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Forst is first woman to lead Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association

Terry Forst said she remembers attending the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association (OCA) annual convention and trade show as a little girl with her parents.

None of those were as eventful as the 57th annual OCA Convention and Trade Show where she became the first woman to be elected president of this organization.

Forst said her father, Robert T. Stuart, was very involved with OCA and her mother was an Oklahoma Cow Belle. Her family has long history with OCA. Her cousin, Ellis Freeny, was executive vice president of OCA for 28 years, from 1963 to 1991. Mr. Freeny passed away in June and was remembered with a special resolution at this year's convention, which was held July 23, 24, and 25 in Midwest City, Okla.

"I had a lot of doubts about this when I was asked to consider this position," Forst said. "My initial response was I am not qualified. When I think of all the men who held this post before me, I can't imagine I am as qualified as they were."

Forst said a friend told her that people who live this business day in and day out need to be involved in the industry.

"I am honored to serve our industry," Forst said.

Forst is certainly involved in the beef industry on a daily basis as general manager of the R.T. Stuart Ranch, headquartered in Waurika, Okla., a position she took over from her father in 1991.The ranch covers over 40,000 acres in Bryan and Atoka counties and is home to 2,300 commercial Hereford and black baldy cows, a nationally recognized Quarter Horse operation and an expanding lease hunting operation. Their ranch is the oldest ranch in Oklahoma under continuous family ownership. Her family started ranching in Oklahoma in 1868 in what was then Blue County Indian Territory.

Forst graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1976 with a degree in animal science, completed the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program in 1988, and finished the Texas Christian University Ranch Management Program in 1992.

In addition to her OCA activities, Forst is a director of the Waurika Public School Foundation, serves on the Dean's Advisory Committee at OSU and is on the associate board of directors for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Before taking over as general manager at the ranch, Forst was most involved with the quarter horse breeding and training operation. Forst said this is a complimentary part of their ranch business because they do everything on horseback. They show and promote their quarter horses and stand a stallion.

In 1995, the ranch received the NCBA/American Quarter Horse Association Best Remuda Award. That same year, they had the World Show Super Horse, Genuine Redbud. They received this award again in 2004 with Real Gun.

Forst has two sons, Clay and Robert, who are both active in the ranch business. Clay runs the lease hunting business and Robert takes care of the horse operation.

The beef industry is facing numerous issues, from the "cow tax" to mandatory animal identification; but Forst has one overriding issue that concerns her. Forst is concerned about all of the misinformation about agriculture, promoted by groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

"I fear that we, as agriculturalists, are not getting our story out as accurately as we can," Forst said. "Because we are such a minority and there are so many people in positions of power that have no roots back to agriculture, we need to tell our story. As we get more and more removed from agriculture, those of us in agriculture need to stand up for what we believe in."

That is what Forst will be doing as she begins her two-year term as president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association.

Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304 or by e-mail at richhpj@aol.com.

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