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Alex Johns finishes term as Florida Cattlemen’s Association president

After serving for a year as president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, Alex Johns completed his term and stepped down at its annual convention June 20.

He is the first Native American to lead the 5,000-member organization.

“I’m proud and humbled to have served as FCA president this year,” Johns said in a farewell video shown at the convention. “The day after the convention is over I’ll probably go back to Brighton, get back in the woods, get on a horse, relax and go back to what I love doing every day; being in the pasture with cattle.”

During his tenure, Johns implemented a successful social media awareness campaign called #showyourpassion that aimed to promote the cattle industry.

“Our biggest accomplishment this year was getting our story out there on social media,” Johns said. “The passion we share for our cattle is something to be proud of. You’ve done a great job supporting my Show Your Passion campaign and I think we made progress in educating the public on who we really are and what it is that we do. We are the original land stewards; we are God’s cow keepers. That’s a huge responsibility and one we do not take lightly.”

The convention, held on Marco Island June 17-20, included a trade show, plenty of meetings, a sweetheart competition, election of new officers and a banquet, which was decorated with an abundance of Seminole items.

Patchwork filled the ballroom as a large group of Tribal members and the natural resource department staff attended the banquet, Johns’ final moments as president.

Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. introduced Johns by noting the FCA members are great stewards of the land and raise what he believes to be the best cattle in the country.

Alex Johns addresses the Florida Cattlemen’s Association on June 20 for the last time as president. After a year of service, Johns’ term was complete and he stepped down as its first Native American president. (Photo Joel Colon)

“It’s an honor to be part of an organization that supports cattle and an honor to have one of our own to be its president,” Chairman Osceola said. “He always knew his passion, it is what drives him. He puts everything he has into what he is doing. What kind of passion does it take, what kind of drive do you have to have to accomplish goals not only for yourself but for a group of people? As you can tell by the rich history in this room, there have been many generations who came before us and there will be many who come after us. It’s up to us to carry on that legacy. But I think it’s fitting that knowing your passion is what got us all here today.”

Johns said one of the toughest parts of the year was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael and getting displaced cattle behind fences again. Now that his term is over, he realizes how much work it was and looks forward to having more quiet time.

Before he turned over the reins to the new president, Matt Pearce, Johns thanked the Tribe for letting him spend time away from his position as natural resources director to represent the FCA. He also thanked his staff, who kept everything running smoothly.

“Who would have ever thought that a poor little Indian boy would grow up and rise in the ranks to lead a prestigious organization like the FCA,” Johns said. “If you have a work ethic, the desire and the passion, anyone who is dedicated can earn the right to represent the Florida cattle industry. We must continue to share our story and our passion so much that it becomes synonymous with the public that cattlemen and women are great stewards of the land and animals they oversee. The world needs us, though many of them will never realize it. It’s our job to keep up the fight to make sure we are still around for another 500 years.”

With that, Johns turned over the reins, title and responsibility to Pearce, his friend of 30 years.

“In my mind, you are the ultimate cow keeper,” Pearce said.

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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