Hard-working cattle rancher finds
his future in raising agricultural awareness
By Maddie Wilson
November 16, 2007 | Ah, February. The snow was deep,
the ice particles floated in the air and the cows were
calving. And Bill Munns was out among it all at 6 a.m.
That's when the chores started on his family's ranch.
Munns and his family woke up and fed the horses and
cows, and laid hay to start the day. Fifty-five minutes
later, Bill and his siblings caught the bus for the
long ride to school.
They returned to the ranch at 3:30 in the afternoon
to the after-school snack Mrs. Munns had waiting, and
then headed straight outside to take care of the nighttime
jobs. In the evening, they went out to the fields to
check all the cows. They looked for cows that needed
doctoring. And during this time of the year, they were
careful to look for any new calves that were born during
the day. They tagged these calves to match their mothers'
and laid more hay for more births.
When it started getting dark, Mrs. Munns had dinner
ready. After a long day of work, the Munns family headed
to bed at 8:30, resting for the next day when they would
do it all again. There was little time to do anything
"I don't remember doing a lot of homework," Munns
said. Somehow, it still got done; he graduated from
high school and is now a junior at USU.
Although Munns does not have the work schedule required
on the ranch anymore, he still thinks about agriculture
every day, among the many other activities and responsibilities
he stuffs into his life. After all, agriculture is the
science of life, he said.
Life is full of many other things for Munns. Take
2007 USU homecoming king, serving as the state vice
president of the National FFA Organization, raising
a grand champion steer, completing an internship with
agriculture in Washington, D.C.; and of course, spooking
his friends every now and then in the "haunted pig barn"
back at his family's ranch. How does he do it all? Maybe
his motto, "Work for what you believe in" has something
to do with it.
Munns' work ethic was acquired by growing up on the
3,000-acre ranch, which might also suggest where his
motto originated. His mother can recount times when
Munns really did work hard for what he believed in,
even if it was just himself.
Bill believes in himself, even when others do not,
When he went to Bear River High School, Mrs. Munns
recalled, he wanted to run for student body president.
But, his peers told him not to run because he did not
have any experience for the position. Even the girl
he was running against told Bill he had no proper background.
But Bill knew he could do it, and ran anyway. And he
"Bill wants to be a part of everything," Mrs. Munns
This included serving an LDS mission, which Munns
said has been the greatest achievement of his life so
far. But his method of paying for the mission was unique.
Munns raised his own small herds of cattle separate
from the rest of the cattle on his parents' ranch. He
kept records on them as he was raising them, and won
production awards. One steer won grand champion in the
Box Elder Fair in 2002. Munns was awarded $12,000, which
paid for his entire mission in Toulouse, France.
Although cattle ranching played a prominent role in
Munns' life, he said it is not something he would like
to do for a living.
"I love that way of life, but it's something that's
too hard for me," Munns said. However, he would like
to have a "hobby farm" someday. Munns said that his
oldest brother Sonny is next in line to inherit the
Still agriculture is important to Munns, and he hopes
it is in his future, just in a different way. Munns
was a member of the National FFA Organization for six
years. The organization, which changed its name in 1988
from Future Farmers of America, deals with agricultural
education. According to its Web site, the organization
"is dedicated to making a positive difference in the
lives of students by developing their potential for
premier leadership, personal growth and career success
through agricultural education." Munns was the vice
president of the Utah Chapter for a year in 2003.
Munns said he plans to use his agricultural education
major and political science and economics minors to
educate the public about beef production and nutrition
whether in the high school arena or in Washington, D.C.
"I would like to pursue a short mini career in ag
policy, working with the political side of the ag industry
back in Washington," Munns said. He said he would like
to work for the USDA, a senator on agricultural issues
or the ag senate. After that, he said he wants to teach
high school for a couple years while he finishes a higher
degree. Then he'll move to university administration.
Munns wants to help people understand the necessity
of agriculture, especially when it comes to family farms.
"You can't grow everything you need in a greenhouse,"
And people cannot live completely off the grocery
store, he said. They need to know where their food comes
from, and whether it is safe to eat.
He also wants to ensure the future of his family's
ranch and promote the importance of the family farm.
Munns said the family farm is disappearing. Farmland
is threatened by higher demand. Land expenses are rising,
and if they rise too high, he said families will not
be able to afford the land and their farms will vanish.
Corporations are buying the land, but the farms need
to stay, Munns said.
"Farming will always be necessary as long as we want
The family farm is important because they have ethics
and values that corporate farms might not have, Munns
said. Corporate farms do not have the "relationship
with the ground" that family farms do.
Corporate farms have some benefits, though. Although
Munns did not know whether corporations make more money
than family farms, they can provide health and retirement
benefits. Munns said his parents will never have a retirement
plan, but they are able to sustain themselves for years
with their ranch.
Aside from his agricultural efforts, Munns was awarded
a USU Ambassador Scholarship, which requires that he
work with recruiting students from high schools and
community colleges around the state.
Munns' life has been full of work, and his future
looks even busier, as he plans to run for ASUSU office
in the spring (he said it is too early to disclose which
office he will be running for). But, Mrs. Munns said
he always seems to make it. Maybe it is because of the
work ethic he learned from growing up on a ranch. Maybe
it is because he has lived by the words "work, work,
work." Maybe it's just his personality.
"Bill spreads himself thin, but always pulls through,"
Mrs. Munns said.