ARDMORE, Okla. — Noble Research Institute presented Craig Watson with the 2017 Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award during a special presentation Friday at the Texoma Cattlemen's Conference.
The Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award is given annually to one of the 1,600 farmers and ranchers who work with the Noble Research Institute's producer relations program. As part of its mission, the organization provides farmers, ranchers and other land managers - called cooperators - with no-cost consultation services and educational programs to help them achieve their financial, production, stewardship and quality-of-life goals.
"Craig is a small-scale progressive producer who uses all the information and resources available to make informed decisions about his land and enterprises," said Hugh Aljoe, producer relations manager. "We are proud of all that he has accomplished and the lasting relationship we have forged with Craig."
Criteria for the Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award are based on accomplishments within the farmer or rancher's operation, their community service and their willingness to assist other producers.
Watson and his wife, Mori, live in Sherman, Texas, and operate about 500 acres in Grayson County. Initially, he implemented an intensively managed, rotational grazing program on his pasture resources utilizing 120 to 160 stocker calves, depending on the year. With timely assistance from Noble Research Institute consultants, Watson managed and marketed his calves to get the most value from pasture resources as was possible, and with success.
"It's an honor to receive this award," Watson said. "I wouldn't be able to continue my operation without the Noble Research Institute. I sincerely appreciate the Foundation's commitment to helping producers and advancing agriculture. It's hard to put into words what this organization has truly done for us and agricultural producers alike."
Watson became a cooperator in 2000 and an Integrity Beef Alliance member in 2016. He now purchases between 320 and 380 replacement-quality heifers and breeds them to fit the Alliance program criteria while still rotationally grazing his pastures.
"Craig manages every aspect of his operation, always treating it as a business while improving the land he owns and operates," Aljoe said. "He also strives to be a continual student and mentor to others, which makes him an outstanding producer to interact with other producers."
Watson shares his knowledge and experience with his peers in the agriculture industry by hosting educational events for both the Noble Research Institute and local county extension.
As winners of the Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award, Watson received a plaque and belt buckle; his wife, Mori, received a bracelet. Their names will be placed on a permanent plaque that is displayed in the Agricultural Division Building lobby on the Noble Research Institute's Ardmore campus.