Jean Schwieder


What is a ‘professional, and what qualifies one as such? In checking I find that a “professional” is a person who is: competent; efficient; experienced; licensed; qualified, and skillful. I wondered about my friends’ use of the word “professional.” And if we perhaps think differently.

It brought to mind an incident that happened to Boyd, my husband, when he was in a leadership position with US Wheat Associates. He was at a meeting in Boise and was walking from his motel room to the meeting site. A young woman was walking the same direction toward Boise High School, came up to him and asked what he was doing and where he was going. When he told her about the meeting she asked him what he did. Boyd in turn asked her what she thought he did. He was dressed in a suit, white shirt, and tie and was carrying a brief case. She thought for a minute and guessed probably a doctor or a lawyer. When he told her he was a farmer/rancher she looked him up and down with unbelief. Yes, Boyd looked and acted very “professional” when he was talking to that young girl.

In comparison, a week ago we spent a day branding our new calves before transporting them and their moms to summer pasture. That day Boyd had on his oldest shoes, baggy coveralls, a billed hat and gloves. Did he look professional? He was dressed appropriately for the task he was doing. All the other helpers were dressed similarly. A acted professional in doing their assigned jobs whether it was moving calves down the runway to the chute, to the person with a syringe ready to give the calf a shot or the person heating and applying the brand in the proper place on the calf. They all worked as a team and worked hard.

When the last calf came down the runway to the chute and was branded and castrated if it was a bull calf, then everyone helped clean up the area. They returned the meds and syringes back to the proper containers; shut gates; checked that calves were back with their moms; and at the same time the crew were are visiting and relieved to have finished a hard but necessary job.

They washed up and came into the house to eat. And in my mind they acted as “professional” as could be: courteous; polite; and appreciative.

Are these farmers and ranchers appreciated and accepted as professionals? Not according to my classmate, they didn’t have the suit and tie or a doctor’s white jacket on to signify professionalism.

My friend, and I still consider her a friend, perhaps used the wrong terminology for what she aspired for her children to become. Although I’m pretty sure they all went on to get a degree and maybe doctorate, those things don’t necessary make a person better than any other. Boyd got a degree in Animal Science at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. He taught school for over 20 years during the time when male teachers wore suits and ties, and he worked toward getting his Master’s Degree in education. After his retirement from teaching he went to farming/ranching full time plus progressed in leadership opportunities in agriculture serving on different boards and as Chairman of US Wheat Associates, a worldwide organization; plus visited many foreign countries as a representative of United States Grain Producers. He can put on the fancy clothes and meet with dignitaries and also wear the work clothes and take care of new born calves or greasy broken equipment. In my mind, he is indeed a

professional. Our seven children all have strong work ethics and are able to provide for themselves. Boyd’s example probably had a hand in inspiring this in them. What more should we ask for?

Let’s be careful about putting labels on people, either good or bad, without thinking of what they have and are accomplishing! There is honor in all work done honestly.

Reach Jean Schwieder at 208-522-8098 or

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