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Empowered by strong women
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Empowered by strong women

Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at

First off, I’d like to give a huge, gigantic shout out to Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. Last week the governor proclaimed March 20 as Nebraska’s “Meat on the Menu Day.”

This was in direct response to the neighboring governor proclaiming the same day as a “MeatOut” day in his state. I appreciate living in a state where even though those in politics sometimes struggle with agriculture (property tax – hint, hint) it was sure nice to have a governor that came out and support the beef industry.

I may sound like a broken record when I say it has been a zoo around here. The February recip group finished calving. I had about a two-day break before the March group started. The Boss Man and I were able to get the final group of cows home from corn stalks just in time for those calves to start hitting the ground out of the natural service cows that came from the North Place. These cows have previously been calved out in a lot, so the pasture calving is a new experience for them.

I have a theory here. Cows are pretty intelligent animals, though there are the outliers, which as we have found out especially in the last year, runs in more species than just bovines. Teaching cattle new methods of doing things is always a little bit of challenge, but one thing I have found out is that cows, like humans, like consistency.

I have seen it firsthand. If we do the same thing with most of the same people year after year, our cat-tle are pretty accepting. When someone new comes in to help, it takes a bit for the livestock to adjust. I also need to make sure and check my mood at the door. If I’m having a bad day, every single animal I work with picks up on my mood and makes it their life goal to challenge my mood. I think having live-stock humbles a person.

March 8 is International Women’s Day. My Facebook memories had quite a few posts that I’ve made over the years – from writing my final divorce check on that day four years ago to feeding in the tractor in a pair of knee-high boots.

Each memory brought a sense of empowerment with it. For every struggle that one has to go through, there always seems to be a hint of something better on the other side.

I understand middle-aged, single, female ranchers are not the norm. I know not everyone under-stands having the livestock and legacy take precedence over raising a family. I understand that my commitment to an industry that sometimes can just be brutal and tough may make me an outcast, but that’s OK.

I’m writing this article on March 8, and I want to look back on some of the females that made a great difference in my life. The first was my grade schoolteacher from K-3, Georgia Stanley. This lady em-powered me in being an individual. She encouraged my love to read and gave me the desire to always keep learning.

The second was my high school speech coach, Arlene Wellnitz. Arlene believed in my potential, and though there were times she pushed me, there were those times that she believed in me. My senior year in high school, she had pulled me aside when speech season was beginning and said she’d make me a deal-if I would tell her that I would win state speech in extemporaneous speaking I wouldn’t have to practice. I think she knew what buttons of mine to push, and it was important to me that I fol-low through with my word, which I did, thank God.

The third lady was Lois Liggett. I met Lois my freshmen year in high school, and the next four years she became my second mom as I would board with her throughout every school week. She would some-times serve me cupcakes for breakfast, which became a running joke, but she took me under her wing and treated me as a member of her family, which I appreciated and miss her dearly for.

There have been so many other strong women in my life. I’m beyond grateful for their relationships, their advice, their compassion and their desire to make each day a bit better.

I hope that we can all take a breath and pause to remember those that have made us better people. Hopefully somewhere out there, there are younger females that are looking up to us, too.

Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at This column represents the views of one person and are not necessarily the opinion of the Midwest Messenger.   

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Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at

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