Rising Star Jared Lee: “Our country needs to still see that people respect one another, hold doors for each other, and stand up for the right things because it’s the right thing to do”

I feel in this day in time, we are so focused on progress that we forget about the past and what got us here. So to me, it’s great to see all the diversity in new television shows and in the media. Our country needs to still see that people respect one another, hold doors […]

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I feel in this day in time, we are so focused on progress that we forget about the past and what got us here. So to me, it’s great to see all the diversity in new television shows and in the media. Our country needs to still see that people respect one another, hold doors for each other, and stand up for the right things because it’s the right thing to do.

I had the pleasure to interview Jared Lee. Fifth-generation Florida cowboy, Jared Lee, thinks the toughest cowboys come from the alligator-filled plains of the South. Growing up on a farm, Jared branched out on his own when he was eighteen to show his father he was just as skilled as the best hands in the country. He now lives in Mississippi where he owns a cattle dog and horse training business and manages a ranch with 15,000 head of cattle. Married with five kids, Jared isn’t afraid to fight for what he thinks is right. Jared is one of 12 contestants competing in INSP’s Ultimate Cowboy Showdown, a competition series hosted by Trace Adkins. Watch on INSP or Amazon Prime Video.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born and raised in Live Oak, Florida, the middle son of a fourth generation Florida cowboy. Our house was an old tobacco barn that had been converted into a home. My mom was a stay at home mom that cooked, cleaned, gardened, and mowed the yard and helped with chores. My dad was gone every day before daylight and it was rare he was home before dark. I was raised differently than a lot of people my age. There was no sleeping in, you had to clean your plate, and we had to speak with manners. There was no time out, only spankings. My dad didn’t tell you to do something twice. He didn’t tolerate rude behavior. On Saturdays, my dad, my little brother, Cody, and I would watch wrestling for one hour in the morning, and then it was time to work. Our days consisted of penning cows, checking cattle, mending fences, fixing water lines, and whatever else needed to be done to take care of our livestock. I was raised by parents with a big heart and a firm hand. Honesty, respect, manners, and God were top priority.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was submerged in this lifestyle from birth, but I had my sights set on college and baseball until fall of my senior year in high school. My mom disappeared and my family was torn apart. As I watched my family struggle to move forward, I realized my dad and my little brother, who was born with cerebral palsy and unable to walk, needed me more than I needed school and baseball. In January of my senior year, I decided to start working every day with my dad. I also helped with my brother, Cody. As the days passed, my love for the cowboy lifestyle was realized even more. My calling was exactly what I was born into. I climbed to the top of my first ranch management job at age 18 and never looked back. I had cowboyed throughout school, so I was light years ahead of most cowboys that age.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One interesting thing that has happened during my career is competing in the competition series Ultimate Cowboy Showdown, hosted by Trace Adkins, on INSP. I don’t want to give too much away, but you can tune in to INSP or watch on Amazon Prime Video.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It was just another day at Southport. I was up before daylight feeding horses and cows, drinking coffee and getting ready to eat a big camp breakfast made by Cooksey, the camp cook. As we all sat down to stuff our faces with fresh eggs, bacon and toast, we listened to my dad go over the game plan of pushing the cattle up to the pasture. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to put some good miles on a young colt. We saddled up and got the horses on the trailer. We pulled in to unload, then mounted up to cross the 400 acres. Once we were at to the gate, I decided to take the canal, giving me a little more open ground for the young colt. Suddenly, my colt slams on the breaks and begins to snort. I was almost dumped on my head right on top of an eight foot Florida alligator. By now, my heart is in my throat, but I realize this gator is not moving. I sat there and slowly examine him. His eyes didn’t open and I can’t see him breathing. As I approached the “dead” alligator, suddenly he begins to breathe hard. I launched myself back up in the saddle as my friend rode up on his horse. We had to decide what to do. We had to move the herd of cattle, and people were waiting. My friend had an idea. He dropped his rope and made a nice loop and started to twirl the rope. On about the fourth time, he threw the rope and it landed around the alligator’s nose. Now I was able to run and jump on the gator’s back. Once I had him straddled, the gator started moving through the palmetto patches and woods. The trees were getting thicker. Finally, I was able to jump off and get to safety, and the alligator was out of our way. I learned that you shouldn’t assume a dangerous animal is dead.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I have recently picked up another 400 acres and am in the process of doubling the size of our cattle operation. I’m also in the process of upgrading our horse training and cow dog training facilities. One of the most exciting things I’m working on is writing a book about my cowboy adventures. I hope to be done and published sometime in 2020. It’s called Tales of The Cracker Cowboy.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I feel in this day in time, we are so focused on progress that we forget about the past and what got us here. So to me, it’s great to see all the diversity in new television shows and in the media. Our country needs to still see that people respect one another, hold doors for each other, and stand up for the right things because it’s the right thing to do.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Always tighten your saddle. Years ago, I was riding a colt I had just started and I was ready to take him outside the pen. Because he had been so quiet and good, I let the bit loose some to let him be more comfortable. Suddenly, my older brother came running out of the woods and scared the colt. As he spun sideways, my saddle rolled and he began to buck. I came off and landed on my back on top of a log.

