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Red Angus Association of America recognizes more outstanding members

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

During the 70th National Red Angus Association Convention, held in Denver Sept. 13-15, the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) elected leaders and honored outstanding members. 

Since then, the association has announced several more award winners. 

Industry Service Award

Every year, RAAA recognizes an individual, company, beef industry association or academic community with the Industry Service Award, and this year, Harold Bertz of Mayview, Mo. was the award recipient. 

According to an Oct. 3 RAAA press release, Bertz joined the association in 2014 as the director of business development, before taking the director of commercial marketing position in early 2018. 

“During his tenure on the marketing team, RAAA’s value-added options expanded significantly to include Premium Red Baldy, American Red and Red Choice,” notes RAAA. “Bertz accomplished much in terms of strengthening the Feeder Calf Certification Program and Allied Access programs and building a strong team in the field.”

Additionally, RAAA’s commercial marketing team grew to its largest staff in history under Bertz’s leadership.

“Bertz earned the respect of all of those he worked with,” says RAA Chief Executive Officer Tom Brink. “The Red Angus breed is stronger today and better positioned in the beef industry because of his tireless work.”

Leadership Award 

Kim Ford of Bertrand, Neb. received the Melvin Leland Innovative Leadership Award, which is awarded to RAAA members who have had a positive impact on the association through serving in a leadership role. 

“Leadership in the beef industry is customary for Ford,” reads an Oct. 10 RAAA press release. “She served as RAAA president from 2014-16, joining her mother as one of the only three women presidents. Ford received the RAAA John V. Robbins Distinguished Service Award in 2019. She was also recognized by Cattle Business Weekly as one of the ʻ10 Most Influential People in the Beef Industry Under the Age of 40 in 2013.’” 

“Having a lifelong passion for Red Angus, Ford’s leadership has demonstrated her vision to enhance the breed through unselfish service,” says Former RAAA President Melvin Leland of Sidney, Mont. “She was an innovative leader during her presidency and continues to have guided discernment on issues affecting Red Angus and its breeders.”

Master Breeder Award 

The symbol of an American success story and inspiration for cattle producers across the nation, the late George Chiga was honored as the recipient of the 2023 RAAA Master Breeder Award. 

According to an RAAA press release, dated Oct. 12, Chiga was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1913. In 1940, Chiga graduated with a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry from Oklahoma State University (OSU), and in 1942 he received his master’s degree in  animal husbandry, with special mentions. 

Chiga was a World War II Veteran, an Olympic wrestler and an OSU athlete, participating in wrestling and football.

Chiga also established Red Plains Cattle Company on the grounds of the former OSU Red Plains Experiment Station near Guthrie, Okla. with his wife, business partner and manager, Vernice. 

Chiga passed away in 2007 after establishing the George Chiga Professorship in Animal Science to encourage excellence in teaching and scholarship in beef cattle production and genetics.

“Chiga exemplifies the Master Breeder Award. From humble beginnings to becoming an animal breeding entrepreneur, he had a passion for animal breeding principles that avoided prevailing traditions,” says Leland. “His influence helped establish the core values which founded the Red Angus breed.”

Distinguished Service Recipient 

Briggsdale, Colo. resident Kevin Miller was recognized as the 2023 John V. Robbins Distinguished Service Recipient, which is presented to individuals who have contributed to the betterment of services offered by RAAA. 

Miller has been an RAAA board member for one the association’s longest tenures and continues to serve in a variety of roles.

“His tenacity, intelligence, wit and knowledge were desperately needed at a time in the history of Red Angus,” says Ford.

“Among many other points of service to Red Angus, Miller was instrumental in working through the development, beta-testing and roll-out of the REDSPro database, which has been transformational to the membership of Red Angus,” Ford adds.

Advocate of the Year

A true supporter of the Red Angus breed both on and off of the farm, Brunswick, Mo.’s Randy Meyer was named the 2023 Red Angus Advocate of the Year. 

According to RAAA, the Advocate of the Year Award recognizes a special member or commercial producer who passionately expresses support for the Red Angus breed.

“Always promoting the Red Angus breed, Meyer is one of the primary organizers of the Red Tie Event. This elite cattle sale gives several Red Angus breeders an opportunity to put their cattle in front of buyers they may not have been able to reach on their own, while sharing the production cost of hosting a sale,” reads an Oct. 5 RAAA press release. 

“Meyer is definitely a great advocate of Red Angus cattle,” said Bertz. “Not only is he a great supporter of local, state and national associations, but Meyer’s cattle truly exemplify what Red Angus is about – carcass and mother cows. Meyer is a great voice for the beef industry, but Meyer’s cattle speak volumes for Red Angus.”

Outstanding Junior Member

“With a foundation built from growing up on his family’s cow/calf, farming and feedyard operation, Junior Red Angus Member Mitchell VanderWal of Howard, S.D. understands the advantages the breed offers to the purebred, commercial and feedlot industries,” reads an Oct. 12 RAAA press release. 

VanderWal was honored by RAAA as the 2023 Outstanding Junior Member for his contributions to the betterment of the Junior Red Angus Association this past year. 

“VanderWal is certainly an individual who is excited about the beef industry and determining how to best craft his talents and interests into a career that makes an impact,” says RAAA Director of Education and Junior Programs Kim Heller in the release. “In the years I’ve worked with VanderWal, I’ve found him to be an excellent example of the type of young person junior livestock programs strive to produce. His impact will be visible in the programs and individuals he’s interacted with for years to come.” 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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