2023 CattleWoman of the Year Scynthia Schnake advocates for the beef industry
STOTTS CITY, MO. – Scynthia Schnake and her family have a tradition of raising cattle, at their Schnake Ranch in Stotts City, Mo.
The Schnake family operates a 100-head cow/calf operation and run stocker cattle in the spring and fall. They also raise ranch horses. The horses, Scynthia said with a laugh, aren’t her area of expertise, but she does get to feed them.
In 2008, she and her husband Dustin became active in their local Missouri Cattleman’s Association affiliate, the Southwest Cattlemen’s Association. Dustin went on to become the Region 7 vice president of the MCA, and Scynthia traveled with him to various events. It was during that time when Scynthia realized she too could become an advocate for the beef industry.
“The more and more people I got to know, the more I wanted to be involved,” she said. “The cattle business is challenging, but I love caring for them and find satisfaction in knowing we raise a good product for our consumers. The first time I got interested in being involved is the first time I went to the capital in Jefferson City with Cowboys on the Capital. The realization set in that politicians are making decisions for my livelihood. I thought, if we don’t have a voice there, we’re going to lose that livelihood because the people who want to do away with animal agriculture pull every punch they can to try to shut us down. It was really an eye-opening experience for me.”
Scynthia served on the Southwest Cattlemen’s board for five years and held the office as president for the last two years. During her term on the local board, Scynthia was nominated to a three-year term on Missouri Beef Industry Council Board, serving as secretary for a year.
“I feel like we really need the Missouri Beef Industry Council because we have to promote our products and educate people on the healthy part of beef. Kids are getting so far removed from the farm that if we don’t educate them, they might not realize how important the nutrition in beef is. I think we need to tell our story, and if people respect you, they’re going to ask, and if they talk to someone who lives in the industry every day, they are going to believe what we tell them.
For her work in the promotion of the beef industry at both the local and state levels, Scynthia was presented with the 2023 Missouri CattleWomen’s Association’s CattleWoman of the Year Award at the annual Missouri Cattlemen’s Association Convention earlier this month.
“I was not expecting it,” Scynthia said.
Scynthia had presented fellow Southwest Missouri Cattlemen’s Association member Jim McCann of Miller, Mo., with the MCA’s Pioneer Award, and was on her way to take pictures with Jim when she was beckoned back to the stage.
“It took a while for it all to sink in,” Scynthia said. “I felt really honored. Cattlewomen are so vital to our farms and ranches, and they wear so many different hats. There are so many deserving women, so to be picked by your peers for an award like this is really humbling; it’s quite an honor. I was very surprised.”
Dustin and Scynthia’s son Blane and his wife Brook and daughter Blakely, are a part of the Schnake Ranch. Their daughter Samantha Mueller and her husband Jack live in Throckmorton, Texas, and are expecting the first child. The Schnakeses raised their children on the ranch and her mission to advocate for that way of life for future generations will continue, even though her terms on her local board and the Missouri Beef Industry Council have drawn to a close. She wants to encourage young people to become involved in organizations like the MCA to preserve the farming and ranching way of life.
“If we don’t get some young people involved in the industry, who is going to do it?” Scynthia said. “Young people face such a challenge of even being able to get into the cattle business with prices the way they are. We need to get them into leadership roles and have a say in what their future can be; that’s really important.”
On the Southwest Missouri Cattlemen’s Association board, Scynthia said the new president is a younger producer, as are several of the board members. She hopes the young producers will draw from the experience of the previous generation to promote beef cattle production, and that the older folks can learn from the young leadership.
“I’ll be turning 50 this year, and I feel like I was in that middle range between the younger producers and some of the older ones,” Scynthia said. “I feel like I’ve been able to communicate with both well and maybe get some younger producers on board. I think that’s been my biggest accomplishment during my involvement; getting people in the right places.”
Things might be slowing down for Scynthia with her association involvement, but her passion for her family’s ranch continues.
“We want to make some improvements; we have lots of work to do,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to that.”