Linda Swanz Named “Ranching Woman of the Year”

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Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) recently recognized Linda Swanz as “Ranching Woman of the Year”. The announcement was made Friday, December 9 during the 132nd MSGA Annual Convention and Trade Show at the Radisson Hotel in Billings.

Linda (Hannah) Swanz grew up in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains south of Moore, MT. She is the daughter of J.C. (Jack) and Betty Hannah. Linda has four siblings—John (Jean) Hannah of Torrance, CA; Marge Hannah of Helena; and Carol (Pete) Hannah Hinson of Billings. Linda graduated from Moore High School and then the University of Montana and went on to work as a social worker.

She married John Swanz in 1968 and a few years later they moved to their current home, a ranch in the Snowy Mountains east of Judith Gap. Linda and John have two children, Lisa and Jason. Linda has dedicated her life to ranching, and by extension, her family, for the past 48 years. A constant presence in the life of her family, raising her children, and now continuing to be a huge part in the lives of her four grandsons.

This year’s Ranching Woman of the Year has always been there to lend a helping hand:  from turning out pairs during calving, making sure everyone had a meal during brandings and shipping, hauling trailers, keeping the house and kids running, and even driving that old self-propelled square baler…even though her feet didn’t reach the pedals!

Linda is involved in the Central Montana Cattlewomen, the Montana Cattlewomen, and the Montana Beef Council. She was a 4-H leader for many years, has received honorary FFA degrees, and has been involved in numerous other agricultural and community related activities.

The Ranching Woman of the Year award is an annual honor presented during MSGA’s Annual Convention and Trade Show. Contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420 to find out how you can nominate someone for next year’s recognition. To learn about previous honorees, visit mtbeef.org/ranching-woman.

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The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

Montana Stockgrowers Association Seeks Nominations for Ranching Woman of the Year

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is seeking nominations for the 2016 Montana Ranching Woman of the Year. The annual award is presented to an MSGA member who has made great contributions to the Montana ranching community and has gone above and beyond to support their family and friends. Nominations are due October 31 and the recipient will be recognized at MSGA’s annual convention in Billings, December 7-9.

“Women are the backbone of Montana’s ranching communities. These women go above and beyond to support their immediate family members and pitch in whenever the need arises in their communities,” said Gene Curry, MSGA President from Valier. “We look forward to recognizing these accomplished women each year at our annual convention and thanking them for their hard work.”

Last year’s recipient of the Ranching Woman of the Year was Lila Taylor, who ranches with her husband, Watty, near Kirby. Lila has served in the Montana House of Representatives and on the Montana Board of Regents. She currently serves on the Montana Higher Education Student Assistance Corporation Board and Student Assistant Foundation Board. In 2015 she was appointed to a seat on the Montana Board of Livestock by Governor Bullock.

Past recipients of the award include Bev Fryer of White Sulphur Springs, Glenna Stucky of Avon, Floydena Garrison of Glen, Helen Hougen of Melstone, Marian Hanson of Ashland, Carol Mosher of Augusta and Donna Sitz-Arthun of Billings.

Nomination letters submitted by family or close friends should identify a ranching woman, who is a member of Montana Stockgrowers, describe her role on the ranch, and the characteristics that set her apart when supporting the family and ranch, as well as describe her involvement in community efforts. Biographies should include the ranching woman’s hometown, family members, and number of years involved in ranching activities.

Nominations should be submitted to the Montana Stockgrowers office by October 31, 2015 via mail (420 N. California, Helena, MT 59601) or email (lorrie@mtbeef.org). For more information contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420 or visit mtbeef.org/ranching-woman.

Lila Taylor Named “Ranching Woman of the Year”

Lila Watty Taylor Ranching Woman of the YearMontana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) recently recognized Lila Taylor of Kirby, in Big Horn County, as “Ranching Woman of the Year”. The announcement was made Saturday, December 5 during the 131st MSGA Annual Convention and Trade Show at Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings.

