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My Career, My Prize

How does one go about saying “thank you” to an entire industry?

How does one go about saying “thank you” to an entire industry?

That’s my challenge today. Many of you have heard that I am officially taking down my shingle as editor of National Hog Farmer, effective on July 15.

This has been a very difficult decision for me, because I have always loved my job and the dynamic people in the pork industry. I plan to stay involved in the industry through my modest hog operation and, perhaps, some freelance writing and special projects.

A Chilly Start

I began my professional swine industry career as a summer fieldman for the Chester White Swine Record Association while pursuing an animal science degree at the University of Minnesota. That experience effectively jump-started my career in journalism, which ultimately led to my dream job on the editorial staff of National Hog Farmer.

My tenure with National Hog Farmer dates back to Jan. 2, 1973. I remember it well. The weekend before my start date, I borrowed my dad’s pig-hauling farm truck, gathered-up all of my worldly goods — which certainly didn’t fill the truck — and I headed for my new apartment just north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. About a mile shy of my destination, I ran out of gas!

Keep in mind that this was January in Minnesota, where Mother Nature is not known to be kind. She certainly wasn’t on that day as I hiked in subzero temperatures to the nearest gas station.

But things got progressively better. During the roughly 14,786 days that followed, I have enjoyed the generous support of pork producers, Extension staffs, university researchers, independent consultants, swine veterinarians and the allied industry suppliers to the U.S. pork industry. While I didn’t work every weekend, not a day went by that I wasn’t thinking about, working with or writing about pigs.

Best Education Ever

While my education at the University of Minnesota was excellent, it pales by comparison to the wealth of knowledge I have gained from reporting on a wide range of industry topics. One of the best perks of my job has always been working with pork producers who so generously share their production methods, their pig-raising philosophies, their farm records and their “pig sense” with others. I doubt there is another industry in this country where the hard-learned business lessons and production knowledge is exchanged so openly.

I am thankful for the countless hours spent in meetings, seminars, personal hog operation tours and conversations at your kitchen tables. Having access to the vast knowledge base of this industry is a godsend to a pig enthusiast like me.

Youth Opportunities

One thought I would like to leave with all of you is that there are countless opportunities for young people in the pork industry. When I look in the rearview mirror of my educational and professional careers, I have the greatest appreciation for the many opportunities I have had — beginning with my early pig projects.

Even more so today, it is heartening to see the 4-H, FFA and other youth programs supported by the purebred breed associations flourish. I truly hope that the pork industry continues to recognize this talented pool of young people who share “a passion for pigs.” These are your industry leaders, your swine specialists, your Extension staff and your pork producers of the future. I’m confident that their future is bright in an increasingly competitive and global pork industry. 

Eyes on the Prize

After 40 years of never-ending deadlines, I plan to take a break this summer to get caught up on some farm projects and to work on my bucket list. But when the wintery winds begin to blow again in Minnesota, I’ll probably be looking for opportunities to occupy my time.

I treasure the personal and professional relationships I have had over these many years. Thank you all for the wealth of information you have shared with our readers, and for the generous help you have given me along the way.

I have been surrounded by family and devoted co-workers, and blessed with many, many friends across the U.S. pork industry and around the world. It seems fitting that I turn again to one of my favorite quotes from President Teddy Roosevelt, who said: “Far and away, the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

My work in the pork industry has been such a prize. I have enjoyed a great career, a passion for pigs and a lifetime of memories. Thank you all for assisting me in my life’s work — it has truly been my pleasure. Thank you!  

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