Jeff Parker named 2013 Wallowa County Stockgrowers Cattleman Of The Year
After high school, he attended Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon where he received a degree in Production Agriculture focusing on cattle. He was fortunate enough to attend there during a time when a large number of ranch raised kids rubbed shoulders and he learned a great deal from the diversity of cattle backgrounds represented among them. Jeff participated on their Livestock Judging Team, worked for an area ranch, and made many life long friends. He was later humbled to be honored with their Outstanding Ag Graduate Award.
A real opportunity was granted when Jeff was able to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He was active in the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity and was a member of their nationally competitive Livestock Judging Team. He was fortunate to be there near the end of an era when the “Learn by Doing” motto was at full steam. Jeff took advantage of this and was not only able to gain valuable experience but earn enough money to pay his own way thru college. With such positions as Cal Poly’s Feedlot Mgr and Co Bull Test Mgr he was able to get his cattle fix while spending way to much time in a class room. Jeff was the first student ever to manage and implement an A.I. project on the Universities Commercial cow herd. He also participated in numerous cattle ranch projects where the students not only managed them day to day but shared in their profits. “I owe a debt of gratitude for those financial opportunities while a student at Cal Poly, because without them it is doubtful that I would ever have been able to finish there, especially since the cattle industry was in such financial shambles at the time” said Jeff.
Ever busy at Cal Poly Jeff was still never lacking on having fun while still getting solid grades and a good education. As a senior he was chosen by his peers as the President of the Boots-N-Spurs Animal Science Club (National Block & Bridle) and at graduation he was presented the Beck Award for Outstanding Leadership in the School of Agriculture. He was also honored with an “Achievement Award” by the California Cattlemen’s Association, and was given the “Outstanding Senior in Animal Science Award” by Cal Poly. “I’m proud that some of my closest friends in life are from my college days and many have been very successful throughout the Agriculture Industry” states Jeff. “Going forward their collective knowledge has been invaluable”.
Sorting bulls at Cal Poly
After graduation from College, Jeff pursued a career as a Manufacturer Representative in the Animal Health industry working as a food animal specialist. He had the opportunity to travel extensively working “Everywhere west of the Rockies and North of Merced” in nine western states (including even Hawaii) with cattlemen, veterinarians, and feedlot operations. He later worked as a District Sales Manager and Beef Specialist in the A.I. industry where he gained an appreciation for the complexities of genetic models, linear evaluation, and the value of progeny proven genetics. His vision for the future continued to be developed as he collected knowledge from professional cattlemen who shared a love for their cattle and way of life.
The opportunity to again work with cattle on a daily basis came when Jeff left the corporate world and managed two large ranches scoping from cow-calf, stockers, back grounding, finishing, and carcass data to purebred programs with very successful production sales and an extensive A.I. & ET focus. Feedlots to intensive cell grazing in highly productive paddocks with electric fence, grazing in high the desert to rough timbered ground with hundreds of miles of fence on both public and private leases. All with a vision for the future, Jeff was making future plans. In addition to the varied operational aspects were always lots of Angus cattle.
As the Cattle Operations Manager of a ranch then named the National Winner of the “Certified Angus Beef, Commitment to Excellence Award” Jeff gained a huge amount of appreciation for the diversity of Angus genetics. For many years, in addition to running cows and yearlings, Jeff has managed and owned fed cattle while marketing them on some type of grid system. With so much industry exposure, it was only natural that he would continue to develop a vision of the future where he would breed cattle with an industry wide approach, and began selecting Angus females from some of the most well known Angus operations in the country.
Jeff returned home to the Wallowa Valley in the fall of ’97, with a solid background and a developing Angus herd of his own. Within a few years he had leased the land base, operational aspects, and all the commercial cows for use with his own ET program to further the Angus expansion. Continuing the ever constant tide of change and innovation at Highview Ranch, Jeff has now converted the entire cow herd to Angus.
Jeff has been active in the community previously serving on the founding board of directors of a local economic development group and that of a natural resource group dedicated to the interactions of natural resources and the local community. Jeff has also served the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association as a District VP and a past President of the local Wallowa County Stockgrowers.