Charting our progress, aspirations and successes

I’m not sure what it is about this time of year. Maybe it’s the colder weather or the end of a semester or perhaps the holiday season, but something comes over me and puts me in the mood to reflect.

Some people say reflection is good for the soul. It’s restorative and calming, and at the same time, it leads to new ideas and new motivations for the semester, season or year ahead. It also allows us to identify and recognize milestones and insights, celebrate accomplishments and set new goals and aspirations.

As an organization, it’s good for us to stop and reflect as well, and we’ll have many opportunities to do that over the weeks ahead. One tool that can help with our organizational reflection is a thoughtful review of our annual “The Division Triangle” publication. The 2014 edition is now available.

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How have our researchers and Extension personnel helped producers manage the ongoing drought? What the heck is a Fender Blender Bike, anyway? How exactly does dressing in costume help agricultural economics Professor Bailey Norwood keep students engaged while learning? Which CASNR judging team claimed national champion honors this year? What are some of the highlights from our year-long celebration of Extension’s 100th anniversary?

To find the answers to these intriguing questions, you’ll just have to pick up a copy of the 2014 issue or click here to read it online. While you’re flipping through the pages, be sure to spend some time reading about other amazing milestones we’ve achieved and interesting initiatives we’ve launched as a division this year. You also can learn more about the terrific group of professionals, alumni and donors who make DASNR what it is today.

I’m so impressed with the work of our photographer as well – be sure to check out the top-notch work.

Of course, we have so many more stories to tell than we’re able to capture in the annual edition of “The Division Triangle. I look forward to finding even more ways to share our successes and the difference our people make for students, alumni and all who are involved in Oklahoma’s strong agriculture, food and natural resource-based industries.

I’m sure you’ve heard me say it before, and quite frankly, you’ll likely hear me say it again, the land-grant mission is everything to this university and to DASNR. It’s why our organization exists. I’m proud and thankful for all you do to make that mission very real for the people of Oklahoma, and it’s great to have an outstanding publication like “The Division Triangle” mark our progress, aspirations and successes.

Meeting an OSU Legend, Minnie Lou Bradley

I had the privilege of attending this year’s Saddle & Sirloin Club Portrait Gallery induction ceremony on Nov. 16 in Louisville, Kentucky. The legendary gallery, believed to be the largest portrait gallery dedicated to a single industry, commemorates leaders in the American livestock industry. Annually, leaders in this industry select one individual to be inducted into the gallery based on his or her contributions to American livestock production.

The 2014 inductee is Minnie Lou Bradley, an alumna of OSU, then Oklahoma A&M College, who has been an industry leader for more than 60 years. The first woman to graduate in animal husbandry from the university, she was a national award winner in livestock judging in the early 1950s.

Minnie Lou went on to pursue a career in the livestock industry. She purchased a Texas ranch, the Bradley 3 Ranch, with her husband, Bill, in 1955, and went on to turn the operation into a successful business, growing the ranch from 3,300 acres to 10,000 acres. A leader in Angus breeding, she’s recognized as a master breeder by OSU and was named as one of the top 50 U.S. Beef Industry Leaders by Beef Magazine. While managing the ranch with her daughter and son-in-law, Mary Lou and James Henderson, she expanded it to include a meat processing facility, which has subsequently been sold. Additionally, she has been an active voice in the American Angus Association and in 2005 she became the first woman to preside over the organization.

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It was a personal honor to meet Minnie Lou and witness her induction in the prestigious Saddle & Sirloin Club Portrait Gallery. I learned a great deal about her tremendous work ethic and intelligence related to beef and range management.

Minnie Lou shared a number of insights during her comments, two of which really captured my attention. One was that she said she never received any special treatment for being a woman. I couldn’t help but think that was a very positive outlook on what must have been challenging circumstances for her. After all, being the first to break any barrier often means overcoming unnecessary adversities rather than enjoying certain advantages, yet she insisted she never received privilege for her status.

The other comment that resonated with me was Minnie Lou’s statement that it’s the land that matters. She has been lauded for turning degraded rangeland into a productive ranch. She pioneered a number of approaches to range improvement and conservation. Additionally, she portrayed livestock as simply a finished product of the land and indicated that it could just as well be other products that are harvested from the land. To see her as a leader in the livestock industries means others ascribed to her philosophy and perspective on land and livestock management.

It reminded me of Aldo Leopold’s essay, The Land Ethic, published posthumously in 1949. In the essay, Leopold summarized the Land Ethic as this: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” From the description of Minnie Lou’s recovery of a failing landscape, I think she reflects exactly the kind of outlook that Leopold espoused at about the time Minnie Lou was enrolled at Oklahoma A&M.

One other noteworthy facet of the induction ceremony was a table of 12 young women who are currently aspiring to build careers in the livestock industry. Beyond representing a handful of universities where they are students, they also represent the spirit and legacy of Minnie Lou’s efforts. Overall, it was great for them to hear and see this pioneering woman.

In fact, two of the 12 women are members of the current OSU Livestock Judging Team, which was in Louisville for the contest held in association with the North American International Livestock Expo. The team placed second to continue their string of successes in livestock judging this fall.

I complimented the professional portrait artist, Richard Stewart Halstead, for capturing the sense of certitude and resolve so evident from spending a few minutes visiting with Ms. Bradley. As I said to him, “there is no evidence of doubt on her countenance.” That seems true to life. We are honored to have Minnie Lou as the 10th inductee to the Saddle & Sirloin Club Portrait Gallery from Oklahoma A&M and OSU.