October 31, 2019
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — George and Harry Tjardes, Gibson City, Ill.; Denny Hoffman, Thedford, Neb.; Guy Colyer, Bruneau, Idaho; Mark Cooper, Three Forks, Mont., were inducted into the Hereford Hall of Fame during the Hereford …
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — George and Harry Tjardes, Gibson City, Ill.; Denny Hoffman, Thedford, Neb.; Guy Colyer, Bruneau, Idaho; Mark Cooper, Three Forks, Mont., were inducted into the Hereford Hall of Fame during the Hereford Honorees awards ceremony at the American Hereford Association’s (AHA) Annual Membership Meeting and Conference, Oct. 25, in Kansas City, Mo.
The Hall of Fame award is presented annually to those who have influenced the advancement of the Hereford breed. “We are honored to recognize these individuals and their families for their commitment to the Hereford breed and beef cattle industry,” says Jack Ward, AHA executive vice president. “They continue to set the standard in the areas of genetic improvement, marketing and leadership.”
George and Harry Tjardes
Starting out with 10 cows their father purchased, the late George and Harry Tjardes of Gibson City, Ill., began raising Hereford cattle in 1946 and built a nationally recognized herd. Harry always took a “think before you do” approach, while George was known for “measuring out” every decision for the operation.
“The Tjardes boys,” as many knew them, decided to purchase a herd bull to take their genetics to the next level, which led them to purchase Beau Aster Hervalation 14th from Leland Herman, Wayne City, Neb. George wanted to exhibit the offspring at local county fairs to help put the Tjardes name on the map. Despite not being old enough to drive, George strategically bummed rides to 14 different fairs.
In 1955 the dynamic duo began exhibiting at the Illinois State Fair. The brothers would go on to have a champion, or at least a reserve bull or heifer, every year until 1966. The 1958 state fair was especially notable as the duo claimed champion and reserve bull, champion and reserve female, get-of-sire and best six head — a feat still unmatched to this day. Their national show career peaked in 1975 when they exhibited the national champion female and reserve national champion bull in Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. Outside the showring, George and Harry hosted major successful sales averaging more than $5,000 multiple times in the late’70s, opening the door to partnership opportunities across the U.S.
The brothers each served as president for the Illinois Polled Hereford Association and both of their wives were active in the Illinois Poll-Ettes. George attended the University of Illinois, and Harry, Oklahoma State University. George and his wife, Marilyn, and Harry and his wife, Gale, have raised their children and grandchildren to be Hereford breeders, farmers, rural bankers, veterinarians, ruminant nutritionists, accountants and engineers.
George and Harry were also known for helping young agriculture and cattle enthusiasts. Scott Torrance, Media, Ill., interned for Tjardes Farms and later partnered with the brothers. Scott considered their operation the “golden standard” in Illinois.
“The system and methods of George and Harry, and their drive for perfection have had a lifelong impact on me,” says Scott. “They truly upheld the highest ideals of a man and his livestock. George and Harry were true visionaries and role models for a generation.”
What started as a 4-H project in Redmond, Ore., grew Denny Hoffman into a herdsman, manager and now owner of Hoffman Herefords in Thedford, Neb. The operation includes Denny’s wife, Dixie, son, Jason, and his wife, Kaycee, and their children, Haxton, Kennedy and Hayden. Other family members include Denny’s daughter Stephanie and her husband Randy Myers and their daughter, Shayne; daughter Regan and her husband Curt Hain, and their kids Lilly and Logan; and daughter Jennifer Goodman and her kids Garrett and Parker.
Hoffman Herefords runs 300 Hereford cows, a herd of Angus and a set of commercial cows for an extensive embryo transfer (ET) program. The Hoffmans host two sales each year and exhibit cattle at national shows across the country and are very involved in helping their younger buyers become successful in the showring.
With more than 60 years of active involvement in the breed, Denny began the early part of his career as a herdsman for Stone Herefords, Hermiston, Ore., where he fit several champions both on the “Hill” and in the “Yards” at the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) in Denver. He also judged the national Hereford show on the Hill in 1989. He served on the AHA Board of Directors from 2006-2010 and held a position on the board for the California-Nevada Hereford Association. His extensive mentorship also includes helping several young herdsmen, many of whom went on to be named Herdsman of the Year in Denver.
On a courageous leap of faith, Denny moved the family operation from California to Nebraska in order to grow and to sustain the business for the next generation. Longtime customers Will and Jennifer Harrison from Montague, Calif., note, “We do not feel there is a more fitting example of a gentleman who has built his legacy the ‘all-American’ way through hard work and determination with his family at his side.”
Beyond the Hereford breed, Denny is very active in the beef industry and the Thedford community. His passion for mentoring youth has resulted in roles as a 4-H leader, FFA advisor and Little League baseball coach. Before making the move to Nebraska, he was the CEO of the Intermountain Fair for 17 years and has since held multiple leadership roles with the Nebraska State Fair.
He is known for his personable character and is respected for his honesty, openness and integrity with customers and other breeders.
