Meet the ICON Board and Regional Directors
Link to Board and Directors Map HERE
David J. Wright - Neligh, Nebraska
Jim Dinklage, President and Animal Health Committee Chair - Orchard, Nebraska
Occupation: 5th generation cattleman tracing back to roots in Germany.
Operation: “Due to my age, I’ve sold my cows. I have a custom grazing operation in SW Knox County where I practice intensive rotational grazing. I feed cattle in various custom feedlots, feeding drug free when I can find the natural feeder cattle. Years ago, I raised drug- free calves by using a direct- fed probiotic additive. I now have my own probiotic company, Dinklage Enterprises, LLC, where I make and sell Natural Defense livestock microbial products.”
What does the cattle business mean to Dinklage: “The cattle business to me means producing a great product. Because I started out as a cattle feeder in Cuming County, NE, I felt great satisfaction from starting out light- weight calves, keeping them healthy, feeding, and watching them grow. Then finally finishing them at 1400 lbs., having them yield 64%, and grade choice and prime. When I started my cow
herd, it was like Christmas in the spring to see what the calves were like from my AI breeding program as they raced and played on my Sandhills ranch. There’s nothing like raising quality beef and making a profit while doing it.”
Family: Jim’s wife Pat is a retired school music teacher. She still continues to substitute teach and takes an active role in their ranching operation. Their son Aaron and wife Stacey have a daughter Allie. Aaron is livestock production specialist for Purina and has his own cow-calf operation.
Dinklage's thoughts on ICON: “After being a founding member of a business fraternity in college, I haven’t had much time to contribute to any organizations. However, I’ve always supported the livestock industry. When the beef checkoff referendum was proposed, I voted for it to promote the beef business. But when the national organization hired Cybill Shepherd a vegetarian to promote beef for dinner, I knew the whole idea behind the beef checkoff and the use of the money would get corrupted. I attended R-Calf conventions in the early years and joined because they supported policies similar to my business beliefs on a national level without checkoff money support. Then along came the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, a group of cattlemen who like me don’t necessarily follow the “herd” when it comes to our livelihood. We think and do things “outside the fence”. ICON is striving to preserve the independent stockman’s way of life.”
Occupation: Ranches in Ewing; owns JD Printing & Publishing in Neligh.
Operation: Wright is a fourth-generation rancher and his day-to-day operation includes a cow-calf operation with just enough grass to feed the cows and enough cows to ea
t the grass. He is proud his grandfather was a cattle-trader. Along with his son Isaac,the ranch hand, he backgrounds the calves to 600-700 lbs. Wright also sells hay.
What does ranching mean to Wright: " I love putting up hay; I like the baby calves in the spring and enjoy weaning them. There isn’t anything about ranching I don’t like. I’m a fourth generation rancher and my son Isaac is the fifth. I have a huge burden to those before me and my successors coming up to keep this business alive and well. If I don’t stand up for the independent rancher, who will? No one."
Family: Wife Joan operates the printing business with Dave and is also a Registered Nurse. She is the process of completing her certification to be an EMT teacher. Son Isaac has a degree from Southeast Technical College in Diesel Mechanics and works for an uncle as a diesel mechanic as well as helping in the ranching operation where he gets paid in beef. Daughter Katie just finished her first year at Dakota Wesleyan. Youngest daughter Hannah will be a sophomore next year at Neligh-Oakdale High School.
Wright’s thoughts on ICON: "I have been a part of many cattle organizations and in all of them, cow-calf operations are at the bottom of the totem pole. ICON is for the cow-calf producer and only the cow-calf producer; not huge feedlots and packing companies."
|Chris Abbott , Past President & Co-Founder- Gordon, NE
Occupation: Ranches in Cherry County, co-manages Abbott Cattle Company with brother Mike.
Operation: Commercial cow-calf operation; spring calving; weaned in October and calves are back-grounded for a short period; sold after first of year. The family operation hays about 5,000 round bales yearly and uses all in their cattle feeding. He is a fifth generation Nebraska rancher and continues the family ranching tradition his great-great grandfather Arthur began in the late 1890's.
What does ranching mean to Abbott: "Ranching means everything to me. I am a fifth generation rancher and it’s important to me to pass it on to the next generation just as it was passed on to me. It’s in my blood."
Family: Wife Kim is a constant helpmate on the ranch to Abbott and a full-time grandmother for the sixth generation of Abbotts: three granddaughters, ages 9 mos. to 2 years old. Abbott’s children are A.J. who is a corporate pilot, owns his own cows, is a shareholder in Abbot Cattle Co., and sometimes works on the ranch when not flying; Alicia, Carver, and families are both shareholders as well; Alicia’s husband is employed with a neighbor and Carver is employed with Abbot Cattle Co.
Abbott's thoughts on ICON: "Everyone asked us why we started ICON. Why did we need another organization? All the existing beef organizations catered to the large entities. I believe we need an organization which represents the independent producer and that’s what ICON does."
