Nika Nordbrock Discovers Passion for Ranching and Cattle Industry.
She leans against the weathered fence, leather gloves tucked in the front pocket of her faded jeans. She's holding a hefty hypodermic needle while watching a cattle branding. Her wide-brimmed hat shades a satisfied smile.
No one looking at Nika Nordbrock at the University of Arizona's V Bar V Ranch in northern Arizona would imagine that she spent decades as a linguistics teacher in Hawaii and the Asian Pacific.
Nordbrock is a longtime volunteer for the V Bar V Ranch Explorers Day. UACE co-sponsors this annual event at the historic 71,000-acre working cattle ranch operated by the University of Arizona for nearly 20 years. Programs focus on environmental, wildlife and domestic livestock issues in Arizona and the Southwest.
"V Bar V Explorers Day is the type of community activity that is so vital to bridge that gap between ranching and the urban population," she said.
Nordbrock attended the first Explorers Day in 1994 and all but one since. She recalled the first bus ride from Prescott." So many people on the bus had never been on any kind of a ranch." They immediately started asking the Cooperative Extension staffer all kinds of questions.
"I just started absorbing and listening." She soaked up expert presentations on everything from artificial insemination to satellite imaging that monitors moisture in the grasslands. The more she learned, the more passionate she became.
Nordbrock's parallel passion is cowboy poetry, which is how she takes the ranching message to academics. She presents papers at professional conferences about this "occupational poetry" that describes the relationships between the people, the land and the cattle.
"Most of these people do not know anything about ranching – and again part of my mission is to educate people and spread the word. A good way to do that for these academics is to tell the stories put down in rhyme and meter."