55669 888 RD                   FORDYCE, NE           68736           

Meet the ICON Board and Regional Directors
Link to Board and Directors Map HERE

David J. Wright, President - Neligh, Nebraska

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 eat 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 - 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."

Katie Meyer, Secretary, Region 4 Director-
        Randolph, NE

Occupation: Student, working toward second degree in Ag Education at UNL. Meyer graduated from South Dakota State University in May of 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in General Agriculture and previously earned an AAS degree in Animal Science from Nebraska Technical College in Curtis, NE.

Operation: Family-owned commercial cow-calf herd; sells weaning weight steers and keeps heifers for replacement. Meyer lives on family farm which has been in the family since 1914. She is a fourth generation to live on their farm and a fifth generation American. The family also contract feeds swine for one of largest swine producers in Nebraska. They also row crop corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

What does ranching mean to Meyer: "Farming is a way of life for me--- the only way I want to live. I plan on staying involved in the family farm and one day hope to make people realize how important farmers and ranchers are."

Family: Meyer has a daughter, Hallie. Meyer currently lives in Lincoln while attending school but frequently returns home to the farm where her parents and a brother and family reside. All farm work is completed by family, siblings, and interaction in the neighborhood. Hired help is rarely contracted.

Meyer's thoughts on ICON: "ICON to me is the future and potential of the cattle business in Nebraska. ICON will do---and is doing right now---what needs to be done to keep farmers and ranchers successful. We need to continue to support the important issues for a better tomorrow."

Al Davis, Treasurer - Hyannis, NE

Occupation: 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 satisfaction.

Davis's thoughts on Icon: "When we established 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 it's 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."

Tom Ramm, Region 2 Director - Valentine, NE

Rancher south of Valentine, NE

Commercial Angus cow-calf operation and back-grounding calves. Family has raised Angus cattle over 60 years

What does ranching mean to Ramm: Ranching is a passion for me-you try to raise quality, functional and feasible cattle and still be able to financially survive.

Family: Tom & wife Deb have 4 children and a 15 month old granddaughter. Cassie is a registered nurse & manages UNC cardiology trials group, she & husband Jeff Peters live in Cary, NC; Shelby works for the ranch and also uses his WyoTech mechanics degree in his own mechanic shop here on the ranch; Crystal is in graduate school @ UNL working on her Ph.D. in Entomology, she and daughter Tenley live in Lincoln, NE; Peyton is also working for the ranch after graduating from UNL with degrees in Animal Science & Grazing Livestock Systems. Deb takes care of all the ranch office work, helps outside when needed & works @ L&B Johnson PC, full time during tax season & part time the rest of the year.

Ramm's thoughts on ICON: ICON is the closest organization in the state to the old Nebraska Stockgrower's. It is standing up to the issues and challenges that are facing cow-calf people in Nebraska. Every vote counts so get involved!

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."

Robert & Valorie Jackson, Region 5 Directors - Maxwell,NE



Mike Ryan, Marketing and Commerce - Berwyn, NE

Occupation: Rancher and Portable Sawmill Business Owner

Operation: Cow-Calf

Family: Mike and wife Rashelle live and ranch in the Ansley area. They enjoy spending time with their 11 children and 4 grandsons. Rashelle is employed part-time as the Director of Religious Education at St. Joseph Church in Broken Bow and enjoys raising chickens and gardening. Oldest daughter Erin and her husband Tim Hayes live in Omaha and have two sons, William, 3 and Edmond, 1½ and are expecting another baby. Megan lives in North Platte and is employed at the Gerald Gentleman Power Plant near Sutherland. Jessie is a Registered Nurse and lives near Phillipsburg, KS with husband Jacob Dougherty and sons Hunter age 10 and Colton age 8. Oldest son James also lives near Phillipsburg and works on a ranch there. Twin sons Logan and Blaine live in Ansley and ranch with Mike. Logan works for a nearby rancher and Blaine works for VC Howard Hay Co. Kathleen is in her 2nd year of the Pre-Dental program at UNK. Son, Riley is active in sports and FFA as a senior at Ansley high school. He plans to attend Northeast Community College next fall in the Utility Lineman program. Daughters Falan 13, Brianna 11 and Kerry 7 attend Ansley public school and enjoy sports, 4-H activities and helping their family on the ranch.

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. LINK

Return to top
If you have questions regarding this site, contact the WEBMASTER