2019 is off to a busy start, we’ve flown through a busy January and it’s hard to believe that February is upon us. Now before we get into the “business” portion of this message I’d like to take the opportunity to remind you all that February 14th is Valentine’s Day. That special someone in your life needs to know what they mean to you. I know that I’m grateful every day for my wife Liz, because without her I would be absolutely lost. Whether this is your first valentines with someone, or you’ve been together since “Shep was a pup,” remember that the heart of another is not there to be taken for granted or stepped on, let them know they matter and that you love them.
February has something for everybody, the Florida State Fair kicks off February 7th and runs until the 18th. I’m proud that the Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation has continued their substantial sponsorship of the State Fair’s Champion of Champion’s program, which supports the education and personal growth of livestock exhibitors in 4-H and FFA. Not only are fairs a great opportunity to ride rides, eat all kinds of food, and generally have a great time with your family, but it’s also a chance to educate others about Agriculture. State and local fairs are often the only place that our “city cousins” come face to face with livestock animals. Remember, that we are the advocates for our industry and the true conservationists, so enjoy the fairs, but take the time to #showyourpassion and educate others.
Every year some of my favorite events to attend are the Ranch Rodeos that serve as qualifiers for the State Ranch Rodeo Finals and this year there are 15 scheduled with 8 of them in the first three months of the year. In January, we had the Smith Family Ranch Rodeo, which is always a great competition and holds a special place in my heart since it’s hosted by folks from the Brighton Reservation that I call home. February really gets the season going with rodeos hosted by the Florida State Fair, Polk County Cattlemen’s, Hendry County Cattlemen’s, and the Pasco County Fair. In March, there is Chalo Nitka, new qualifier in Collier County, and the Manatee County Cattlemen’s Association Ranch Rodeo. If you get a chance support and attend these great events, your help and presence is always appreciated by those who host these qualifiers.
Last year the King Ranch Institute of Ranch Management, in conjunction with the Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation held a session on genetics at the FCA office; I personally attended this event and must say it was a top shelf educational opportunity. It was such a success that they’ve decided to host another one this February 21-22, the topic will be “Managing Ranch Employees” and promises to be a worthwhile seminar.
In ranch homes, hunting cabins, and ranch headquarters across the state you can often find paintings showcasing our lifestyle hanging on the wall. A lot of Florida Ranchers can identify the works of Buster Kenton, Hobby Campbell, Robert Butler, Eldon Lux, Sean Sexton, Ned Waters, Brad Phares at a glance, and cherish the images they’ve put on canvas. These artists and others who’ve lived the life or properly captured it’s essence are currently being featured at an exhibit at the famous Polasek Museum in Winter Park. The Foundation is a major sponsor of this exhibit entitled “Lay of the Land: The Art of Florida’s Cattle Culture”. We have the opportunity to show off our heritage and way of life to a set of people that enjoy high art, but have never been exposed to some of our favorite works. Your promotion of this exhibit, which runs until April 11, is greatly appreciated because we are advocates of our industry and heritage, and we need to share our story.
The Florida Cattlemen’s Association has business meetings each quarter, but the next one is probably the most important and impactful. The Legislative Quarterly in Tallahassee will occur March 12-14, and we need all of you to consider attending. The work that the Association does in Tallahassee is vastly important to the future of our industry. The day each year that all those hats and boots descend on the capitol, I always experience a swelling of pride, and believe me the more of us that are there, the bigger difference we make. Check out the details on the FCA website and in this magazine, book you hotel room, and come make a difference with us.
Even though it’s early in the New Year the FCA Annual Convention in Marco is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Folks are really looking forward to getting back to the Marco Marriott, so much that the rooms have sold out in record time, but don’t let that deter you from planning to attend convention. The hotel staff has a waiting list started, and as we get closer to convention some rooms will open up. If you haven’t already booked your room, make that call today and get on the waiting list.
I hope this New Year and the month of February brings much joy to you and your families and even more success to your ranches. #showyourpassion