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American Angus Association congratulates heritage foundation inductees

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

To celebrate and honor the contributions of individuals who have gone above and beyond for the Angus Breed, the American Angus Association (AAA) created the Heritage Foundation in 1983.

At the 2022 Angus Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, three couples and one individual were inducted into the Heritage Foundation because of their innovation, service and leadership. 

Over the past 130 years, the business breed has proven itself as an industry leader and expert. Inductees of the Heritage Foundation depict the type of individuals who built a reputation with their drive, ambition and forward-thinking attitude.

From the start of their operations, these individuals set out on a mission to improve the Angus breed and the cattle industry even if they did not realize what the fruits of their efforts would be. This group held the vision and foresight to elevate Angus cattle for the betterment of farmers and ranchers across the country. Looking back, many of these inductees question how they managed to prosper through tough times. 

The 2022 inductees include: Jim and Sue Coleman of Modesto, Calif.; Leo and Sam McDonnell of Columbus, Mont.; Dave Nichols of Anita, Iowa; and Becky and the late Arlen Sawyer of Bassett, Neb.

Inductee bios: California natives

What started out as a small business investment in 1976, Jim and Sue Coleman’s Vintage Angus Ranch has since turned into an established set of diverse genetics with an emphasis on cow families and more importantly – emphasis on the Angus family. Alongside manager Doug Worthington, the operation consists of a 450 Angus cowherd grazing more than 5,000 acres in the California Sierra foothills. 

In addition to their commitment to performance data and maternal traits, the Coleman’s heavily pour support into the efforts of the Angus Foundation to enhance the future of the Angus breed’s education, youth and research. The Coleman’s passion for the breed is clearly shown in their commitment to the Angus female, commitment to the Angus family and commitment to the next generation. 

Montana natives

Generational on the top and bottom side, Leo and Sam McDonnell devote their time and efforts to providing the most predictable and proven genetics available on their operation, McDonnell Angus.

Moving toward trait selection of economic value, the family’s success increased as they worked with breeders toward a common goal – industrywide efficiency. Carrying on what his father started in 1962, Leo managed the Midland Bull Test which has since grown to become the largest performance test center in North America, testing about 2,000 bulls annually, but has since been passed on to his son. 

As Leo and Sam transition their focus to McDonnell Angus, they note the legacy isn’t the business – the legacy is their children and grandchildren. Their legacy lies in the future of the industry. 

Lifetime member 

Dedicated to data – has been the mantra of lifetime Angus breeder, Dave Nichols. From being the first Iowan herd to incorporate computer performance records to intricate feed intake and measurement systems, Nichols has continuously adapted and extended the limits of performance records. 

This immense interest in data led to his heavy involvement in the Angus Herd Improvement Records, Beef Improvement federation along with partaking in numerous research projects to improve technology.

From his leadership and accolades to his dedication to providing customers with a firm handshake and the best genetics possible, Nichols’ investment in the breed and its success is evident in all he does. 

A&B Cattle of Nebraska

For a family who built themselves on grit and resilience, it’s no surprise they’ve relied on the adaptability and performance of Angus genetics to sustain their livelihood. For the past 30 years, the Sawyer family’s main priority has been to produce cattle thriving under Nebraska Sandhills range conditions. 

With a cowherd consisting of 600 registered and commercial Angus cows, Becky and her late husband Arlen, along with their children Adam and Jessica, have worked diligently each day to sustain their 100-plus year operation, A&B Cattle. Dedicated just as much to the next 100 years as they’ve been in the past 100, they continue to create a prosperous future for both the beef industry and the next generation of cattlemen. 

To learn more about the Angus Heritage Foundation and those inducted since its inception, visit

 Whitney Whitaker is the communications specialist for the AAA and Holly Martin is the AAA director of communications. Send comments on this article to

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