“[Denny] is an aggressive thinker with their breeding program and is always looking for something different to help improve their genetics, their customers and the industry,” shares Marie Farr. “Denny has a lot of pride in what he does and also in his family. [He] once said, ‘I have failed a lot of times, but I believe you need to get up as many times as you have been knocked down.’”
Guy Colyer began his registered herd as a 4-H project while growing up on his family’s commercial Hereford ranch. In 1976, the same year he married his wife, Sherry, they purchased cattle from the Stone Hereford dispersion and BB Cattle Co. and the entire cow herd from Tom and Ardis Dashiell. Together, they built the ranch and cow herd to what it is today. Colyer Hereford and Angus in Bruneau, Idaho, consists of 300 registered Hereford cows and 75 replacement heifers. Guy’s parents, the late Ray and Bonnie Colyer, began building the Angus herd in 1993 to provide two breeds for their commercial customers.
The Colyers have been producing ET calves since 1983, and now more than 90% of their calf crop is a result of artificial insemination (AI) or ET. Always on the cutting edge, the Colyers hosted the very first Internet sale in 2003 to market their females. In October, they hosted their 18th annual female sale and this coming February, the Colyers will host their 40th annual bull sale. Their main objective is to produce a volume of range bulls, but they are also proud to have produced the world-record-selling Hereford bull as well as four of the six Hereford bulls that have been two-time Denver champions.
A graduate of the University of Idaho’s animal science department, Guy helped start its “Steer-A-Year” program. He was awarded the U.S. Livestock Industry Leader of the Year honor in 2017 by the NWSS. Colyer Hereford and Angus was recognized as the U.S. Senate Small Business of the Month for March 2018 on the Senate floor.
Guy has represented the breed in many capacities, including having served on the AHA Board from 1992-1998. He served on the merger committee during that time and also chaired the nominating committee in 2006. He attended the World Hereford Conference in Uruguay in 2017 and went on a trade mission to Mexico in 2018. Being major proponents of Hereford youth, the Colyers have hosted the Idaho Junior State Hereford Field Day and Show for four years and the Northwest Regional Show for two years. They have also hosted the Faces of Leadership Conference, then known as PRIDE.
Guy is quick to note Colyer Hereford and Angus is a family operation with everyone working together. He, Sherry, and their children, Kyle and Katie, along with Kyle’s wife, Bobby Jean, and their children Piper and Cruz, all play an active role in keeping the operation at the forefront.
“You can find Guy driving around in his Jeep Cherokee chewing Redman while checking on cattle any given day, unless there is a Yankees game on TV,” notes Aaron Wilbourn with W6 Herefords. “All kidding aside, Guy is an example of what I think a good cowman is. His family is his priority and what a great family he has.”
Mark Cooper was raised on his family’s cattle ranch in southwestern Montana and spent his formative years digging in the soil, stretching wire, and learning the true art of growing crops and breeding cattle from his father and uncles. Mark was very fortunate to “learn by doing” and has worked alongside some truly amazing gentlemen, including his father, Jack Cooper, and uncles, Les Holden, Dr. Ray Woodward and Dr. Scott Cooper. Each of these men was instrumental in shaping Mark’s life. Their guidance and wisdom undoubtedly contributed to Mark’s success as a rancher and farmer.
Mark’s love of ranching influenced him to attend Montana State University, where he focused his studies on animal science and agronomy. He returned home to the ranch in 1977 and settled into the day-to-day operation alongside his father and mentor, Jack Cooper. For more than 30 years, the two worked side by side to expand their farming operation, settled in 1914, and to grow their registered Hereford operation, which Jack and his wife, Phyllis, started in 1946.
Cooper Hereford Ranch has been a pioneer in the beef industry since its inception. As charter members of both the Montana Beef Performance Association and the AHA’s Whole Herd Total Performance Records (TPRTM), both Jack and Mark recognized the importance of integrating new tools and tests set forth by breed associations and the cattle industry at large. With more than 70 years in the seedstock business, the operation remains a go-to source for premium Hereford genetics.
In March of 2020, Mark and his wife, Cristy, will host the operation’s 54th annual production sale. “The Cooper Hereford Ranch production sale has been and continues to be a benchmark sale for the breed,” says Mark St. Pierre and Gino Pedretti of Pedretti Ranches. “The Coopers have produced bulls and females that have impacted the Hereford breed since the ’70s.”
Over the years, Mark has contributed greatly to the Hereford breed on state, national and international levels. He does his best to break down walls between breeds and to encourage collaboration for the betterment of the beef industry as a whole, which has earned him great respect from the agricultural community of Montana and has led to his participation on numerous boards. Many young and seasoned producers alike turn to Mark for guidance as he is always giving of his time and humble in his mentorship.
“His high level of commitment to all pursuits, his passion for the agriculture industry as a whole and his personal qualities make him a model breeder,” says Kenneth Coleman with Coleman Herefords. “It is my pleasure to have him as not only a friend, but he has become someone I admire for his immense leadership in our Association.”