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Red Angus Pioneer Breeder honored


Leland Red Angus of Sidney, Mont., received the 2011 Red Angus Association of America Pioneer Breeder of the Year Award at the Red Angus National Convention in Durham, N.C., Sept. 15 to 16. Frank Wedel of Leoti, Kan., and Kenda Ponder, RAAA member services director of Denton, Texas, presented the award to Melvin and Luella Leland.

"Melvin's greatest contribution to the RAAA has been his leadership in initiating the breed's first Strategic Planning session that provided the Association with a roadmap for the future," said Wedel. Melvin served on RAAA's board of directors and was elected president in 1992. In 1993, he chaired the first Strategic Planning Committee--a post he would man for the next 17 years. In 2011, Leland began the process of handing over the reins to long-time Red Angus breeder, Butch Schuler of Bridgeport, Neb.

"Melvin could not have accomplished so much without support at home," said Ponder. "Luella's patience, support, hard work, faith and love enabled Melvin to be an industry leader with a support system like no other." In addition to handling the ranch's bookkeeping, records, registration and transfers, Luella plays an integral role in the day-to-day operations along with son Todd and his wife Karla, who are partners in the operation.

Lelands' other children, Tracey and husband Steve Koester, and Tana and husband J.J. Hovde, are also involved in the ranch. Koesters ranch near Steele, N.D., and raise fall-born bulls that are marketed through the Leland sale. Hovdes live near Sidney, Mont., where J.J. is a partner in a veterinary practice.

Lelands have five grandchildren who help at the ranch: Kacey and Shaye Koester, and Trista, Wacey and Cedar Hovde. Everyone in the family plays a role on sale day whether it is clerking, customer service, handling phone bids or running tickets to the office.

Tony Leland, Melvin's father, staked his claim on the homestead in 1911. He passed away in 1948 leaving his wife, Mary, with three small children and a ranch to run. Melvin and Luella married in 1967 and took over the ranch. They introduced Red Angus bulls to their commercial operation that evolved into Leland Red Angus Ranch.

Lelands sold bulls by private treaty until 1984 when they started hosting an annual production sale each March. "Lelands' commitment to excellence has never wavered," said Wedel. "Their only goal was to provide commercial cattlemen with the best genetics available which is attested to by the number of dedicated customers that return to the sale year after year."

Many of the active programs at RAAA were born during Leland's tenure as chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee--Total Herd Reporting, the Feeder Calf Certification Program, Pro-Cow, Grid Master Awards, multi-breed EPDs, Young Guns symposium and the goal to maintain adequate financial reserves for the Association. Leland also helped institute prayer before each board meeting to ask for guidance in making decisions for the RAAA.

Leland's leadership has not been confined to the Red Angus breed. He was a director and president of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association, and currently serves on the N.D. Board of Animal Health where he is chairman.

"Lelands take pride in the traditional ranch lifestyle which embraces family, stewardship and excellent service to their customers," said Ponder. "They understand the need to provide leadership to the industry that is their livelihood."

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