A Lifetime with Cattle: Bryan Blinson Honored as CALS Distinguished Alumnus
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumnus Bryan Blinson purchased his first cow when he was only six years old.
“We went to the bank and took out a small loan,” says Blinson. “My payments were $27 a month. I collected bottles and did odd jobs to pay it.”
As an animal science graduate, Blinson’s involvement with cattle has continued throughout his career. Currently, he’s the executive director of the North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association, a role he has held for nearly two decades.
Creating Agriculture Opportunities
Blinson grew up on a small cattle farm in Lenoir, North Carolina, where his parents still live and farm today at the ages of 83 and 85. He helped raise cattle locally, and also participated in showing and judging competitions, including the first junior heifer show at the North Carolina State Fair in 1974. He was also the chairman of the National Junior Hereford Board. Despite being surrounded by agriculture, opportunities to get involved weren’t always readily available.
“I grew up in a furniture factory town,” says Blinson. “While agriculture was all around us, it wasn’t something that was front of mind. FFA wasn’t as active as it is in some places, and 4-H wasn’t really available in my county. I had to find ways to get involved.”
Since then, Blinson has been focused on creating local youth programs across the state while also managing his cattle farm with his wife, Beth, in Buies Creek, North Carolina.
Both of their daughters grew up on the farm and showed animals throughout their childhoods. They both were also on the National Junior Hereford Board, with one serving as the chairman, just like Blinson. Now, his oldest daughter and her husband have a farming operation in Western Kansas and his youngest daughter earned her master’s degree at Oklahoma State and recently began her Ph.D. in animal science at Auburn University.
“We have tried to be involved in the youth programs as much as possible because I feel like there’s an immense amount of importance in those youth programs and teaching young people not just about what the industry’s about, but also how to work and be responsible for another being,” says Blinson. “It’s really been important to us.”
Blinson chose to attend North Carolina State University because he already felt connected to its agriculture community, especially because he had already met several faculty members through showing and judging opportunities. He was also excited to meet more students interested in agriculture because many of his hometown friends didn’t share that interest.
“Getting to a place where there were more like-minded people from an ag perspective was awesome,” says Blinson.
As a student, Blinson was a member of the Livestock Judging Team, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity and the Animal Science Club.
“Those activities were helpful for understanding more about the industry, but more importantly, becoming acquainted with people that are still friends today even 40 years later.”
He still talks to many of his connections in his role today as executive director of the North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association, a non-profit organization that promotes beef and the beef industry. As executive director, Blinson has many responsibilities, but his favorite part is traveling around the state to work with farmers and families. The organization also supports CALS students who are interested in beef production through the North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association Scholarship.
Blinson will receive his CALS Distinguished Alumni Award on Sept. 9 at the annual CALS Alumni Awards event, and he would like to thank the volunteer leaders and dedicated staff at the North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association for their support over the years.