After a hearty steak dinner Saturday night at the Cortez Elks Lodge, the Southwestern Colorado Livestock Association and the Southwestern Cowbelles announced their top Cowbelle and Stockman of 2019.
The 2019 Southwestern Cowbelle of the Year is Pam Suckla, and the 2019 Southwest Colorado Livestock Association Stockman of the Year is Johnny Green.
According to a bio provided by the Southwestern Cowbelles, Sucka has spent her life working tirelessly to promote education and the beef industry in Colorado. She and her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter own and operate a cattle operation in Dolores, Montezuma and San Miguel counties.
She was born in Delta but spent most of her childhood living on the Navajo reservation, where her father built boarding schools. The bio states Suckla learned about discrimination as she and her brother were often “the only white kids.” She had to “learn how to fight and defend herself.”
Gov. Bill Owens appointed Suckla to the Columbine Review Commission, the bio states. She was the only rancher from Southwest Colorado among FBI, CBI and other law enforcement professionals.
The bio states she asked the governor why she was on the commission, and he responded that the report was going to degenerate into a referendum on gun control and she was there to “keep them on task.”
“To this day, there is not one mention of gun control,” the bio states.
Gov. Bill Owens in 2002 appointed Suckla to a seat on the Colorado Board of Education. She was re-elected and served another four years. The bio states that Suckla was active in education legislation.
Green, known as “Preach,” has had a long and storied career with livestock, with a specialty in auctioneering.
“He skipped school every Wednesday to attend the Cortez Livestock Auction, where he received his true education,” states a bio provided by the Southwestern Livestock Association.
Green has the “gift of gab” and attended auctioneer school. According to his bio, he cried the weekly cattle sales in Durango; Deming, New Mexico; and Torrington, Wyoming.
Along with the Curry Comb 4-H Club back in the 1970s, Green was involved with the building the Montezuma County Fairgrounds. The bio states Green flew to Denver to meet with the land board and bargained for the land.
His legacy is one of leadership, friendship, family and knowledge of the industry, the bio states.
The two awards were a highlight of the evening festivities of the Southwestern Colorado Livestock Association’s annual meeting.
Lana Finley drew the winning ticket for the annual Southwestern Cowbelles, brand quilt.
Later in the evening, ranchers danced to the musical stylings of “The Vanishing Breed Band.”
Elks Lodge volunteers cooked steaks out on the back deck, and FFA students from Cortez helped clear tables.
A special live auction raised money for the association’s scholarship program. A Navajo rug sold for $1,300. A silent auction featured a Ranch Hand grill guard from Keesee Motors. The amount of money raised for scholarships had not been tallied as of Saturday night.