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All In The Family

family-at-jr-natls-in-sf.jpg As a fifth-generation cattle rancher, agriculture runs deep in my DNA. Beef and cattle are the topics of conversation at most of our family gatherings, and it’s a passion that my grandparents have instilled in their children and grandchildren. I just couldn’t help but share the news that my Grandpa Arnold Wienk, has been honored as the South Dakota State University (SDSU) 2011 Eminent Farmer/Rancher. He will be recognized this weekend on the SDSU campus, and I couldn’t be more proud to have him as a role model.

An article appearing in Tri-State Neighbors says this of Grandpa, "Doing what he can to benefit the people and product of the beef industry has been Arnold Wienk's mantra throughout his 53-year career as a registered Charolais seedstock producer. A commercial cattleman when he purchased his first Charolais bull, Wienk was looking to improve his herd's genetics. After seeing the benefits crossbreeding yielded in his herd, the Lake Preston, SD, cattleman knew he couldn't keep the breed a secret.

“‘The average purebred operation only lasts seven years. There were many times when we were pretty close to the bottom of the class in the show ring, but would end up selling a truck load of cattle to a cattle producer who saw us at the fair and liked what he saw,” Wienk says. He operates Wienk Charolais with his wife, Carol; daughter and son-in-law, Jody and Jeff Eschenbaum; and his newest partner, his oldest grandson, Sterling Eschenbaum and his wife, Courtney.

"While he and his family were busy growing their seedstock business, Wienk also invested his time in promoting the Charolais breed. He is a founding member of the Upper Midwest Charolais Association, the South Dakota Charolais Association and Kingsbury County Cattlemen’s Association. He served as president of the American International Charolais Association and was on the national Cattlemen’s Beef Board.

"A true family operation, Wienk’s five daughters, Deb Vedvei, Kim Jensen, Peggy Nolz, Jody Eschenbaum and Amy Bailey, were all actively involved in the day-to-day operations of raising cattle and feedstuffs. Four of Wienk’s five daughters and their families are still involved in the livestock industry. Three have operations within 2 miles of the farm Wienk was born and raised on. The family has been actively involved in 4-H and supported 4-H, FFA and collegiate judging teams for several years."

Congratulations to my grandparents, Arnold and Carol Wienk, for this amazing honor. I'm so blessed to have such strong role models to guide me in family values and the beef business, and it warms my heart to see them recognized for their dedication to both over the years.

This month, we are celebrating the families in the beef business in a special way. A new photo contest has been started, and the theme is "State Fair Memories," which will feature kids and cattle -- two of life's greatest things.

Learn all the details of the contest here.

Email me your entries to by Sept. 19 to be qualified to win a copy of my new children's book, "Levi's Lost Calf."

View the entries we have received from readers across the country in the photo gallery here.