In the fall of 1994, Will Williams of Ainsworth was looking forward to graduating from UNL and joining his Dad William full-time on the family’s cattle operation; however, his father passed away that spring. Yet, Will completed his studies in ag economics, with a farm and ranch management specialty, in December 1994 and joined his mother, LouAnn, in caring for the family’s cattle. He’s been doing it ever since.
The Williams’ place is 13 miles northwest of Ainsworth in the Nebraska Sandhills. It came into the family when Will’s great-grandfather moved from Wyoming with his sheep herd and bought 160 acres. Typically ranchers have no love for sheep and at some point the family switched to cattle.
Growing up, when Will wasn’t in school, he was with his dad, working the cattle.
“We didn’t take many vacations and there weren’t a lot of extracurricular activities at that time,” he remembers, but he was a member of 4-H.
Today Will has a crossbred cattle herd of 100 cows and his mother has another 200. Will provides all of their day-to-day care, except for some help in the summer.
Will strives for efficiency with his cattle, managing fertility and maintaining high herd health to maximize the amount of beef from each acre of grass.
"We producers are just doing the best we can,” he says, “using the knowledge we learn to try new technology and if it works, it works and if doesn’t, we’re good about moving on and trying the next thing” to provide the best possible care for the animals and the land.
Will has two children who attend Ainsworth Community Schools. Like him, they are involved in 4-H. Daughter Jenna, 13, makes quilts and twice has earned top honors in her category at the Nebraska State Fair. Jensen, 9, is a member of 4-H Clover Kids. He’s done cooking projects and demonstrations and likes being outside with his dad.
Several years ago, Will was recruited to serve on the board of Brown County Farm Bureau and is currently its vice president. Before he became active, he says, “I didn’t understand Farm Bureau and what it can do for you. It’s a really valuable tool that can be truly beneficial to you.”