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Cattlemen’s Association announces awards

For The Madera Tribune

Madera County Cattlemen’s Association 2022 Cattleman of the Year, Ben Elgorriaga.


The Madera County Cattlemen’s Association announced its 2022 Cattleman of the Year — Ben Elgorriaga.

The Cowboy of the Year is Trevor Waag. The Cattlemen will also award two special awards — Friend of Madera County Cattlemen, Tyson Pogue Madera County Sheriff, and Rusty Lantsberger, Madera County Ag Commissioner.

Nominated and elected by past honorees, these awards are given in recognition of contributions to and influence of the cattle industry in Madera County.

The recipients will be honored at the MCCA’s Fall Dinner, which will be held on October 21 at 5 p.m. at the Historic Buchenau Ranch (26601 Rd 602).

President, Michele Lasgoity, will preside over the festivities which will feature a hosted bar, silent auction, dessert auction, raffle, and dinner, the proceeds of which all benefit the various youth programs sponsored by MCCA.

Ben Elgorriaga

Ben was born to Ben and Alice Elgorriaga May 15, 1950 in Madera. His father immigrated from Enderlaza, Spain in 1921.

He worked herding sheep for his brothers. Eventually, he bought his own ewes just in time to weather the Great Depression. After 30 years building his business, he married Alice, and they had two children, Ben, and Benita.

As the Basque sheepherders stopped coming from Spain in the late 1950’s and labor became an issue, Ben mortgaged his irrigated pasture ranch on Ave 18 and, after agreement with Chevron Oil and BLM, developed his leased pasture ranch on the Westside (between Cantua and Panoche) for cattle selling his sheep in the process. He took in cattle from Jack Harris and pastured them on gain basis.

Shortly after Ben’s father passed away, Ben and his mother continued operating the ranch until Ben graduated from Fresno State College. Not too much time passed when Ben met Stella and the two married resulting in the growth of their family to 3 sons and 2 daughters. (Steve, Peter, Christina, Benita, and Paul.) The family grew but the money did not. They were able to keep the ranch, but Ben and Stella both needed to work off the ranch.

Working for Talbot Sheep Company for three years, and then buying their own ewes, they started their business in the late 1970’s just in time to pay 18 percent interest on their line of credit. Going broke didn’t take very long.

After some help from lamb buyer, Bill Chandler, and a lot of prayers, Ben and his family entered into a joint venture with Schene Enterprises, which enabled Ben and Stella to get back on their financial feet.

Three and half years, and one good banker later (Robert Poythress), Elgorriaga Livestock started business raising lambs and buying its first cows (1990). Not knowing much about cows, Ben went to PLMA in Madera and ran into Bill Clay.

Bill had been a long-time friend of Ben’s father from the time Bill worked for Anderson Clayton as a ranch manager and rented sheep feed to Ben’s father. After Bill found out what Ben was there for, he said “I can help.”

That “I can help” took Ben and Stella from zero to four hundred head very quickly. If the cow had a solid mouth and was bred, Bill was bidding on her.

After five children, 25 grandchildren, and 50 years in the business, one thing becomes very clear, both Ben and Stella have been very blessed and are extremely grateful to the parents, family and friends who have helped them.

Trevor Waag

Trevor Waag grew up showing steers in 4-H and FFA, but what really started his interest in the cattle industry was being fortunate enough to travel to different ranches and sales barns as a kid as well as having pairs and yearlings to go out on the weekends and help look after.

During that time, Waag started learning how to calf rope and team rope for high school rodeo.

Once out of the high school, Trevor went to work for Producers, hauling cattle, sorting and occasionally getting to help auctioneer the sale.

After Producers, he went on to help take care of a couple smaller grow yards, sale barn cattle and a few smaller pasture leases.

In October of 2018, Waag went off to work in Wyoming, which was the start of learning a more refined horsemanship and where he really learned how much he enjoyed making horses while getting to still learn and pursue my interests in the industry.

From Wyoming, Waag went on to Utah to help run and manage a few hundred pairs, until COVID. Once COVID hit he came back to California.

He worked and shod horses until he was hired on to help at the Urrutia Ranch, where he is currently at.

Outside of the Urrutia Ranch, Waag is currently working on building Waag Ranch/Performance Horses, while also trying to one day have the ability to run his own cows, building a solid program that hid soon-to-be wife and future kids can be just as proud of as he will be.

Rusty Lansberger

My name is Rusty Lantsberger and I was appointed by the Madera County Board of Supervisors Oct. 16, 2020, to serve as the Agriculture Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures. A graduate from California State University Fresno with a degree in Agriculture Business and a minor in Animal Science from Bakersfield Jr. College.

My career began in Kings County in 2000 working in a pest detection program and soon moved into formulating rodenticide baits and wildlife damage management.

After four years, I went to work for Fresno County Department of Agriculture as a wildlife damage management specialist moving up to a supervisor position managing the warehouse operations that include rodenticide bait mixing, weed and vertebrate control.

After obtaining my Deputy Commissioner license, I went back to Kings County to served as the Pesticide Use Enforcement Deputy for six years. I went back to Fresno County Agriculture Department in 2018 to take on the role of Pest Exclusion Deputy with oversight of many agriculture programs.

I was promoted thereafter to the role of Assistant Agriculture Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures, before moving to my current position with Madera County.

Tyson Pogue

Tyson Pogue was born in Modesto, but later moved to Coarsegold where he grew up.

He graduated from Yosemite High School and proceeded to attend West Hills College.

Pogue graduated in 2000 from the police academy while also working at The Madera Tribune.

In March of 2001, Pogue was hired by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office. For three years he was a patrol deputy until 2004 when he received a promotion to Detective/Task Force Agent. Then, in 2007, he earned his Sergeant’s stripes and later became a Lieutenant in 2013.

Just three years after Pogue had been promoted to Lieutenant, then Sheriff, Jay Varney named Pogue undersheriff in 2019.

At a very high point in Pogue’s career, he was selected to attend the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy. Within the next year Pogue was appointed to Sheriff by the board of Supervisors. Thus, Pogue became Madera County’s 15th Sheriff.

In Pogue’s time with the Madera Sheriff department, he has held supervisory roles of sergeant rank or higher for the past 15 years and within the last nine years of command and executive staff with a rank of lieutenant or higher. Pogue has also served on various incident commands during several major incidents, wildfires and disasters

Geoff and Tammie Tipton will be preparing a New York Steak dinner with all the trimmings at the annual dinner.

The event is open to the public with an advance ticket purchased for $50 or a table of 8 for $375.

Tickets are available for sale at Evans Feed and Livestock or any persons interested in attending the event can also contact Betsy Cardoza 999-9510.

The Madera County Cattlemen’s Association is a local organization working to encourage support and understanding of the California cattle industry. MCCA sponsors numerous youth programs and awards with the local fairs in Madera County. MCCA also provides scholarships to youth interested in pursuing an agriculture-related field in college.


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