Dickinson native shares his love for agriculture
A sign hanging above Mitchell Dale’s desk at McRee Ford in Dickinson proclaims that “life is better on the ranch.”
But for the Dickinson native and longtime lover of nature, that motto only captures the half of it.
“I really enjoy — whether it’s a young adult, a child or an adult who’s just never experienced it before — I like sharing the beauty of nature with them,” Dale said.
A more apt description might be that Dale lives for the ranch. The Dickinson High School graduate has built up a healthy list of titles in recent years, perhaps most important to him being vice chairman of the board of directors for the Texas Future Farmers of America Foundation.
“It’s just a great organization,” Dale said. “It allows me to serve young people. It’s a real reward to me.”
Ford Motor Co. recently recognized Dale’s work with Texas Future Farmers of America, awarding him its annual Salute of Dealers Award. The award is given out to a handful of people around the world.
Edsel B. Ford II and four other judges selected six winners from a global field of nearly 65 nominees from the United States, Canada, Brazil, Europe, Asia Pacific, Mexico and Central America.
If a farmer grows crops and a rancher raises livestock, then FFA grows people, Dale said.
“It isn’t just agriculture science education,” Dale said. “The organization is the one place where everyone — whether you’re a high school dropout or the class valedictorian — can come together.”
But, as rodeo season neared and local agriculture students prepared for different events, Dale reflected on why FFA, in particular, is so close to his heart. The reason, simply put, is that he grew up on the ranch, he said.
“We’d go to the ranch and my grandfather would say ‘no matter where you stop your truck, there’s a day’s work looking you in the face,’” Dale said.
Ranching isn’t easy, but it’s also a different sort of busy than working at the car dealership he and his family operate, Dale said.
“I enjoy the lifestyle,” Dale said. “You get to take in the natural habitat, manage the property and land and enhance what’s already there. I also get to share the outdoors with people.”
While Dale actually wasn’t a member of FFA while growing up, he caught the bug shortly after attending a state convention in Houston sometime in the 1980s, he said.
Working with students through FFA, then, is an opportunity to expose the younger generation to the wonders and joys of farming and ranching, Dale said.
Dale is proud of the fact that, of the national organization membership, more than one-sixth of all members are part of the Texas chapter, he said.
In addition to Dale’s direct work with the students in the organization, he also is blessed to have a ranch in south Texas to call his own, he said.
Dale maintains a cow-calf operation, which is a method of raising beef cattle, and hosts several association events at the ranch, he said.
“I always wanted to be a cowboy,” Dale said. “But my wife says, instead, I’m just a boy with cows.”