Like every other little boy growing up, Lee Wasland dreamed of being a firefighter and a cowboy. As time progressed, Wasland set his whimsical fantasies aside to realize that his dream was to work outside with his hands when he grew up. After graduating high school in 2005, Wasland headed to South Dakota State University (SDSU) to pursue a career in agriculture.

Wasland's life has been dedicated to production agriculture since day one. He can still remember driving a tractor solo for the first time when he was seven years old. On the ranch are Lee's parents, Larry and Lorene, and he is the youngest to older sister, Lindsey. Wasland's family owns Grazing Acres, a ranching outfit near Wallace, SD consisting of 1,000 acres of farmland and 200 stock cows. Dairy cows were also a part of the operation until 1997, when they sold out after 30 years to concentrate on the beef cattle. Today, the Waslands run 170 commercial cows and 25 Registered Angus females and farm corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.

“Now that I'm back home at the ranch, I would like to place my emphasis on the livestock side of the operation,” said Wasland, who will be the fourth generation rancher on the home place. “I'm hoping to expand the registered herd and to work on being more efficient. As far as production goes, we are nearly at our maximum, and now we can work on being more efficient and better marketing our products.”

Investing in education

Wasland's time at SDSU was a strong investment for his future in production agriculture. In his first semester, he started out as a General Agriculture major, but he quickly found his niche in Animal Science and Agronomy. During the next four, Lee was actively involved in Block and Bridle, the Livestock Judging Team and the Meat and Animal Evaluation Team. He also assisted novice showmen during the annual Little International event at the university. Of his time at SDSU, Wasland says he learned some valuable lessons.

“The judging experience was a really great opportunity to learn more about production agriculture, while having the chance to tour different operations and learn from the state's livestock producers,” said Wasland. “And, the classes offered were great, too. I think Marketing and Evaluation along with Grain and Livestock Marketing were both great classes to teach us how to evaluate our animals value, read the market charts and speculate to where we think the market may be going.”

During the school year, Wasland worked at the SDSU Cow-Calf Unit and the Animal Science Arena. In addition, he also gained great experience throughout his college career through summer internships. He worked at Lone Creek Cattle Company in the Sandhills of Nebraska. He also helped out at his uncle's operation, RBM Livestock, LLC. Both of these ranches gave Wasland an opportunity to be around a lot of cattle.

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