Texas Beef Council’s Wortham Prepares for Retirement
For decades, Richard and Pam Wortham have been integral to the success of the Texas Beef Council (TBC). Both have contributed and advanced programs and projects in their respective areas – Richard as executive vice president and Pam as senior graphic designer. However, Pam was the one who launched a long and prosperous legacy for the Worthams at TBC.
Pam first joined TBC in 1988 and with an art degree from the University of Texas, she naturally transitioned into her role as a graphic designer for the organization. Not long after Pam began working for TBC, her husband Richard also came on board and started moving his way up to the eventual role of executive vice president.
In 1988, Richard started out at TBC doing special projects to help prepare for the May 1988 referendum vote. Richard was informing producers about how their Checkoff dollars were being used, so they had a better understanding of the Beef Checkoff program when they went to vote. When the referendum passed, Richard worked in collection and compliance for a year before transitioning into industry relations where he spent six years. In 1996, when the position of executive vice president became available, Richard was initially apprehensive about going through the hiring process, but he overcame his initial misgivings and ultimately started his 24 years as the executive vice president.
“That’s my evolution at TBC; kind of an odd way to get there, but God puts you on this earth for a reason,” Richard says. “I’ve been able to be a part of something really good and a program that has helped benefit producers.”
Now, after 30 years with TBC, Richard is gearing up for his retirement. Here are Richard’s thoughts and memories on his career, TBC and the Beef Checkoff:
What are you proud of accomplishing during your career?
“In the 30 years I’ve been involved, I’ve been able to see the Checkoff grow from a hope and a promise to actually generating results. Beef is safer and more consistent today than it ever has been, in part to Checkoff research and programs.”
What have you learned most about working with cattle producers?
“With Texas cattle producers, when much is given, much is expected and expectations are naturally high. When you look at the men and women who pay into the program, they expect a program that is efficient, effective, responsive and able to address the needs of the consumer.”
What do you wish producers knew about TBC staff?
"When you have people whom you work with on a day-to-day basis that have the same work ethic, have the same passion, have the same vision – generally, good things happen,” Richard says. “They do their best to come in and do the right thing for producers every day.”
What will you miss most?
“I’ll miss the interaction with the board and staff who want to make a difference and how the team can come together and develop a plan, execute it, then see the results. I’ll also miss talking with producers. They deserve a program that continues to represent them. I tell producers, don't be afraid to ask the hard questions – that’s why we're here because it's not our program, it’s yours. We work for them each and every day.”
What are the opportunities for the Checkoff?
“I see the opportunities for the Checkoff as unlimited. Consumers vote with their checkbooks every day. They vote for food safety, nutrition, ease of preparation, animal handling, animal care, environmental stewardship, etc. – all the things the Checkoff addresses in one form or fashion. We've got a great story to tell across the board. We’re helping make sure that when consumers are at either the checkout line or in a restaurant, they're choosing beef over other proteins.”
Even after retirement, Richard plans to stay involved and up-to-date on TBC and Checkoff happenings. "We invested a lot of time and energy, a lot of blood, sweat and tears to be part of this, and I don't think we can just walk out the door and lose contact with the people and the program," Richard says. "I'll certainly observe the program from a distance, and if anybody ever needs any help, I'd be willing to visit with people."
Words from Friends
“Richard listens and understands the producers’ concerns, then take their concerns through the proper channels. Working with Richard kept me loving my job at TBC for 27 years. I enjoyed our daily morning visits to get a pulse on the day, and our commitment to the industry and the producers we served.”
– Linda Bebee, past vice president of TBC.
“Some of my favorite memories with Richard were the mornings when I would get to the office early for a board meeting, and he was already there with a fire going in the smoker and getting ready to put the meat on just as the sun was coming up. We would have great conversations standing on the back porch watching the smoker, discussing life, the industry, Checkoff programs... I gained a lot of perspective on those early morning chats and will always value his mentorship.”
– Jason Bagley, current vice president of TBC.
“I have experienced, firsthand, Richard’s steadfastness and calm, critical thinking approach to many difficult situations. He has a unique ability to see all angles and possible outcomes in a situation and then calmly direct his team. Because of his wisdom and oversight, good situations and programs were made great and difficult times were made much better.”
– Austin Brown, past chair of TBC.