Honors Highlight CSA’s 53rd Annual Meeting


Colorado Simmental members recognized a charter member, current active leaders, and outstanding youth during its annual meeting on Nov. 9, 2023.

Oran K. Cunning was recognized with the CSA Pioneer Award. Cunning was one of Colorado Simmental’s 13 founding members who created the association on August 22, 1970, in Denver. Cunning was also one of the initial board members and an early officer.

“We were primarily dairymen and created Colorado Simmental from scratch,” he said. Cunning and his brother, Myron, were numbers 6 & 7 of CSA’s 28 charter members and held membership number 243 with American Simmental.

Membership took its task of developing and promoting Simmentals in Colorado seriously. Cunning, who saw benefits of the Continental breed, was among those immersed in the Simmental activities right from the start.

Despite being only five months old, CSA helped American Simmental host the 1971 American Simmental Association convention in Denver during National Western Stock Show events. Files show that CSA members helped manage the ASA convention for many years.

Colorado also hosted the first “national” all-Simmental sale on Jan. 16, 1971, with 300 head of half-blood or greater Simmental cattle being auctioned in Denver. Cunning said OK Farms had a heifer in that sale, and his OK Farms Inc. shows up as a buyer of a ¾-blood heifer in 1972, and a volume buyer in 1973, for example.

Cunning was a CSA director from 1970-1979 and he was CSA secretary/treasurer from 1973-1979. He, with the help of his wife Joy, coordinated and recorded the association’s business, advertising and activities in its formative years.

The Cunning brothers were in the Holstein business, but their OK Farms also included a cow/calf beef operation and a farrow-to-finish hog operation near Brighton. They initially used Simmental semen to artificially inseminate their Holsteins to make crossbreds. “We had a few half-bloods and ¾ bloods then,” he explained. “We had several crossbred Holstein-Simmental cows in our milking string. We had 130 to 140 head, which was large at the time.”

They also raised alfalfa, corn, wheat, milo, and sugar beets from their Brighton headquarters east to Wiggins, plus farming south toward Denver, southeast to Byers clear to Last Chance.  His brand, matching the OK of Oran K., is an O stacked atop a reverse K. His brand is still listed as active in the Colorado Brand Book.

Cunning, now 87, said he was in the Holstein business until about 40 years ago. The OK Farms partnership was dissolved in 1998. Myron lives in Arizona. Oran and Joy now live in Thornton, CO.

CSA’s Pioneer Award recognizes long-term leadership from our Simmental founders, whose foresight blazed the trail for the association. CSA is grateful for the efforts and formally recognized the leadership of Oran Cunning with its 2023 Pioneer Award in a presentation prior to the Zoom meeting.

Several other awards were also announced.

Pres. Willie Altenburg gave President’s Awards to Paul & Nia Hill and Susan Russell. Paul & Nia Hill of Nunn are active Colorado Junior Simmental advisors, instrumental in the annual multi-breed Breed Bash youth event and assisted in preparing American Simmental Foundation’s bred heifer lot sold at National Western. They were recognized for their extra 2023 efforts with a clock plaque. Susan Russell of Sugar City has served in the pivotal role of CSA secretary/treasurer for 25 years, coordinating all the association’s business, finances, marketing, social media, membership, and events. Her 25th milestone was commemorated with a custom silver brand necklace presented at Fall Focus.

CSA also recognized outstanding youth with scholarships.

Jason Dias received CSA’s Herd Builder Grant and one of two CSA Youth Education Grants. The Herd Builder’s $1500 stipend is designed to supplement Dias’ establishment or enhancement of his cowherd. The second $500 grant will be used for expenses as he pursues college.

Dias, who will graduate from Fort Morgan High School in May, was lauded by Greg Ditter, his FFA advisor, who wrote that “Jason has exhibited great leadership skills and has guided our younger members using his past experiences. He has been a vital part of not only our chapter membership, but also assisting when we have hosted district contests.”

Ditter and Heath Deway, a USDA ag market reporter, also commended Dias’ community activities, 4-H, baseball, and National Honor Society involvement in addition to being a fourth-generation rancher. He is the son of Chris Dias and Raychel Dias of Fort Morgan.

CSA gave its congratulations to Bradie Midcap, who also was a $500 Youth Education Grant recipient. Midcap, who will graduate from Butler Community College in May, is the daughter of Nate and Jolynn Midcap of Wray. She is competing on the college’s livestock judging team. Upon earning her associate degree, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s in animal science and accounting.

“Bradie is an incredible people person,” wrote Travis Taylor, a CSU livestock extension specialist. “Her passion for livestock, especially her own Simmental herd, has allowed her to become a strong businesswoman.” Midcap has many successes with her cattle and swine and in livestock judging. She has excelled scholastically, in addition to community involvement and leadership roles.

CSA also provided awards to County Fair winners who have shown their registered SimGenetic animals into the Supreme multi-breed winner’s circle. During the Zoom annual meeting, CSA recognized Easton Hill for his two Supremes at the Weld County Fair. Applications for county fair prizes, as well as both the grants, may be found on ColoradoSimmental.com.

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