I’m excited to introduce you to one of our new columnists. As you may remember from last issue, our dear Amy Kirk is putting away her pen and ending her popular column, A Ranchwife’s Slant.
We miss her funny observations on ranch life in western South Dakota. But one of our new columnists comes from a place just a couple hours south of Amy’s home base, and she’ll be able to offer plenty of perspective on working with cattle. Meet Jaclyn Wilson of Lakeside, Nebraska.
If you’ve ever picked up a copy of our sister publication, Midwest Messenger, you might recognize Jaclyn from her weekly column. She graciously accepted an invitation to take up dual residency with her “Neighbor” to the north. We’ll be running her column in each issue. I think her tales from the ranch and thoughts on cattle industry issues will fit right in. I hope you’ll find her writing entertaining.
I got a chance to chat with Jaclyn as she traveled between the two operations her family runs in western side of the Sandhills. At her original home place near Lakeside, she’s the fifth generation working with her parents and an uncle on a cow-calf operation. Two years ago she branched off with a cattle operation of her own north of Alliance.
That’s where Jaclyn runs her own business, Flying Diamond Genetics, which she started in 2011. It’s a bovine surrogate business. Clients send embryos and she implants them into her cows, eventually returning a weaned calf to the client.
Calving season is in full swing at Flying Diamond. One group started calving in February, the natural serviced cows will start calving at the end of this month, and she’ll be in the home stretch by the end of April in time to help with calving at the home place, which runs into May.
“I like to calve,” she said.
Jaclyn, 38, is plenty busy year-round. Aside from running her business and managing two cattle operations, she’s an active advocate for the cattle industry and agriculture in general. Jaclyn serves as the resolutions chairwoman for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. She’s been on the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association board, she was the youngest chairwoman of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, and worked on ag advisory committees for Gov. Pete Ricketts and congressional delegates. Jaclyn graduated from the Nebraska LEAD program – that state’s agricultural leadership class, and she recently was appointed to the Nebraska Humanities Council.
She’s engaged and involved, and it’s not surprising that she wanted to be a lobbyist. As a high schooler, she visited Washington, D.C., with the Girls State program.
“I really kind of got the political bug,” she said.
She want to school at the University of Nebraska. She came home in the summer of 2002 to work at the Wilson Ranch before graduating, and she’s she still there.
“I just kept working. It’s a good place to be,” she said.
And she thinks she made the decision by choosing remote western Nebraska over D.C.
“Now I don’t think you could pay me to be a politician in today’s environment,” Jaclyn said.
Jaclyn first graced the pages of the Midwest Messenger giving producer progress reports – like our crop watchers. The stint was supposed to last six months. She did a year, and reader response to her write-ups was so positive that they asked to keep writing.
She writes about whatever is happening at the ranch that week or an issue that gets her fired up. One day she might share a story about calving, the next she might be on a rant about vegans. She tries to make it entertaining and relatable, and she hopes that a lot of people can relate, she said.
To get you up to speed on her common cast of characters, she talks about The Boss Man and Boss Man’s Wife. That’s Mom and Dad to her, Charlie and Blaine Wilson. A hired gal helps out. That’s Whitney Hall, but in the column, she goes by Right Hand.
Jaclyn has one four legged kid, Jemma, the Belgian Malinois.
Writing a column has been a great experience, Jaclyn said. She loves to hear from readers, and the column has gotten her recognized in far-from-home-places including Nashville and Denver. It can be a little unnerving, she said, agriculture is a great community.
Writing a column is a way to share her ag story and connect with others.
“It also give you the opportunity to let people know that you aren’t dead – you just live in the boonies,” she said.
Well, welcome to Tri-State Neighbor, Jaclyn, from your not-so-distant neighbors to the north. We’re happy to have you!
You might have noticed I said Jaclyn is one of our new columnists. We’re adding one more! I’m looking forward to sharing more with you in the next issue! Until then, stay warm, stay safe and hope for spring.