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Cunningham family receives 2009 Leonard Wyatt award


The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation presented Jack Cunningham and Jack "Jackie" Cunningham Jr. with the 2009 Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award during a special presentation at the recent Southern Plains Beef Symposium.

The Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award is given annually to one of the 1,700 farmers and ranchers who work with the Noble Foundation's Agricultural Division. As part of its mission, the organization provides farmers, ranchers and other land managers--called cooperators--with consultation services and educational programs in an effort to help them achieve their financial, production, stewardship and quality-of-life goals.

Criteria for the Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award is based on accomplishments within the farmer's or rancher's operation, their community service and their willingness to assist other farmers and ranchers, said Billy Cook, senior vice president and agricultural division director.

"Jack and Jackie Cunningham have the work ethic, the know-how and the flexibility that makes them great stewards of the land," said James Locke, soils and crops consultant. "The Cunningham ranch is what a true family farm is all about."

The Cunninghams moved from the Kerrville-Junction area in Texas, to Springer, Okla., in August 1981. When they came to Oklahoma, they had 70 registered cows, five registered herd bulls and 31 head to sell. "We contacted the Noble Foundation in December 1981. Our biggest need was to learn how to farm and ranch in a totally different environment," Jack Cunningham said. "The Noble Foundation consultants specifically helped us focus on pasture and cropland fertilization, and weed and brush control. It made an immediate difference in our operation."

The Noble Foundation consulting team brought the Cunninghams a wealth of information about soil and forage analysis, stocker cattle health and feeding programs, cattle marketing, pasture management and rotational grazing, as well as weed and insect management. Noble Foundation agricultural economists further assisted in developing recordkeeping systems and risk management tools.

"The Noble Foundation's assistance has meant a great deal to us," Cunningham said. "We've partnered with them for almost 30 years--through the good times and the bad--and I know we wouldn't be where we are without them."

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