourselves battling politicians who are making laws who don’t understand the importance of what we do and how we do it. Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now when kids become voters, hopefully they’ll understand how important agriculture is and how they can continue to have cheap food that’s sustainable across the board. Most are four, five, and six generations removed, and don’t understand the basis of that reality. It’s not an overnight thing, but it can happen in the long run.

10) Would you recommend this program? Why?

I absolutely recommend this to all Ag producers from all commodities. With the generational gap and the importance of education, there’s a huge gap between where food comes from and how it’s raised. It’s about being transparent and showing the world we’re doing things right. This program gives us a platform to share our story that isn’t always available. It’s very important to jump in and be involved.

 

Keith Nantz: For the Greater Good

The phrase “actions speak louder than words” is one that rings true for Central Oregon rancher Keith Nantz. Actively involved in several organizations, his commitment speaks volumes about who he is as a person. As does a saying Nantz looks at every day, which is posted on his wall. “There’s a quote by Zigg Ziglar that goes ‘You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want,’” says Nantz. A phrase that, for Nantz, goes hand in hand with his belief that his biggest purpose, and everyone’s purpose, should be to help other people. With this motivation, Nantz gives back in a variety of ways.

He is chairman of the National Young Cattlemen’s Conference and the National Young Beef Leaders Committee, president of the North Central Livestock Association, an executive board member for Outdoor Adventures with Military Heroes, and has participated in ABC’s Adopt a Farmer program for two years. Nantz also finished his term as the state Young Cattlemen’s Committee chairman at the end of March. In each position, he is leaving his mark and gaining a lot in return.

One of the most meaningful appointments for Nantz has been his position as chairman of the National Young Cattlemen’s Conference. Earlier this year, he spent nine days touring the nation’s beef industry with peers he had just met. “That’s the biggest thing that really struck home with me,” says Nantz, “I started that tour not knowing anybody, and by the end you become good friends.” As tradition goes, at the end of this annual conference the group selects a chairman to lead them and that person is given the Max Deets Leadership Award. For Nantz, who was selected for his outstanding leadership in the cattle industry, winning this honor was “very daunting, rewarding and humbling.”

An experience that’s similar to his involvement with Outdoor Adventures for Military Heroes, a local nonprofit that serves U.S. combat veterans. As the name suggests, the group takes these veterans on outdoor excursions within the state of Oregon. Retreats that are often therapeutic and always rewarding, especially for Nantz. “I’m a huge patriot, and giving back to veterans is hands-down the biggest reward that I’ve had,” says Nantz, “we take them fishing and hunting and seeing what it does for them is indescribable.”FullSizeRender

Impact is very important to Nantz, who has also been part of ABC’s Adopt a Farmer program over the past two years. Last year he was paired with Yamhill-Carlton Intermediate School in Yamhill, and this year he was paired with Harvey Scott School in Northeast Portland. For Nantz, engaging kids in where their food and fiber come from has been very fulfilling. “I really, really enjoy the interactions I have with the kids, especially those who have had little interaction with food production,” Nantz says. In particular he enjoys hearing their questions, because it gives him a good sense of where they’re at and how to interact with them more. It also helps Nantz prepare for field trips, especially those with his class at Harvey Scott School. “I can guarantee one or none of them have seen a cow and to see their excitement, it invigorates me and gets me excited to share with them,” says Nantz.

These, and all of his other leadership positions, are ones that he attributes to skills developed in 4H and FFA participation growing up. “I was very involved with 4H and FFA, that’s probably where I got the biggest start or passion,” says Nantz. Participation in 4H and FFA overlapped for Nantz, who started 4H in fourth grade and added FFA at the start of his freshman year of high school. After graduation, he went on to become state FFA vice president.

While 4H and FFA were big in guiding Nantz toward leadership roles, they also served as starting points for his interest in agriculture and ranching. After high school he spent two years at Eastern Oregon University, followed by four years fighting fires full time with the U.S. Forest Service. During this time, his interest in agriculture never waned. In fact, it grew. While with the U.S. Forest Service, Nantz helped friends raise cattle and run their feedlot. It was then that he began to put a plan in place for what he really wanted to do, raise cattle.

IMG_0939“I’ve wanted that since I was very young, I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy I guess,” says Nantz.

His last year of fighting fires was 2005, and then Nantz got involved with Young Farmers and Ranchers and the USDA’s FSA program. The latter allowed him to buy a few cows and lease some land, and the rest took off from there. “In 2008, John Dillon came to the ranch I was working at, and through several conversations we decided to start a partnership. He had some land and I had some cows,” says Nantz. Today, they run about a hundred cows and raise hay at Dillon Land and Cattle Co. in Dufur, Ore.

Being a first generation rancher is a unique position to be in, but it’s allowed Nantz to give even more to the industry he loves. “To start from scratch, it’s been very, very interesting and challenging at times but a blessing,” says Nantz, “I don’t have a mentor or anyone I can call and talk to. I try to be progressive.” Through these efforts, he’s helped Dillon Land & Cattle Co. start a management intensive grazing program that allows grass and forage to come back, promotes more photosynthetic activity, helps the soil and helps the calves gain better. Nantz is also working on a program that would trace beef all the way through to retail cuts, via a barcode generated from a computer chip placed into an EID tag. The goal is to have the consumer scan the barcode and be able to learn how and why they raise cattle, and then learn more.

All efforts that spring from how Nantz lives his life, driven by a genuine desire to help other people and continually inspired by his favorite Zigg Ziglar quote. For Nantz, the effects of his actions are his greatest reward. “Seeing someone accomplish their goals and be successful, and knowing I’ve been even a little part of that is very rewarding for me,” says Nantz. It’s an attitude that keeps him striving to make a positive difference in the lives of others. An attitude, and a way of life, that is forever dedicated to the greater good.

 

Member Q&A: Myron Miles of Miles Ranch

myron miles head shot

1) What do you do?

Everything. We have a ranch that’s right up against North Powder, and we have 1,400 acres in two separate places. At Miles Ranch we run a little over 200 cows, a cow/calf operation. We also grow corn silage and premium alfalfa hay. On the side my son and I have an artificial insemination business, and we breed 3,000 cows a year for other people. We conduct 8,000-12,000 pregnancy examinations in the fall, because you can’t keep an un-pregnant cow through the winter. Continue reading

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