Lila, wife of Watty, excited to win the award, was joined on stage by her family. Taylor was nominated for the award by friends and family in the Busby area and from across Montana.

The Taylor family and friends collaborated to share a fitting profile of Lila’s accomplishments through the years:

Lila (Vescovi) Taylor was born into a dairy family outside of Roundup. After the dairy burned down, her family bought into the Registered Polled Hereford business. Her parents, Earl and Wasy, became successful breeders and were eventually inducted into the Polled Hereford Hall of Fame. She was her dad’s right hand man, learning all aspects of the cattle industry and business. She began delivering bulls across Montana and neighboring states when she was just 15 years old.

In her youth, Lila spent countless hours preparing and participating in 4-H and became very successful, especially in the cattle judging and showing arenas. She was the second high individual scorer at the 4-H Congress her senior year. After high school graduation, Lila moved to Bozeman to attend Montana State University where she participated on the MSU Judging Team. Lila graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Ag Business in 1971. To this day, she is a hard-core Bobcat fan and is proud to wear blue and gold!

scan[5] copy 17In 1969, she served as the first official Northern International Livestock Exposition hostess, making her the first “Queen of the Nile.” Later, she would become the chairperson for the youth 4-H/FFA committee at the NILE. This gave her the opportunity to judge 4-H fairs across the state, which she enjoyed. Watty and Lila are proud inaugural members of the NILE.

After a short courtship, she married Watty Taylor in June 1972. They moved to a ranch in Boyd, Montana, which was the start of the “ranch wife” years. In 1973, they moved to Kirby, Montana so that Watty could take over as foreman of his family’s ranch, a cow-calf operation. She became a mother to three sons, (Kirby born 1975, Jay born 1976 and Peter born 1978).

It was during this time that Lila learned the art of cooking for large ranch crews and refining her skills in the “domestic” areas, which was new to her as she grew up a tomboy. Many can attest that today she will not bat an eye at cooking a meal for 30, after she has weighed the calves, provided coffee and checked on the crew’s progress!

Watty & Lila took over the ranch business from his parents in 1994. The boys were away at school and as a couple, they did it all…night calving, riding & gathering, vaccinating, spraying weeds, swathing and the list goes on. Lila has a can-do attitude and expects everyone else to get it done, too!

DSC_0538Lila has put much energy into serving outside of the ranch. After sending her last son away to school, Governor Racicot encouraged her to run for a seat in the Montana House of Representatives. She was told she had 19% chance of winning. However, she was resilient and was elected in the fall of 1994. She served three terms, sitting on committee seats in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Education. In her last term, she served as vice chair of the Legislative Finance Committee.

In 2003, Governor Martz appointed her to the Board of Regents, where she served until 2010. She was selected to serve on the Montana Higher Education Student Assistance Corporation Board (MHESAC) & Student Assistant Foundation (SAF) Boards; she is still serving on these boards today.

In 2011, Governor Schweitzer appointed her to the Montana Board of Public Education. Governor Bullock appointed her to a seat on the Montana Board of Livestock in 2015. Lila serves on the local school board, having helped to create the only small school district cooperative in the state. She also currently serves on the Big Horn Electric Cooperative Board and the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors.

Lila has Italian “gusto” and will not be dissuaded. Her brother remembers fondly that if she couldn’t get a gate open, she’d pull up to it with a pick-up and “nudge” the gate until she could get it loose enough to open, a trick she uses to this day. She is confident in her beliefs and does not back down easily; while terrified of mice, she has been known to a kill a rattlesnake or two with a rope. She loves her family, friends and her suburban passionately.

Today, Lila and Watty are still operating their cow-calf operation near Kirby. All three sons and their spouses, Kirby and Misty, Jay and Cherie, and Peter and Amanda, are involved in ranching in Montana. She is a very proud grandmother of seven: Will, Ava, Emery, Anna, Reese, Brett and Samuel. Her boys lovingly refer to her as “The Warden”, you know her as Lila Taylor.

