Ashwood rancher Jim Nartz was named the Livestockman of the Year at the 55th Annual Jefferson County Livestock Association banquet held Jan. 19, at the Inn at Cross Keys Station in Madras.
Nartz was not able to accept the honor in person, since he was in Seattle taking care of a close friend who just had surgery, but his son Aaron Nartz accepted it for him.
Rod Fessler traced Nartz' background just prior to presenting the award:
Jim Nartz was born and raised in Central Oregon, the second generation on the Ashwood ranch he intends to pass on to the third generation -- his son Aaron.
The 4,000-acre ranch has 200 irrigated acres and some dryland wheat ground, which is now in the federal Conservation Reserve Program.
Not long ago, the ranch had and additional 6,000 rented acres, which supported a 400-head cow herd. More recently, it was downsized to just the deeded acres and currently supports a herd of 150 spring calving cows, with the calves wintered over and sold as yearlings in April.
Through the year, Nartz stressed to his children that their history is tied to the ranch land and the various homesteads.
Both daughters and his son were invited to return and run the ranch.
The ranch has been a way for Nartz to teach life skills to his children and other youth their family have cared for over time. The values of hard work, but also of taking time to have fun when the work slacked off, were all a part of growing up on the ranch.
His children remember being taught that hard work pays off, personal accountability, doing it right the first time, and financial responsibility.
As a family, they have visited and fished in Canada, Alaska, Washington, California, Nevada and other states on vacations after the work was done.
Nartz has been described by others as being very generous of his time and resources. He participates in local blood drives, provides fuel and equipment to others in need, helped raise not only his own children, but connected with other children and guided them through school and to be responsible adults. He would often provide transportation for his and neighbors' children to games and practices.
Restoration work in the Trout Creek watershed is something Nartz was intimately involved with.
While some would view the constant questions and suggestions as a hindrance, many of his ideas were eventually incorporated into the various management projects. His passion was for the health of the watershed and an openness and fairness in decision-making.