Al Davis, Treasurer & Legislative Taxation Committee Chairman - Hyannis, NE
Occupation: Retired Nebraska State Senator, District 43
What does Ranching Mean to Davis: My family
homesteaded our ranch in l888 and have been Nebraskans since shortly after statehood. As such, I have a love for rural Nebraska and especially appreciate the incredible beauty of the Sandhills. Over the course of my life, I've seen tremendous changes in my community - much of it not to my liking. Many of our neighbors have sold out and are gone and that hurts the towns and villages which we depend on for groceries, supplies, and socialization. The cattle industry builds its entire image around the cow-calf operator, yet that segment of the business is most threatened by current industry trends. If you love the lifestyle, then you need to get out there and work to protect and promote it.
Family: My wife, Dot, and I were married in l992. We have a large,
wonderful extended family on both sides which gives us lots of love and
Davis's thoughts on ICON: In 2005, it was because we did not feel that any organization in the state represented the cow-calf segment of the cattle industry. That hasn't changed as time moved on---witness the recent resolution by the Nebraska Cattlemen to abolish the brand inspection program as one example of the disconnect which exists within the different segments of the cattle industry. ICON has had a number of very significant successes in its short life - due to the hard work of the volunteer directors who have put in hours and hours working to protect and promote the ranching industry. I am extremely proud of the accomplishments which we have achieved since the inception of ICON. Now what we need is more of you to step up and get actively involved in your organization. The directors need help on a number of fronts to build the organization. We need folks who will testify for us on Legislative bills, people who will help build membership, and folks who will sit on committees and put in the time necessary to ensure the success of the organization. We all owe a great debt to our forefathers for building the life that we have in the United States - and on the ranches where we live and work. I feel that you owe it to your family and to your community to try and make the industry more cow-calf friendly. I'm making a pitch for some volunteers to step up and get involved. You'll be extremely surprised at how satisfying this work can be.
|Rod Gray, Region 1 Director - Harrison, NE
Occupation: Rancher and breeder in Harrison
Operation: Registered Angus Breeder
What does Ranching Mean to Gray: "I have been involved in ranching/farming all my life. As a fifth generation rancher, I feel strongly about handing off the operation to the next generation. We have to find a way to get it done and I see getting involved politically as about the best way to to that."
Family: Rod and wife Laura have five children: four sons - Levi, Colt, Heath, Garrett, and a daughter Naomi, who is married to Jeff Pelster. They are proud to be passing the ranching operation over to their children. Two sons are active in the day-to-day ranching chores, one son is a pilot, one son is in high school, and their daughter and husband are just now making the move back to dad's ranching tradition.
Gray's thoughts on Icon: "ICON to me is a grassroots sustainable organization and I have found it to be the only one in Nebraska. I like that. I think we need to take a stand to get things done today and get involved. People need to make a difference. It's easy to stay at home and do the work but everyone needs to keep our business and our farming industry alive. The Ag industry has dropped the ball really badly. We need to stand up and voice our opinions because we have a lot of ground to cover to catch up."
|Roland Paddock, Region 3 Director - Ainsworth, NE
Occupation: Rancher in Ainsworth
Operation: "I am a semi-retired rancher. My family's ranch was recently leased to my son which makes it a fourth generation ranch. When my grandfather passed away, one-half of the ranch went to my grandmother and one-half went to the grandchildren - that would be my two sisters and myself. Our parents purchased my grandmother's share for we three grandchildren and today I manage the total operation for myself and my sisters who live in Kansas City. I make all the day-to-day decisions for the operation but over the years I myself also purchased a limited amount of farm ground with three pivots. We run a cow-calf operation and have turned the farm ground back to grass and use it for calving in the spring. It has proved to be more profitable for us in that capacity."
What does Ranching Mean to Paddock: Ranching is an independent lifestyle; you are on own, your own boss; and you need to be a self-starter, often working alone. We have a good community and good neighbors here and we share help whenever needed. We may travel 40 miles to help with branding and think nothing of it. Our rural lifestyle is one of cooperation and good relationships, enjoying the fruits of our labors.
Family: My wife Rita is a teacher who works as a substitute now. We have two children: Andrew, who is taking over the ranch now and married to wife Christy with two children, a boy and a girl; our daughter Amy lives in Independence, MO, is a stay-at-home mom with one daughter and husband Robert works in a bank.
Paddock's thoughts on Icon: "My thoughts on ICON: I believe ICON does a good job representing the cow-calf sector, trying to promote good legislation which will benefit the family ranch. In my mind ICON keeps on top of many issues for the independent cow-calf producers in Nebraska. I see the founders of ICON as hard-working individuals who devoted much time and energy organizing ICON and keeping it a vital rural voice across the state and in the Unicameral."
Mike Ryan, Marketing and Commerce - Berwyn, NE
Occupation: Rancher and Portable Sawmill Business Owner
Family: Mike and wife Rashelle live and ranch in the
Ansley area raising the “tail end” of their large family. They enjoy spending
time with their 11 children and 8 grandchildren in Nebraska, Kansas and
Colorado. Rashelle is employed part-time as the Director of Religious
Education at St. Joseph Church in Broken Bow.
Ryan's thoughts on ICON: "I looked at several cattle organizations around the state. ICON was the only one that I felt represented the cow-calf producer. Cow-calf operations are the foundation of the United States cattle industry. ICON is working to keep this segment of the industry strong."
Past Board Member
Jim Hanna - Brownlee, NE
Jim was a founding member of ICON and served on our Board of Directors until his death in 2008 Jim Hanna Bio