The Ranching Woman of the Year award is an annual honor presented during MSGA’s Annual Convention and Trade Show. Contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420 to find out how you can nominate someone for next year’s recognition. To learn about previous honorees, visit mtbeef.org/ranching-woman.

Click here for more 2015 Annual Convention coverage from Montana Stockgrowers.

Montana Stockgrowers Seeks Nominations for Ranching Woman of the Year

Bev Fryer Ranching Woman of the YearThe Montana Stockgrowers Association is seeking nominations for the 2015 Montana Ranching Woman of the Year. The annual award is presented to an MSGA member who has made great contributions to the Montana ranching community and has gone above and beyond to support their family and friends. Nominations are due October 31 and the recipient will be recognized at MSGA’s annual convention in Billings, December 3-5.

“Women are often the backbone of Montana’s ranching communities. These women often go above and beyond to support their immediate family members and pitch in whenever the need arises in their communities,” said Gene Curry, MSGA President from Valier. “We look forward to recognizing these accomplished women each year at our annual convention and thanking them for their hard work.”

Last year’s recipient of the Ranching Woman of the Year was Bev Fryer, who ranches with her husband, Ed, near White Sulfur Springs. Alongside raising a family, the Fryers raise cattle at the Castle Mountain Ranch, where Bev takes charge of training horses and calving more than 300 heifers each spring. Bev is active in area youth and CattleWomen’s activities, ranch rodeos, and guides hunters looking for elk each year.

Past recipients of the award include Glenna Stucky of Avon, Floydena Garrison of Glen, Helen Hougen of Melstone, Marian Hanson of Ashland, Carol Mosher of Augusta and Donna Sitz-Arthun of Billings.

Nomination letters submitted by family or close friends should identify a ranching woman, who is a member of Montana Stockgrowers, describe her role on the ranch, and the characteristics that set her apart when supporting the family and ranch, as well as describe her involvement in community efforts. Biographies should include the ranching woman’s hometown, family members, and number of years involved in ranching activities.

Along with the nomination biography, submissions should include photos depicting the ranching woman’s family, ranch and community involvement.

Nominations should be submitted to the Montana Stockgrowers office by October 31, 2015 via mail (420 N. California, Helena, MT  59601) or email (lorrie@mtbeef.org). For more information contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420 or visit mtbeef.org/ranching-woman.

Meet Bev Fryer of White Sulphur Springs | Montana Ranching Woman of the Year

Grand Finale Banquet Ranching Woman Bev Fryer (2)Each year, Montana Stockgrowers recognizes someone who has made great contributions to the ranching community and goes above and beyond to help family and friends. This Ranching Woman of the Year award is a great opportunity to honor the women who are often the backbone of Montana’s ranching communities. These women often go well beyond what is asked of them to support their immediate family members and pitch in whenever the need arises in their communities. This year’s honor recipient is no exception.

Bev Fryer, of White Sulphur Springs was recognized as Ranching Woman of the Year during Montana Stockgrowers’ 130th Annual Convention in December. Bev and husband Ed operate the Castle Mountain Ranch, where Bev pitches in on almost every task from long nights of calving heifers, breaking young colts, coordinating annual elk hunts, and making sure everyone is well fed when events bring crowds to visit the ranch.

As her brother, Tim, wrote, Bev is truly a ranch woman who exemplifies the personal family and community attributes of Ranching Woman of the year. Her involvement and commitment to agriculture, love for family and animals began at an early age, and her positive contributions to Montana agriculture have continued ever since as she and husband, Ed, have been operating large cattle ranches for the past forty years.

Early Life and Marriage

Bev Fryer Ranching Woman of the YearBev grew up on a family farm in Fishtail, Montana with her parents, Jake and Agnes Schaff, and six siblings. There was plenty of work to go around, milking dairy cows, feeding pigs, along with taking care of cattle, horses, sheep and the families hay ground and custom farming operation. This work surely instilled a strong work ethic for Bev, her brothers and sisters at an early age.

