Each completes similar-but-different year of outreach
Baldwin township – Siblings Montana and Wyatt Lawrence both recently completed a year as public-greeting ambassadors and advocates of the Hereford cattle breed. They, along with dad Bryan, mom Marytina and other siblings Wade and Wynn, operate the family Hereford and sod farms in Baldwin Township.
About a year ago, Montana was crowned the Minnesota Hereford Queen and Wyatt received official word that he would be awarded a heifer to start his own herd through the Minnesota Youth Beef Experience Program. She is in her sophomore year of college at the University of Minnesota, Morris, and he is a student at Princeton High School.
Poised under the crown
Montana said she’s always known she enjoys life on the farm and in the barn and never thought when she filled out an application for the Hereford queen position that she would end up as the state queen and then as runner-up for the national Hereford queen title.
Last year judges chose her application and letters of reference from among those submitted, and Montana had prepared with a beef-advocacy course that results in a certification. She didn’t know what to expect from a year of being a Hereford breed and industry ambassador but enjoyed the experience and says it piqued her interest in the business, scientific and political sides of beef-cattle farming.
As the Minnesota Hereford Queen, Montana was expected to serve at shows, handing out ribbons, taking pictures, talking to people and answering questions. The person is a representative of the breed and serves in many capacities but mainly and generally agriculture education.
She spoke at a few different dinners throughout her reign and attended many shows, doing things like thanking the farmers who support and make the Hereford breed possible. Montana said the most fun part was making friends with little girls and sharing information with people of all ages. Her Hereford Queen duties took her to several places in Minnesota as well as to Wisconsin and to Kansas City for the American Royal Show, where the national queen was crowned.
“The coolest part of that (shows) is you get to see all the cattle,” she said.
Everyone in the family nods in agreement when she says there isn’t a bad animal in the building at such events as the Junior National Hereford Expo, which was in Madison, Wisconsin, for 2016 but changes locations each year. They said it’s a treat to see the level of excellence in beef from all over the country as quality and purity of breed show in class after class of “beautiful animals.” The most recent junior national show included about 1,400 head of cattle, about 77 of them from Minnesota.
Montana met 17 other queens at the junior national expo and several more at the national queen competition. She made new friends there and at a meeting of the National Hereford Women. She took pride in speaking at a banquet honoring farm families with awards for 50 and 100 years.
She said she enjoyed sharing her knowledge during interviews and questions because she likes meeting and talking to people. Generally, the goals of the queen are to remains poised at all times and to engage people, make a good impression and supply quality information.
Making rounds with a heifer
Wyatt received CeCe the Hereford heifer about a year ago through the Minnesota Youth Beef Experience Program and became responsible for her everything – feeding, growth, development, training, showing, breeding and all other care, as well as documentation of it all for the first year. At the end of the year, judges selected him from among the 12 young heifer recipients as the program’s overall achievement award winner.
“One of the biggest things I worked on with CeCe was outreach,” he said, showing a well-documented scrapbook and pointing to the Facebook page CeCe’s journey.
Among the most important tasks is a breeding plan for the heifer and among the most exciting aspects of the year, says Wyatt, is that CeCe is pregnant and expected to calve in March. He expertly explains how a breeding plan basically involves the strategic selection of a sire based on characteristics that match CeCe well and statistically increase her chances for an easy first birth.
Wyatt has visited the farm of his mentors and he attended a bull sale. He showed CeCe many places including the Mille Lacs County Fair and Anoka County Fair, where his dad and grandpa have shown.
The young farmer won multiple awards in 2016, among them the senior-champion showman at the Mille Lacs County Fair and CeCe’s supreme champion title at the Anoka County Fair. Others included a peer-selected herdsmen honor and award of beef premium breeder. Wyatt and CeCe traveled to the state fair and did some presentations about the Minnesota Youth Beef Experience program.
He said, “She’s just continued to get better and better.”
He tracked the animal’s food and growth, took pictures, recorded expenses and submitted quarterly reports to the program. They also had various tests run on CeCe to measure progress, and he thinks she’s grown more than he has in the year.
Wyatt enjoys sharing information about agriculture and all the opportunities it has for everyone, and he likes being able to dispel misconceptions about “ag.” He did a how-to speech in English class on CeCe’s grooming, called “fitting,” for shows. He has also grown more interested in the politics of agriculture but said his favorite part of the outreach year has been talking about CeCe.
He serves on the board of directors for the junior Hereford Association and also had official roles at the 2016 national show. One of the things Wyatt likes about it is how at night they walk all the animals outside for exercise and fresh air, so the space fills with cattle as far as the eye can see.
Sights like those mean a lot to fourth-generation farmers Wyatt and Montana, as well as the other members of their family. They acknowledge that neither the farm nor any of its accomplishments would be possible without teamwork and the skills, talent and efforts of each individual family member.