For the first time ever in Story County, a woman has won the annual Story County Cattleman of the Year award.
Nancy Couser of Nevada, wife of 1997 Cattleman of the Year recipient Bill Couser, was named the 2014 recipient of the award at the Story County Cattlemen’s Association’s annual banquet, held at the Quality Inn in Ames.
Nancy, who had no idea that she was winning the award, was stunned when her name was announced. As she listened to award presenter Gene Rouse read about this year’s recipient prior to naming her, she said she was getting confused. Rouse said the recipient had hosted all the United States secretaries of agriculture at their farm – something she and her husband Bill had done this past year. "I thought, Bill has already won this; who is this?"
However, it was Nancy’s turn in the spotlight. This "town girl," who grew up in Union, was a horsewoman who was hired at age 15 by her best friend’s dad, Jay Hadley, a cow/calf operator in Hardin County. Hadley needed a person with horseback experience to help herd cows.
"I knew I liked horses; I didn’t know I liked cows," Nancy said.
Then she ended up marrying a cattle farmer and their life has revolved very much around the cattle industry. Nancy, like her husband, has been involved in the cattlemen’s organizations at the local, state and national levels. Nancy serves on the state Environmenal Protection Commission, as an appointee of the governor, for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
She was recognized for her involvement with the Story County Fair Board, as well. She was described by Rouse as a soft-spoken person with good ideas, and a key player, who is always at work behind the scenes.
On hand to see her win the award were her husband, their son Tim and her best friend, Jean Barkema, making the evening a very special one.
"It’s very much an honor," Nancy said, as she held the plaque that before this has always been in the hands of men. "We do love our industry, and it’s been good to us."