Meet Missy Bonds: ‘Everything about her is cowgirl’

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Inductees The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame’s 38th annual induction luncheon is at 11 a.m. Thursday, Will Rogers Memorial Center, Round Up Inn, 3400 Burnett-Tandy Drive. Inductees are: Eleanor Green, DVM, of College Station, a four-decade veteran in the field of equine veterinary medicine and the first female dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University; Cathy A. Smith of Santa Fe, N.M., an Emmy-award winning costume designer and artist, whose work in the film Dances with Wolves, is considered the standard for authenticity in Western filmmaking; Mary Walker of Ennis, the 2012 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion barrel racer, who overcame a life-shattering tragedy and a debilitating injury to become the second-oldest woman, at age 53, to win the world title; Elizabeth “Lizzie Johnson” Williams (1840‒1924), who was a rancher and a pioneer cattle trader near Austin, where she earned the nickname, “The Cattle Queen of Texas.” If you go The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is located at 1720 Gendy St., in Fort Worth’s Cultural District. It is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Information: www.cowgirl.net

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At age 8, Missy Bonds marched into her family’s kitchen and announced to her father that she would someday be a rancher like him.

That’s fine, he told her. But first, you have to get a college degree.

Bonds did not stray from her plans. The 35-year-old cowgirl now runs the family business, Bonds Ranch, in Saginaw with her father, Pete, helping the ranch adapt and grow in a changing industry.

Thursday, Bonds will receive the Mitzi Lucas Riley Award, which recognizes young professionals who promote and preserve Western heritage through education and volunteerism.

“There is nothing more idealistic than being a cattle rancher. It’s about doing business with a handshake,” Bonds said. “It’s about putting your heart and soul into work and feeling proud of what you do.”

The award will be given at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame’s 38th Annual Induction Luncheon Ceremony in Fort Worth. Four women will also be inducted into the Hall.

Patricia Riley, executive director of the museum, said Bonds exemplifies the same Western spirit of the award’s namesake, Mitzi Lucas Riley, who made her professional debut at age 6 and performed as a daring trick rider in rodeos across the country.

Bonds provides young girls with a positive role model, Riley added, which is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

“Missy is a real cowgirl,” said Riley, who is also the daughter-in-law of Mitzi Lucas Riley. “She lives it. She breathes it. Everything about her is cowgirl.”

‘It’s a way of life’

Growing up on the ranch, Bonds spent her free time riding horses, doing chores and roaming the countryside. Her grandfather, Bob Bonds, purchased the land in 1933 with plans to raise cattle.

“To me, there is no better way to grow up than being horseback on weekends and after school,” she said. “It’s a way of life.”

Eventually, Bonds studied agriculture economics and finance at Texas Tech University, then earned a master’s degree in animal science and ruminant nutrition. She is also a graduate of Texas Christian University’s Ranch Management program.

Today, Bonds Ranch runs cattle operations in 27 Texas counties and 13 states, extending from the Rio Grande River to Canada.

Promotes American beef

As assistant general manager, Bonds works alongside ranch hands in traditional daily tasks such as training horses and weaning and shipping calves, as well as office work like setting deliveries and marketing cattle.

Bonds also runs the ranch’s export program, building the company in the competitive global market. She helped develop and implement a program for cattle not treated with hormones so they can be exported to markets such as the European Union and Japan. In 2007, she traveled across Europe with the U.S. Meat Export Federation to promote American beef.

Active in industry affairs, Bonds is the youngest woman ever elected to the Board of Directors of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the first woman ever elected to a policy leadership position as committee chair.

Pete Bonds, her father, said he instilled in his daughters a strong work ethic.

“You don’t have to be as smart as everyone else if you outwork them,” Pete Bonds said. “But if you combine Missy’s smarts and her work ethic, she is pretty formidable.”

Sarah Bahari, 817-390-7056 Twitter: @sarahbfw

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