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Mountrail County Cattleman Chosen as North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Rancher of the Year

The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) presented 38-year member Robert Grant of Berthold N.D., with its Rancher of the Year award at a special awards banquet during its annual convention in Bismarck, N.D., tonight.

Grant grew up in eastern Mountrail County on the farm and ranch started by his grandfather in 1928. At a very early age, Grant began helping clean the barn every Saturday morning with his pitchfork. At 6 years old, he got his first chance to drive the horse. By age seven, he was riding with his father on all the tractors with the job of picking rocks. “I always knew I wanted to farm and ranch, from the very beginning,” he said.

Grant attended Tagus Grade School, just a few miles from the farm, until eighth grade. He then attended Palermo High School, where he met his wife Helen. Following graduation, he attended North Dakota State University, receiving bachelor’s degrees in mechanized agriculture and agriculture education in 1971. While at university, he was active in the Theta Chi Fraternity, Blue Key Fraternity, Alpha Zeta and Mechanized Agriculture Club.

In 1972, Grant returned to the farm and ranch and started buying cattle and his parents moved into town. Grant married his high school sweetheart, Helen, in 1973 and they made their home on the family’s operation. In 1974, Grant bought a half-blood Simmental bull from his neighbor Roger Finke. “It turned out well, and I liked the calves,” said Grant. “The next year, I had the opportunity to buy several Simmental bred cows, so I did.” This purchase turned out to be the start of Grant’s Simmental business and involvement in the breed.

Wanting to learn more about the Simmental breed, Grant attended his first state meeting. “I saw how passionate the breeders were and thought to myself, ‘This is a good organization to become involved in,’” said Grant. He become a member of the North Dakota Simmental Association and the American Simmental Association in 1976, receiving membership number 9164. He served two terms on the North Dakota Simmental Association Board of Directors. Right around the time he was completing his final term, the position of secretary-treasurer opened up and he applied. He held that position for 15 years. “During that time, I was in charge of the membership list and clerked the state sale, among other duties,” said Grant. “I really appreciated the opportunity to meet so many breeders.” In addition, he also is a member of the Northwest North Dakota Select Simmental group, where he has also served as secretary-treasurer for more than 30 years. Grant was honored with the North Dakota Simmental Association Promoter of the Year Award in 2005 and the Pioneer Award in 2009.

“Through the years, we have done most of the ranching tasks ourselves,” said Grant. “We always have.” Over time, the Grants put their less productive farmland into grass and increased their cowherd. Grant put in a grazing system in the early 1990s. “I crossfenced and piped in water,” he explained. “We now have water tanks in every pasture, as I believe good water always helps.” Grant enjoys doing something different everyday, being outside, whether it be working cattle or driving tractor and watching the sunset and sunrise, appreciating the lifestyle he was given. “One of my greatest accomplishments is my cowherd,” said Grant. “The improvement from where I started in 1973 is unbelievable and something I am very proud of.”

Grant continued to build a ranch and raise a family through the years, focusing closely on serving his surrounding communities.

He served as a substitute teacher, Sunday School teacher and fifth and sixth grade basketball coach. Grant is also a recipient of the Honorary Chapter Farmer degree from the Berthold FFA Chapter.

Grant has served on numerous boards, including those for Egan Township, Berthold Farmers Elevator, Berthold School, St. Olaf Lutheran Church of Tagus, St. Olaf Cemetery Association, Palermo Lutheran Parish, Zion Lutheran Church of Berthold, Mountrail Bethel Home, Mountrail County Medical Center, Mountrail County Health Foundation, National Rural Electric Cooperative/National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation Governance Task Force, Cooperative Finance Corporation Forum Committee and Rural Development Finance Corporation. He currently serves as a director of the Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative, the Coordinating Council of Cooperatives, the North Dakota Rural Electric Foundation, the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and the Northwest Landowners Association, of which he is also a founding member and incorporator.

He and his wife Helen have four children, all who are actively involved in the cattle operation. They inlcude Rob (Kristin), Garry (Lori), Rebecca (Byron) Huizenga and Adam (Kimberly) and eight grandchildren, Abigail, Mackenzie, Mason, Marcus, Tenleigh, Bentley, Jessi and Jenni.

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