Celebrating Ag Week
PETERSON – Linda Swanson is no stranger to cattle, but as she sat among her peers and listened to see who would be the recipient of this year’s Clay County Cattleman of the Year award, she never dreamed she would hear her own name.
“They said it was someone from the Royal High School class of 1964,” Swanson said, “and I was looking around to see who it was, because that was the year I graduated from high school, and we were the last ones to graduate from that school,” she said. “When they said the recipient married her high school sweetheart, I couldn’t believe it when they said my name.”
Swanson received the award last month at the group’s annual banquet in Everly.
This is the first time the award honored a woman.
Mike Juza, Clay County Cattlemen’s Association president, said the award is determined by a meeting of the three previous recipients, who choose the next recipient.Though he was not part of that group, he felt the award was both justified and deserving.
“She has always carried her fair share,” Juza said. “She is a great organizer and just handles things when they come up. She was the secretary for six years, but her duties didn’t stop there-she has always gone above and beyond her role as our secretary, helping out wherever she is needed, for whatever we’re doing.”
Swanson said when she realized she was going to be receiving the award, the flood gates opened.
“My emotions got the better of me,” she said with a laugh. “They were saying such flattering things-how does a person get up in front of a crowd to accept something like this, when so many sitting out there have also done wonderful things?”
Swanson has been involved with cattle all of her life. Growing up on a farm just 2 miles from where she and her husband, Allen, have made their home all these years, they have raised production livestock-bulls and heifers -all or most of that time, and also raise show cattle. Their mix includes Angus, Maine Anjou, Hereford and some Charolaise.
Swanson said she did her share of bringing cows up to the barn, helping to birth calves and care for them, and helped work cattle during the summer. She took on other kinds of cattle involvement roles as she eventually became involved in Clay County Extension. There, she devoted 30 years to the 4-H program through ISU Extension, helping to organize livestock shows and doing behind-the-scenes work for all of the livestock sales.
She also served as secretary for the Clay County Cattlemen for five of the six years she was on the board and has volunteered mega-hours at the Branding Iron, a restaurant located on the Clay County Fairgrounds, and run by the Clay County Cattlemen.
“In the time I was on the Cattlemen’s board, I really learned a lot about what an organization can do,” she said. “Clay County has a very progressive cattlemen’s association. They’ve had people go to the state level advocating for different things-including ag education.”
Swanson said she has been proud to be part of an organization that really was “for the people.”
“I’ve heard a lot of requests from people to the Cattlemen’s Association, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard them say ‘no’ to anyone,” she said. “They support our communities tremendously. The (income from the) Branding Iron has enabled them to do a lot of good things.”
At home, Swanson does the farm books and farm record keeping, all computerized now. She said her family decided that she and her husband didn’t need to do night checks anymore during calving season and have taken on those duties completely. But she still makes the few-mile drive over to the barns and the cattle lot, located southwest of Rossie, to see what’s going on and to check in with those working there. They include their son and his wife, Chris and Lisa Swanson, and daughter and son-in-law, le m and Pam Hanson. They also have some grandchildren who frequent the operation, along with incoming grandchildren through marriage.
“We’re so blessed to have our children and their families living close to us and farming with us,” she said.
As someone who has worked for 30 years with the 4-H program, she said she has seen many young people she used to work with at the fair, come back to Clay County to make their homes after college. As a county supervisor, she also notices that and sees the importance of youths and young adults becoming involved in the communities and on the farm.
“It’s so wonderful to see these young people coming back to make their homes in our rural communities,” she said.
When she speaks of receiving the Cattleman of the Year award-and being the first woman in Clay County history to receive it-she is humbled.
“I struggled when I got up there (to receive it) because it was such a beautiful honor,” she said. “But it motivates me to see places where I can do some good or promote a program where I can help someone. I love doing things for other people, and it’s part of why I enjoy being a county supervisor. A lot of other people are doing the same kinds of things.”
Swanson said there are a lot of reasons she enjoys farm life, but she said the part she enjoys most is being able to be with her family every day.
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