Beef industry to honor its own

Madera County Cattlemen’s Association President David Gill has announced the recipients of the group’s 2017 Cattleman and Cowboy of the Year awards.

Nominated and elected by past honorees, the Cattleman of the Year award recognizes an individual that has contributed and been influential in the cattle industry in Madera County. The recipients will be honored at the MCCA’s fall dinner, 6 p.m. on Nov. 3 at the Coarsegold Community Center 35540 Hwy 41 in Coarsegold.

Cattleman of the Year Buster Berna was born in Exeter on Oct. 18, 1951, to O’Dell and Henrietta Berna, one of five children. They lived on a dairy farm owned and operated by his father and his uncle Doyle Thompson. When Buster was 8, his uncle Doyle was tragically killed at the dairy, after which Buster and his family to move to Hesperia. During this time, his father, taught his three oldest children to ride, rope and handle horses. Buster began his lifetime love of horses and cattle; learning to ride, rope, train horses and sometimes chase burros and donkeys.

In 1964, the family moved to the Springville Horse Ranch where O’Dell worked and where Buster attended Porterville High School. While in high school, at the age of 14, Buster worked in the John Guthrie Cattle Company’s feedlot where he checked and doctored cattle, as well as welded new construction to the feeding pens. At this time, Buster began to work cattle on an as-needed basis, called “day-work,” for Larry Southard and Fred Frick.

Upon graduation from high school in 1969, Buster enlisted in the Army and served his country from 1969 to 1972 in Charlie Infantry Company in Vietnam.

Upon discharge, he married his best friend, Sandra Boesch in 1972 and together they raised three children: Pebbles, Stoney and Justin. And now they have four grandchildren.

Buster returned to work for the John Guthrie Cattle Company from 1972 to 1976, until such time as John passed away and his son, Les, became the owner-operator. After this change, Buster and Sandra moved their young family to Raymond upon the urging of their good friends, Hoss and Caroline Dilday, who knew of a small ranch on Road 800 for Buster’s cattle. Supporting his young family, Buster started day-working for anyone and everyone in the area and consequently met many fellow cattlemen and cowboys. He learned one would work for some people again and some never again!

Shortly after coming to Madera County, Buster leased the Sid Huntley Ranch and bought a few more head of cattle and even tried raising pigs (which was decidedly not for him.) From 1979 to 2004, Buster and Mike Alberta leased the Gadco Ranch, the Blackhawk Ranch, the Rice Ranch and the Folia Ranch and ran cattle for the Jack Swickard Cattle Co. In 1986 and for many years following, Buster and Jim Morgan partnered and leased the Noble Ranch and the Moody Ranch until such time Jim retired for health reasons. Since 1990, Buster has leased the Smith Adobe Ranch, running his own cattle and stockers for Duane Martin Cattle Co.

Looking back, Buster is grateful for the good fortune to have had such a great life with every day so blessed. He is also very grateful to have met so many great cattle people that have helped him and given him a chance. Buster feels honored to be recognized as MCCA Cattleman of the Year and wishes to express his gratitude for making him a small part of the MCCA history and making the life of a simple man so great.

Cowboy of the Year Blaine Alberta was born in 1987 in Madera to Mike and Patty Alberta. He grew up in Raymond. He attended Raymond-Knowles Elementary and excelled in academics and sports. His passion for baseball and ranching started at a young age. His younger years were spent playing little league baseball and learning the ways of ranching from his father, a former Cowboy of the Year and his uncle Dan Harlow who was an MCCA lifelong mentor.

Blaine attended Yosemite High School, graduating in 2005, and continued to excel in his baseball career. He lettered in varsity baseball three years and was a leader in the win for the 2004 CIF Valley Championship. His spent summers building fences, developing water and checking cattle.

After high school Alberta kept his passion alive pitching for Fresno City College and attaining his associate arts degree.

In the spring of 2008, he compiled a 5-0 record and received a baseball scholarship to South Dakota State University. In 2009 and 2010 he got to experience what few do playing Division 1 baseball. One of his most treasured memories was playing in Omaha at Hay Market Park against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In spring of 2011, he achieved his Bachelor of Science in health programming education recreation.

Once Alberta achieved his baseball dreams he returned home to Raymond continuing the legacy of being a cowboy instead of being a coach or physical education teacher. He moved into the Guzman Ranch House.

“Then it was back to business unloading and weighing trucks, processing cattle, running fence, cleaning water gaps and, you know, all the fun stuff that goes with the daily ranch life.” Alberta said.

He describes being out on the ranch with the cattle and wildlife as good as life can be. In April of 2015, he married the love his life, Genevieve Benzie. In the summer of 2016, their daughter, September Reign Alberta was born. He continues to provide for his family following the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He respects and credits all his accomplishments to his mother and father.

Buster Berna and Blaine Alberta will be honored at the MCCA’s fall dinner, 6 p.m., Nov. 3 at the Coarsegold Community Center 35540 State route 41 in Coarsegold.

President David Gill will preside over the festivities, which will feature a hosted bar, silent auction, raffle and dinner. The proceeds will benefit youth programs sponsored by MCCA. The Young Cattlemen of California State University, Fresno, will prepare the choice steak dinner overseen by Dr. Randy Perry, chairman of the Fresno State livestock department. The highlight of the evening will be the Cattleman and Cowboy of the Year awards presentation. Open to the public; for information or tickets call Michele Lasgoity, 217-2985.

The Madera County Cattlemen’s Association works to encourage, support and promote understanding of the California cattle industry. The MCCA sponsors numerous youth programs and funds awards at local fairs throughout Madera County. Together with the Madera County Cattlewomen, MCCA also provides youth scholarships to students pursuing an agriculture-related field in college.