Sixty-one years after his graduation from University of Wyoming, Roger Stuber is receiving the UW College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources Outstanding Alumni Award for his contributions to the cattle industry. This award will be presented to Stuber and other awardees on Oct. 5 during the 2023 Ag Appreciation weekend.
All through elementary and high school, Roger Stuber wanted to be a lawyer. In fact, that’s what brought him to the University of Wyoming in the first place. Stuber grew up in Bowman, North Dakota, on the ranch his grandfather established in 1909. He chose UW because it offered the only program where he could get an animal science degree and start in the college of law without first completing a Bachelor of Science.
Stuber graduated UW in 1962 with a degree in animal science and an emphasis in business administration (just a few classes short of a double major). He was the first member of his family to graduate college. He averaged nearly 20 credit hours a semester and was the valedictorian of his class.
After the graduation ceremony, Stuber’s father asked to ride back to North Dakota with him. About 20 miles north of Laramie, his father asked, “What would it take to get you to come back to the ranch?”
“You’d have to buy me 40 registered Hereford heifers,” replied Stuber. His father agreed without hesitating.
Stuber returned to work on the Stuber Hereford Ranch, and in 1969, he helped put together the ranch’s first bull sale. In 1972, he and his brother Dick purchased the ranch from their father.
The power of electives
The truth is, it wasn’t hard to convince Stuber to come home. Law, he’d found out, did not allow much for innovation, and going over the same cases time and time again bored him. He was more excited about what he’d learned in an animal genetics course that year.
The class wasn’t part of his animal science curriculum. He signed up after a challenge from other members of the ATO fraternity. They had teased that it was easy to get good grades in the College of Agriculture. “I asked my advisor to let me take this zoology class with those guys,” says Stuber. “I never studied so hard—but it did shut them up.”
Stuber suggests current students to take the courses they’re interested in, even if those courses aren’t exactly standard practice for their major. His advisor, Paul Stratton, often questioned the classes he wanted to take, but Stuber says, “I wouldn’t have the success I’ve had today without that education.” From balancing a checkbook to understanding cutting-edge genetic research, Stuber’s elective courses have served him well over the years.
Stuber also expresses gratitude for other aspects of his education. “Looking back, there wasn’t a professor in my animal science program that I don’t have the utmost respect for,” he says.
With characteristic understatement, when asked about his accomplishments, Stuber admits his cattle have been “pretty well received.”
Stuber Hereford Ranch (SHR) cattle have been sold throughout the U.S. and have even been exported to countries as far away as Argentina and Kazakhstan.
Within the U.S., SHR has raised and owned bulls that have been at the top of almost every expected progeny difference (EPD) category at the American Hereford Association.
SHR bulls have also won the National Western Stock Show twice. This competition is based on phenotype, genetics, and aesthetic appeal. In 1986, they produced Grand Champion SR Verdict 455, and in 2020 they won again with SR Dominate 308F ET.
SHR held its 55th annual bull sale in April 2023. Much of the ranch’s success as a genetic leader in breeding Hereford cattle can be attributed to Stuber’s leadership.
In addition to leading his own business, Stuber has also been involved with state, national, and international legislation in the cattle industry throughout his career.
In 1985, the Beef Checkoff program passed as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. Under the Beef Checkoff program, which still exists today, producers and beef importers pay a dollar to assess each animal they market or import. Half of these funds go to the national program, and half stay in the state.
At the time, Stuber was the vice president of the National Cattlemen’s Association, which has since become the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. After the Checkoff passed, four national industry organizations put together a meeting in Chicago to allocate the money. Three hours into the meeting, nothing had been resolved. The organizations couldn’t agree on what to fund.
At the end of another inconclusive meeting with NCA president-elect Jimmie Wilson, Stuber suggested that they write a proposal for a long-range plan for the U.S. beef industry. Rather than fighting amongst themselves, they could focus on what the industry needed, with input from customers up to producers.
Stuber’s contributions didn’t stop at national legislation. In 1993, as president of the National Cattlemen’s Association, he participated in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in Geneva, Switzerland. Cattlemen had a lot to gain if the agreement was passed, including better access to global markets and higher profits due to reduced tariffs.
Near the end of the session, former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy gathered cattlemen from several different organizations into a room. He told them that President Clinton and the Australian prime minister had decided to remove the quota on imports of New Zealand and Australian beef.
As other cattlemen started to debate with Espy, he came over to Stuber and asked his position. Stuber had to think fast. It was 2:30 a.m. in Washington, D.C., and he had no one to consult with. He said, “My organization speaks for the cattle industry. We will go along with you getting rid of the quota, but the reduction in tariffs must stay in place and the in-quota tariff of 3% must stay.”
Espy agreed. A few hours later, he was flying back to Washington D.C. The principles of the GATT would later become the backbone of the World Trade Organization.
Six decades of distinction
Stuber has met four different presidents, served on the boards of several prestigious national and state organizations, and won a multitude of awards over the course of his career. He was inducted into the American Hereford Association Hall of Fame (2014), named Agriculturalist of the Year in 1980 by the NDSU Saddle & Sirloin Club, and received the BEEF Magazine Trailblazer Award in 1993.
Sixty-one years later, Stuber’s unique contributions to the U.S. cattle industry demonstrate just what you can do with a UW education. He continues to own and operate Stuber Hereford Ranch along with members of his brother’s family. He’s still running the ranch, still playing a leadership role in his community, still proving that he can adapt to just about any challenge.