Year Inducted: 2011
Newell, South Dakota
Nominated by South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association
The Center of the Nation Cattle Company, owned by Jeff and Kim Smeenk and Steve and Kay Smeenk, near Newell, S.D., was recognized as a 2011 regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) winner during the 2011 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Kissimmee, Fla. The Center of the Nation Cattle Company is the Region VII ESAP award winner and will compete with five other regional winners for the national ESAP award, which will be announced during the 2012 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn.
The ESAP award is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences; the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); U.S. Fish and Wildlife; the National Cattlemen’s Foundation; and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
According to the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, which nominated the Center of the Nation Cattle Company, Smeenk’s 100 year-old family operation thrives on the sustainable practices of stewardship. Not only does the family continue to develop the land for its own cow/calf herd and the native wildlife, but they also actively participate in other associations and programs to educate about innovative stewardship practices. The Smeenk family has taken steps to protect their natural resources while maintaining a sustainable business operation.
Through a dedication to responsible environmental practices and conservation, the Smeenk family has worked closely with NRCS; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks; the South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service; and various other agencies and organizations to improve conservation and stewardship practices. According to a letter of support for the Center of the Nation Cattle Company, Steve Fairbairn, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service private lands wildlife biologist, said it is very evident that the Smeenk’s are interested in running a profitable cattle operation while providing a wide variety of high quality wildlife habitats; improving water quality; reducing soil erosion and controlling invasive wild plants.
Fairbairn said the Smeenks manage the range in a manner that allows them to maximize grass and beef production while protecting the natural environment at the same time. He said the Center of the Nation Cattle Company is a great example of how ranching and wildlife can go hand in hand.