Nick Nelson

The Humble Profession

Blog Post created by Nick Nelson on Mar 25, 2015

Cowboy Logic: "If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place."


A few years ago I was at a livestock sale.  I have always loved the atmosphere, the smells, the food, and the company of a sale barn.  I sat down next to a friend of mine that ran a few head of cattle.  Allen was a tremendous horseman and a good cattleman, but he was as cheap as a seized up tractor.  Allen would never go to a bull sale and buy a bull, he would rather take his chances at the sale yard.  As the auctioneer was making the rhythmic sounds of his chant, a set of two year old Red Angus bulls came into the ring.  The auctioneer started them at 50 cents a pound and Allen jumped right in.  I leaned over to tell Allen that he didn't want those bulls.


"Sure I do, they are Lorenzen bulls!"


At the time, I couldn't think of the procedure that had turned those bulls from functional to non-functional breeding bulls, so all I could think to say to Allen was that the bulls were vasectomized.  Allen responded to me that it was alright because he already had every other disease on his place, one more wouldn't matter.


In our state, we encourage our ag teachers to fill out award applications, but sometimes have a hard time getting every award represented.  I understand ag teachers really are humble people and they sure do not think that they are deserving -- even though they really are.  However, the one award that is the most coveted in our state is the one award no one wishes to receive.  If Allen were an ag teacher he surely would have won this award for his bull purchase.  Now, no one is perfect and if we truly are doing our jobs things will happen -- lots of great things, and every once in a while, some not so great things.  We will spend 15 minutes presenting our mistake award, but only spend two minutes each giving out the meaningful awards.  I, like so many others, get a kick out of this award and I understand the philosophy of "not letting the truth get in the way of a good story".  I think that this process and having these fun awards justifies that we are a humble group of people and that we would rather tell each other about our mistakes than our successes.


It took me a while to understand that the NAAE Awards are not for us.  They are for our programs, our schools and our communities.  I encourage all of you to keep this in mind when you do decide to fill out an application.  If you are hesitant to apply, then think of this: your students put in work right alongside you, and your community supports the program.  They all would be ecstatic if you were recognized at the state and the national levels.  I also encourage those of you that know someone who deserves an award to push them, and if that doesn't work, fill it out for them -- some times that may be the only way.


All NAAE awards competing in Region I are due May 15.  The new system allows you to save your information and upload it when you are ready, and then send it directly to the NAAE office through the website.  The system is very user-friendly, but you must create a log-in account to access the information.  Another opportunity that you have is to serve on a selection committee for our region.  If you would like to learn how to fill out these applications, there is no better way than to evaluate current, state winners -- as well as a way to see the neat things that others are doing.  The NAAE is looking for 8-15 volunteers to serve on an award selection committee.  You will be able to evaluate and score other regions' applications in the comfort of your own home or office.  If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Alissa Smith at I truly believe that we have an awesome profession and that you need to be recognized for your hard work in your program.  Remember that if you don't make any mistakes, you aren't doing anything!