Bev received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Montana State University. Through her college career, Bev continued a heavy work schedule, as if it was not a job, but rather a way of life. Afterward, she committed to teaching grade school in a rural community until she realized her time and efforts were more important to her family and helping on the ranch.

Ed and Bev married in June of 1973, while he was working as a cowboy on the Flying D ranch. Bev worked at a laundry and helped around the ranch. They spent several weeks in a tent camp, pushing cattle near the forest boundary, packing salt and sawing trails. From the very start, Bev was heavily involved in calving season, sorting pairs, feeding calves, and any other chores that needed to be done. She pitched in on brandings too and even became a good roper.

Through the late seventies, the couple worked on ranches in the region. Bev became heavily involved in large-scale AI projects, tasked with heat detection, pitching in for every task on the ranch and taught children at rural schools.

Starting a Family

Grand Finale Banquet Ranching Woman Bev Fryer (21)As their two boys came along, Bev brought them along for the ride, rather than letting them slow her down. Last year’s Ranching Woman of the Year recipient, Glenna Stucky, is a longtime friend of the Fryers, having known Bev and Ed since they worked at the Flying D in the early seventies. One story Glenna loves about Bev shares her dedication to ranch work.

“When Bev was pregnant with one of the boys, they lived at the Home Ranch, which was probably five miles and several wire gates from a county road on the way to Bozeman. As one of the boys was about to arrive, Ed was driving Bev to town. When they came to a gate, he would ask, “Bev, are you having a contraction – can you get the gate?” And she always managed to get the gates!” Talk about patience and dedication!

Bev continued being a crucial part of operating ranches where she and Ed worked in Montana and Wyoming. Not only did she hone her skills in the calving shed, Bev also worked to develop early individual identification systems to track individual animals, managed the budgets, payroll and accounting for multiple ranches, and grew large gardens that fed entire working crews on the ranches.

As their boys, Jim and David, grew up, Bev made sure they were involved in ranch work and several 4-H activities. The family took several market steers and horses to the county and state fairs, competed in shooting sports, and worked in many community events.

Move to Castle Mountain

Bev Fryer Ranching Woman of the Year VaccinationsIn 1998, Ed and Bev moved to White Sulphur Springs to the Castle Mountain Ranch, where Bev continued her heavy involvement in operations of the ranch. Over the past 17 years, Bev has been the main calver for the ranch, watching over 300 heifers each year, assisting any new mothers or calves who need help to get a good start, and riding through the mature cows several times a day until turned out to a larger pasture.

No starving, weak calf is too hopeless for her to nurse back to health. Bev will send the newborns and their mothers off, but only after confirming a good match with plenty of milk. She always tells the men she expects to see the calf doing well at branding. They know she will recognize them, with or without their tags.

Bev breaks all the baby colts on the ranch to lead and stand tied in the barn. The guys may have to rope a honky one for her once in a while, but most of them she gets by herself. Almost all of the Castle Mountain horses have had the benefit of Bev’s first winter’s training and grain.

At Castle Mountain Ranch, Bev manages a special cow elk hunt, developed to disburse and reduce a local concentration of elk. She takes all reservations on a single day for around 150 hunters to spread over the entire season. Bev meets ten or twelve of those hunters at the ranch office an hour before sunrise every day during the season, collects their personal and vehicle identification, conducts a short orientation, assigns maps and hunting areas, and doles out a few tips along the way. Most hunters are amazed at her detailed knowledge of both the country and elk. Most hunters have success, with 50-75% of them getting elk exactly where Bev says they will be.

