For parents, it’s a heavy burden to dive into that talk. If your kids open up, you have to listen. If they don’t, you have to gently pry without being intrusive.

Cooper david
Managing Editor / Progressive Cattle

It’s no easier when you’re the son or daughter. Your eyes are opening to the opportunities and dreams you can pursue. But you don’t want to be pushed or compelled. Perhaps you know what you want, but you fear losing your parents’ approval.

Decisions and discussions like these are part of maturity and finding your way in life. And for ranchers young and old, they need to happen more often. Once ranchers reach retirement age, the shoe goes on the other foot, and it’s the kids asking what the parents want to do with their future.

purposeToday’s generation of ranchers are growing older – we all know that. A new generation of producers needs to take the reins. The question is: Will they follow their parents’ path willingly, and do they have the tools they need? Let’s face it, ranching is grueling hard work, and it will take a special commitment to turn that sweat into success in the 21st century.

Most who grow up on the ranch love how they were raised. But their concern is whether ranching is worth pursuing for a lifetime. Can they make a difference socially, financially and personally to stay or come back to the ranch?


A few months back, a colleague shared this Venn diagram and related it to how we all view our work. If you hear people describe their job as their passion, but you’ve never been able to say the same, perhaps you’ve felt empty inside about the commitment you’ve made to a career.

Perhaps you simply love what you do, but you’re not sure it provides any worth to society or the community around you.

Or maybe you thrive in your work and know it’s important to society. But you’re not compensated enough for it. (I think for many in agriculture, this is a common perspective.)

This diagram helps us recognize that there are many values to our jobs and careers, and it’s OK if we aren’t standing equally in each circle. There is purpose to our work in any of those overlapping angles of success.

And whether your work is done from an office, a boardroom, a saddle or an auction seat, we are all capable of finding that purpose. That’s a worthy lifelong endeavor for any generation.  end mark

David Cooper