For Immediate Release
Sept. 24, 2016
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North Dakota Stockmen’s Association names Wayne Vance 2016 Rancher of the Year
C. Wayne Vance began his ranching duties at 6 years old, when his parents Carl and Doris Vance moved onto their ranch tucked into the rolling butte country 12 miles south of Ray, N.D. Wayne, at 85, and his wife Marie still call the ranch home today.
Wayne, a 53-year North Dakota Stockmen’s Association member, is the NDSA’s 2016 Rancher of the Year. He was honored with the award at the annual banquet during the NDSA’s 87th Annual Convention & Trade Show, “Rooted in Tradition, Growing for the Future,” on Sept. 24 in Minot.
Growing up on the ranch, Wayne learned the skillset required by ranch work early in life. Today, he and Marie have developed the 300-acre ranch into a 6,000-acre Red Angus operation. For Wayne and Marie, quality livestock, a persevering spirit and community service have remained a constant source of fulfillment on the ranch.
NDSA District 6 Director Dennis Jacobson said Wayne’s commitment to the industry and community involvement has served him well in developing not only his own operation, but also promoting the beef industry in the Ray, N.D., area.
“Wayne is the kind of person who comes to mind when you think about what this award means to the Stockmen’s Association,” Jacobson said.
Wayne spent much of his early childhood on the move with his family while his dad worked on ranches, as a truck driver and for the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Carl Vance purchased the ranch in 1937.
Wayne worked for his father on the 300-acre ranch, helping to manage their 30 beef cows and more than a dozen dairy cows. By age 10, he was farming with four-horse teams. Wayne’s father suffered an injury cutting ice blocks that led to the amputation of his leg when Wayne was 16. The accident put Wayne in charge of the ranch at a young age.
“It was a struggle, but we managed to make it,” Wayne said. “We had cows to milk. You always had your odd jobs. At that time, if you took care of your cows, they would buy your groceries and whatever else you needed. I still had a lot of guidance from my Dad, but he let me make my mistakes and learn.”
Wayne married Marie at the Beaver Creek Lutheran Church on June 10, 1951. The couple set out in the early years of their marriage managing the ranch and taking on work to pay the bills. Wayne owned a 1947 2-ton Dodge truck with which he hauled grain and cattle for neighbors. The couple milked cows and raised beef cattle on the ranch.
As Wayne and Marie continued to build a ranch and raise a family through the years, both focused closely on serving their surrounding community.
Wayne is currently the chairman of the Ray Fire District Advisory Board; the treasurer and a nearly 50-year member of the MonDak Quarter Horse Association; past president of the Nessen Valley Grazing Association, a 20-year member of the Upper Missouri Valley Fair Association; and a nearly 50-year member of the American Quarter Horse Association, in addition to his membership in the NDSA.
“You get to know a lot of people and you make a lot of friends giving back to your community,” Marie said. “There’s a lot of satisfaction in being able to help a community group. If people didn’t put in the effort, it wouldn’t happen.”
The couple, along with three other families, started the Nessen Valley Grazing Association in 1970, purchasing 5,000 acres. The group worked extensively to maintain the association and their ranches through the high interest rates of the 1980s.
Wayne and Marie raised a son, John, and three daughters, Arlene, Terry and Connie, on the ranch. Their 10 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren are still an active part in the ranch.
Quality livestock have been the foundation of the Vance operation since the 1930s. Wayne continues to train and sell Quarter Horses today.
“We’ve got horses that we raised scattered all over the country up here and in Canada,” Wayne said. “There’s too many to count. I still ride some – not like I used to, but nobody seems to ride quite like they used to.”
Wayne and Marie manage 6,000 acres and a 200-head Red Angus cowherd alongside their family. With water in short supply on much of their grassland, the family built seven dams and developed several springs as water sources in the first year of managing the grazing association land. They also employ crossfencing to allow for better grass management on the ranch.
Wayne said he remains focused on taking care of the land and his livestock and never doing half of the job.
“I’ve never had a job where they could fire me, and I’ve always made a living on my own,” he said. “People around here look at me, at 85 years old, and say, ‘Why don’t you retire and go to Arizona?’ I like what I’m doing where I’m at, and I’m not willing to quit.”