Don’t fight a bad cow with spurs on. One day, I was working a set of Brahman cattle. We got to the last one, and she fought and fought the entire time. She wouldn’t budge so I tried to move her. She changed direction, and she tried to circle the other way as I stepped out. She put her foot on the back of my spur. I ate dirt and she hooked me around and around until my dogs were finally able to help out.

Work hard but don’t work your life away! I was raised to work hard and make something of myself. I spent almost a year of my life working 18 hours a day and sometimes 7 days a week at my first ranch management job. That year I had so much money put back and could get almost anything I wanted, but I had missed out on so much: my brothers’ birthdays, Christmas, my dad’s birthday, and even my own. I remember being so tired that my dad came to see me and he said, “Son, you’re doing great and I’m proud, but don’t work your life away.

There’s always tomorrow. My work ethic is top of the line and for years I told myself not to quit until the job is done. I moved to Mississippi and began managing a ranch for one of the largest cattle owners in the country. I was so set on making it the best that some days I wouldn’t make it home till midnight or later. I found myself missing out on time with my wife and kids. I remember being so stressed trying to be the perfect dad, husband, and ranch manager. One night when I was trying to go back out to build fence in the dark, my wife came to me and said that there’s always tomorrow and to just come to bed! She was right. What you don’t get to today will be there tomorrow.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

It takes a lot of time, money, sweat, blood, tears, patience, prayers, and faith to be in this industry. When I’m teaching others and helping them get into cowboying, the first thing I need them to know is that it’s not a part time deal. When tending to God’s animals and land, you have to put your whole heart into it. But you have to be able to decide whether or not what is in front of you each day can wait or not. The biggest thing to keep from burning out is to remember to keep it fun and even though sometimes you feel as you’re just spinning your wheels, keep your head up and don’t quit.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The person who influenced me the most in my life has been my dad, Jesse Lee. My dad taught me how to work, be respectful, handle cattle, about the land, about the seasons, farming, ranching, and how to pray. He has been by my side through everything and never once was he not on my team. I was 18 years old when I decided I wanted to get my first cutting horse. I had rode many great cow horses but I was ready to find a stud horse for beginning my own breeding program. I had built my cow herd up to almost 20 head, and had found the horse I wanted. The price tag was out of my range, but my dad let me sell him my herd temporarily. I was able to pay for my stud horse and begin the horse program I had dreamed of! As years passed, I bought back my cattle and my horse program had become known all over the southeastern U.S. My dad had faith in me and my dreams and that’s why I succeeded.

Can you please give us your favorite ”Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Running many ranches and cattle operations, I’ve seen people go through all sorts of problems. This phrase has helped not only me get through hard times, but also helped me coach many others through tough times. Sometimes people get things wrong in their life. Sometimes they find trouble getting motivated and want to focus on the problems. But when things get hard, you can’t sit and dwell on it.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

If I could pick one person to eat with and hang out with, it would be none other than the great Tim Tebow. He has been a hero of mine since he stepped up for the Florida Gators. Not only was he a leader on and off the field, he was a Christian on and off the field. In a time when Christianity is ridiculed, Tim used his platform to touch and change lives all over. And he’s been blessed with tremendous athleticism.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow me on Facebook at Leehdc Ranching, on Instagram at jleehdc1105, or visit my website: Jaredleecowboy.com

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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