During the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association 89th Annual Convention & Trade Show, “Leading the Way,” in Bismarck, N.D., on Sept. 15 two ranches were recognized by the organization.
NDSA presented the 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award to Robert and Holly Brooks of Rhame, N.D.
NDSA recognized 46-year members and long-time ranchers Arlyn and Sourey Schmidt of the 7N Ranch as the Rancher of the Year.

Brooks Ranch, Environmental Stewardship Award winner
Nestled between four watersheds in the extreme southwestern corner of North Dakota, the Brooks Ranch strives to be innovative and adaptive to build resilience into their operation and their landscape. The Brooks Ranch focuses on conservation, care, maintenance and management of the environment as they raise their registered and commercial Angus herd. The Brooks family uses a variety of holistic management concepts.
 Brooks Ranch has worked hard to develop water, a precious commodity in their semi-arid region. In addition to fill dams, the ranch has added solar tanks that pump up to 15 gallons per minute.
 The Brooks family was instrumental in the Sage Grouse Initiative, a national effort to proactively conserve sage grouse and their habitat in 11 western states to keep the bird off the threatened and endangered species lists. They worked to improve sage grouse habitat through a variety of plantings.
 They likewise embraced the pollinator movement long before it became popular. They use the same protocol for pollinators as they do for their cattle, always staying off the grass until it is at least in the three-leaf stage.
 The Brooks family has a diversified operation that also includes meat goats, Icelandic sheep, chickens, geese, turkeys, guineas and a small herd of Shorthorn cows used as milkmaids.
 “Across this great state, cattlemen and cattlewomen alike are committed to the care of the land, air and water resources and they take their responsibilities seriously,” said NDSA President Dan Rorvig, a rancher from McVille, N.D. “On behalf of the Stockmen’s Association, I want to congratulate the Brooks Ranch on this special achievement.”
 As the state Environmental Stewardship Award winner, the Brooks Ranch will next compete on a regional level with state winners from South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. If successful there, they will move on to the national competition.

Arlyn and Sourey Schmidt, Stockmen’s Rancher of the Year
 Arlyn Schmidt has been ranching his whole life, other than a brief pause when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1960. He and his wife Sourey, who he met while he was deployed in Iran, ranch south of Crystal Springs, N.D. The operation began as a commercial Hereford ranch. Then in 1970, the Schmidts started to artificially inseminate and introduce Simmental cattle into their herd. Over the years, they have worked their way to raising 50 percent purebred Simmental and 50 percent purebred Red Angus cattle after introducing Red Angus into the herd in the 1990s. They have been in the seedstock business ever since introducing Simmental, and they market their cattle through an annual production sale on the ranch each March.
 Sourey, who grew up in Tehran, Iran, had a lot to adapt to when moving to the ranch. Not only did she have to adapt to living in America, but also to living the ranching lifestyle. Sourey and Arlyn have four children, Douglas, Patricia, Joseph and Zheila, along with 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Their oldest son, Douglas, is in partnership with Arlyn and Sourey.
Long-time NDSA member and the Schmidt’s’ banker Gerald Horner has known the family for more than 20 years. His son has also purchased bulls from the Schmidts, so he has seen firsthand the quality of the animals they produce. “Not only do they do a good job raising quality cattle, they are also good people,” Horner reflected. “Arlyn has committed his life to the ranching industry, and his quality cattle show it.”
 The Schmidts have been involved in the NDSA for many years, and Arlyn was a director for eight years, serving from 1990 to 1998. While a director, Arlyn helped develop the idea for the Rancher of the Year Award. He never expected he would someday be receiving that award, he said.
 The couple is active in their community. Arlyn has been a member of the American Legion, the Medina Lions Club, the Medina School Board, the Stutsman County Weed Board, the Stutsman County Water Resource Board, the Kidder County FSA Committee and the church council. He is also a 48-year American Simmental Association member and a past director of the North Dakota Simmental Association.