Atkinson named 2024 Angus Herdsman of the Year

American Angus Association recognizes Cole Atkinson of Conley Cattle as the 2024 Angus Herdsman of the Year, which is selected through a peer-voting process. (Photo courtesy of Angus Communications.)

In an elite field, where stockmen have tremendous respect for one another’s character and their craft, there’s the Herdsman of the Year award and the 2024 winner: Cole Atkinson of Conley Cattle.

The award was recently presented on at Cattlemen’s Congress in Oklahoma City by the American Angus Association. After his initial shock of the announcement had passed, Atkinson credited his success to those who work alongside him.

“You’re only as good as the people around you, and I’ve got the best crew around,” he said.

Atkinson from Sulphur, Oklahoma said he was surprised to be selected as Herdsman of the Year because of the caliber of other nominees. They were Miles Shout, Express Ranches; Dillon Stertzbach, Stertzbach Cattle Company; and Greg Van Zee, Udell Cattle Company.

The 2024 nominees were slated by a committee of previous award winners, based on their devotion and skills spent improving a specific herd and the Angus breed.

Atkinson began as a herdsman at Conley Cattle in May of 2019. There he is involved in all aspects of the ranch but spends most of his time managing the show barn, preparing cattle to show or sell. Conley Cattle hosts three sales a year, a fall and spring female production sale and a bull sale every February. Aside from sales, they manage around 250 Angus cows.  

Before starting at Conley Cattle, Atkinson received his associate’s from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and bachelor’s from Oklahoma State University in agricultural business.  

Each year, Atkinson said he enjoys attending the Roll of Victory Angus shows and other major shows. In 2023, he had the Champion and Reserve Angus females at Cattlemen’s Congress, and the heifer went on to be Supreme Champion Female at that show. One of Atkinson’s most valued accomplishments was having the ROV Show Heifer and Show Bull of the year for the 2022-2023 season.  

Peers select the Herdsman of the Year award winner through voting, hosted by the association. 

“Last year we revamped and elevated the Herdsman of the Year selection process,” said Caitlyn Brandt, director of events and junior activities. “Since then, we’ve seen an increase in voting participation and an increase in anticipation for the results.”

To be eligible to vote, exhibitors must have entered at least one of the following shows in 2023: Cattlemen’s Congress, National Western Stock Show, Western National Angus Futurity, Atlantic National, American Royal or North American International Livestock Exposition.

Atkinson says there are many driving factors for why he is involved with the Angus breed.

“The competition in the Angus breed is the highest level and sets the bar for the other breeds,” he said.

In addition to being detail-oriented and customer-minded, he said, “I’m also very driven by helping the youth. I truly enjoy helping the kids, especially looking back at role models I had as a kid that got me involved in the Angus breed and to where I’m at today.”

To learn more about Atkinson or the other three 2024 Angus Herdsman of the Year candidates, visit