Two Honorees Inducted Into National Buffalo Foundation Hall of Fame

JAMESTOWN, ND (August 1, 2019) - The National Bison Association (NBA) recently held their annual Summer Conference in Bismarck, ND. During the conference, two individuals were inducted into the National Buffalo Foundation’s Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is housed at the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, ND and recognizes extraordinary individuals whose contributions have helped shaped the world of buffalo. Since its inception in 1980 and including the two most recent inductees, there are 12 historic and 18 contemporary honorees featured in the newly renovated exhibit at the museum.

The Foundation honored Mary Ann Goodnight as the Historical Honoree. She was recognized for her role in saving the buffalo back in 1879 when the animals were threatened with extinction. Along with her husband, Charles, Goodnight was responsible for establishing a herd whose genetics are still in existence today. Goodnight realized that the buffalo were nearing extinction and she urged her husband to attempt to preserve them. They began their herd with three calves, which became the foundation of the historic Goodnight herd. Nearly 120 years later, about 50 head descended from that original herd remained on the Goodnight Ranch and were donated to Texas Parks and Wildlife. In 1997 the herd was moved to Caprock Canyons (TX) State Park.

Donald Beard, the Superintendent of Caprock Canyons State Park, accepted the award on behalf of Mary Ann Goodnight. Beard shared a dream that Goodnight had written about in 1914 where she hoped the Goodnight herd would someday be on display in a park for everyone in Texas to enjoy. “What foresight she had to see that,” noted Beard. “I am extremely honored to be a part of that, to realize her vision and her dream to have these animals out for everyone to enjoy. The animals free range throughout the park and it is a great experience. On behalf of Texas and Texas Wildlife and Parks, thank you for recognizing such a deserving individual.”

The contemporary honoree was Bruce Anderson of Rapid City, SD. Anderson owns and operates Western Buffalo Company in Rapid City. Anderson’s career began in 1979 when his family purchased Ken’s Western Meats. It was a small meat processing plant that they subsequently rebranded as RC Western Meats. The plant mainly processed beef, pork and game, but began processing some buffalo later that first year. Wall Drug, in Wall, SD, was the plant’s first buffalo meat customer, and has continued that relationship for nearly 40 years.

In the late 1980s, Anderson identified a growing market for buffalo meat in the western United States. He understood that with the millions of visitors to Yellowstone National Park, Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, and other public herds, the American Buffalo had a strong consumer appeal. At that point, Anderson jumped head first into the buffalo business and soon after, RC Western Meats changed its name to Western Buffalo Company and the plant began processing buffalo meat full time.

During the downturn in the late 1990s, the industry hit on tough times and Anderson kept the regional business running by purchasing animals he really didn’t need and seeking out new markets. He became a lifeline to many producers, allowing them to walk out the plant’s doors with a check in their hand at a time when there were no other options. Anderson understood that he had the ability to lend producers a helping hand and he did so, time and time again.

Anderson’s commitment to the industry extends beyond his business. As a volunteer on various association boards of directors, he has served as the National Bison Association (NBA) Regional Director, Vice-President, President, Past President, and Chairman of the Board. He also spent time on the Dakota Territory Buffalo Association (DTBA) board, first as a Director and then working his way up to President. He has been the recipient of the NBA’s Member of the Year Award and the DTBA’s prestigious Pioneer Award for his dedication to the buffalo industry.

Always a strong advocate for the buffalo, Anderson attends many regional meetings and auctions and has given countless presentations and industry updates, thus becoming a valued resource in this ever-changing landscape of buffalo production. For years, he has attended the NBA’s lobbying event to Washington D.C. to help build the industry’s presence and discuss issues with policymakers at USDA and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Anderson was also instrumental in helping to develop the NBA’s Commercial Marketers Committee. This highly respected committee is made up of key players in the commercial sector who share information about plant operations, thus making their work more transparent and collaborative so that both marketers and producers can understand and confront issues within the industry.
Without a doubt, Bruce Anderson is a visionary whose years of commitment, service and advocacy have played a crucial role in the development of today’s buffalo industry. As Anderson accepted the award with his family by his side, he noted that he was very humbled and appreciative of the honor. “To quote one of my favorite athletes, Andre Agassi, I can only hope that I was as good for you people as you have all been for me,” he said.