Taking Care of Friends and Community

Bev Fryer Ranching Woman of the Year Meagher County CattleWomenAccording to her husband Ed, one of the things Bev always does well is cook for large groups of guests and ranch crews with few supplies and hardly an extra trip to town. She may be short an ingredient, but it never seems to matter much as everyone will be fed. Ed describes one such event:

“Years ago, after dark one night before a big shipping, Bev discovered I had no lunch plans for the crew the next day, in an area 50 miles out from any kind of services. With a bit of bustling around, Bev had hot stew and coffee for a dozen of us, plus 25 truckers. All this was prepared on a camp stove, while she helped weigh cattle on what turned out to be a very squally day.”

For several years, Bev has hosted prime rib Christmas parties for 25 people at a time, and served up lunches for the crew at brandings, while pitching in herself, and feeding a family of growing boys and all the challenges ranch life may bring.

Through the years, Bev has been heavily involved in the local and state CattleWomen organizations. In White Sulphur Springs, she leads a group feeding two-day breakfasts for over 1,000 attendees of the annual Red Ants Pants music festival. However, Bev’s love for sharing food, beef in particular, does not stop at the kitchen. She has worked through the CattleWomen to participate in several beef education programs and has served terms as local and state President. She has participated in the National Beef Cook-off several years and works hard to help others learn the importance of beef as part of a healthy diet.

Somehow, Bev also finds time to participate in several community events, including several local ranch rodeo teams through the years. Putting those ranch skills to good use, Bev has contributed to winning teams and helps to host a local ranch rodeo for the past several years.

Importance of Family

Bev Fryer Ranching Woman of the Year GrandchildrenFamily is incredibly important to Bev, as she has raised her two sons, and now enjoys taking care of five grandchildren. Both her sons were raised as a big part of the ranches where the family worked, and each now works on cattle operations in Montana. Bev makes sure to nurture her extended family with equal energy.

Jim’s wife, Heather, remembers wondering when she first met Bev, “Where does all this energy come from?” and now, Heather says she’s never met a harder working woman. Bev asked Heather to help on a three-day project once and they worked every day, non-stop. At the end, Heather was exhausted, but Bev, on the other hand, was fine and even wanted to go to the Hot Springs for a soak at the end of the day.

Bev continually supports her family as Ed’s right hand man for more than 40 years of working together. She has helped her family through several projects, adventures, long-distance moves, and several newborn babies. Bev’s mother is 93 years old and still lives alone. Bev frequently makes the trip to Fishtail to help her mother to doctor appointments, with spring and fall cleaning, and the occasional exploration trip.

Bev Fryer is described time and again by family and friends as a true example of a woman who is the backbone of the ranching operation and her family, a true positive role model in her communities and a complete inspiration to be around. As a woman who exemplifies all the characteristics of a person who makes a truly positive contribution to ranching, Montana Stockgrowers is proud to recognize Bev Fryer as this year’s Ranching Woman of the Year recipient.

To nominate a role model in your life for next year’s Ranching Woman of the Year award, contact the Montana Stockgrowers Association in Helena at (406) 442-3420 or email lorrie@mtbeef.org. The nomination process will begin in September 2015.

Nominations for Ranching Woman of the Year Due November 1

Glenna Stucky Avon - Ranching Woman of the Year - Montana Stockgrowers

2013 Ranching Woman of the Year, Glenna Stucky of Avon.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is seeking nominations for the 2014 Montana Ranching Woman of the Year. The annual award is presented to an MSGA member who has made great contributions to the Montana ranching community and has gone above and beyond to support their family and friends. Nominations are due November 1 and the recipient will be recognized at MSGA’s annual convention in Billings, December 11-13.

“Women are often the backbone of Montana’s ranching communities. These women often go above and beyond to support their immediate family members and pitch in whenever the need arises in their communities,” said Tucker Hughes, MSGA President from Stanford. “We look forward to recognizing these accomplished women each year at our annual convention and thanking them for their hard work.”

