The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) recognized longtime association member Robert Erbele of Lehr, North Dakota, with an Honorary Membership Award at a special awards banquet during its annual convention in Fargo, on Sept. 25.

Erbele has been an NDSA member and an industry ally for more than 30 years. He was born and raised on the original homestead of his paternal grandparents, Henry and Elisabeth Erbele. His parents, John and Florence, took the reins of the family’s diversified farming and ranching operation from them in 1933. Robert returned to the operation following his post-secondary studies at Sioux Falls College and, later, North Dakota State University, where he was enrolled in the Bachelor of University Studies program with an emphasis in agricultural economics, animal science and music.

He and his wife, Susan, have four sons and eight grandchildren.

The Erbele ranch has evolved over the years, Robert said, with roots in cow-calf and small grain production. The family also raised registered Salers cattle for a time, hosting a production sale for about a decade before converting to the bison business for another 10 years. The Erbeles returned to beef cattle following that venture, primarily custom grazing and feeding cattle since then. With Paul’s, Gabe’s and Shanon’s involvement, the family is rebuilding its commercial cowherd and raising and marketing registered Simmental cattle.

Erbele has served in many capacities in his community, from his time as a director of the Lehr School Board and secretary of the Streeter Farmers Elevator Co-op Board to his chairmanship of the Prairie Bible Camp and as a lay leader and Sunday school teacher for the Zion United Methodist Church.

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Erbele is the senator from District 28, first being elected in 2000. District 28 is comprised of Dickey, Logan, McIntosh, Emmons and portions of LaMoure and Burleigh counties. Since 2011, he has served on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He has worked on many issues important to NDSA members and is a champion of property rights.