Last year’s recipient of the Ranching Woman of the Year was Glenna Stucky, who ranches with her husband, Earl, near Avon. Along with raising their family, Glenna has been heavily involved in local 4-H programs, CattleWomen’s activities and several community events. Family friends Ed and Bev Fryer describe Glenna as “just one of those people who when you meet them, you know that they are very happy and successful being a Ranch Woman.”

Past recipients of the award include Floydena Garrison of Glen, Helen Hougen of Melstone, Marian Hanson of Ashland, Carol Mosher of Augusta, Donna Sitz-Arthun of Billings, and Holley Smith of Glen.

Nomination letters submitted by family or close friends should identify a ranching woman, who is a member of Montana Stockgrowers, describe her role on the ranch, and the characteristics that set her apart when supporting the family and ranch, as well as describe her involvement in community efforts. Biographies should include the ranching woman’s hometown, family members, and number of years involved in ranching activities.

Along with the nomination biography, submissions should include photos depicting the ranching woman’s family, ranch and community involvement.

Nominations should be submitted to the Montana Stockgrowers office by November 1, 2014 via mail (420 N. California, Helena, MT 59601) or email (lorrie@mtbeef.org). For more information contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420 or visit mtbeef.org.

Glenna Stucky of Avon named “Ranching Woman of the Year”

Glenna Stucky Avon - Ranching Woman of the Year - Montana StockgrowersGlenna Stucky of Avon was honored as “Ranching Woman of the Year” by the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA), Saturday, Dec. 14 during their 129th Annual Convention and Trade Show at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana in Billings. Stucky, wife of Earl Stucky, was excited to win the award and was joined on stage by her family. Stucky was nominated for the award by her granddaughter, Billie Jo Holzer.

Here is her biography, as written by Billie Jo:

Glenna was born and raised in Bozeman, Montana. Her youth consisted of 4-H, sewing, cooking, playing the piano for dances with her dad. Her 4-H years led her to her husband Earl Stucky.

In their early years of marriage, Glenna worked at the state 4-H office while she and Earl were 4-H leaders. They raised five kids on the ranch once known as Flying D. While Earl was away at cow camp, Glenna was often home alone with the kids, taking care of all the ranch chores, plus her chickens, milk cows and harvesting a bountiful garden. Her outside passions were passed down to her kids and grandkids.

Glenna and Earl then moved the family to the Keiley Ranch in 1976, which they purchased north of Avon. Glenna shared her brilliance in sewing, cooking, and gardening not only with her own kids and with grandkids, but enriched many 4-H’ers during her 35-year leadership role.

Glenna helped start the Powell County Cattlewomen and is a current member of the district and state Cattlewomen associations. One of her other loves is the Avon Get-Together Club which is a fundraising club for the community and is on her 21st year.

On the ranch Glenna still keeps books for 1000+ head operation, feeds the hired men and takes care of her five milk cows and a dozen plus orphan calves. An encounter with a hostile heifer during calving, that laid her up for a time, has not slowed her down and she still takes her checks during that busy season. Caking heifers with her daughter every spring morning and making sure the shelves are stocked with vaccines and medical supplies for the ranch are still some of her daily duties.

Her family looks up to her in so many ways and truly believe she is the rock of the family. Strong, loving, gracious, and dedicated are a few of her fine qualities.  Yes, Glenna Stucky is a ranch woman pioneer, passing down the legacy to her kids and grandkids with grace and love.

Family friends Ed and Bev Fryer add that even after raising her family, Glenna seems busier than ever. Glenna is always “helping at whatever ranch duties that she is called upon to do, volunteering at community events, and still being a mother, and especially a grandmother to her ever growing family. She has had her share of challenges, but still maintains a cheerful and positive attitude on life. She is just one of those people that you know when you meet them that they are very happy and successful being a Ranch Woman.”

The Ranching Woman of the Year Award is an annual honor given during MSGA’s Annual Convention and Trade Show. Contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420 to find out how you can nominate someone for next year. Visit MSGA on the web at www.mtbeef.org.