Setting out and doing something different from what your family has always done can be daunting, especially in the ranching community. But that’s precisely what Levi Leonard-Gorsuch has done with his husband, Danny, and their entrepreneurial spirit is making an impact.
Levi grew up as part of his family’s cattle operation in Nebraska, with a focus on commercial cattle and a love for rodeo. The family used Hereford bulls, and Levi says the crossbred black baldy heifers often caught his eye.
In 2015, he decided to sell his commercial cattle and invest in registered Herefords to launch his seedstock operation, B Bar L Hereford Cattle.
With heavy use of genetic technologies, artificial insemination, and embryo transfer, along with progressive management, Levi and Danny have built a strong reputation for predictable, sustainable, and profitable Hereford bulls that work in any environment.
And those flashy black baldy heifers are still part of the equation. B Bar L strives to produce quality F1 commercial replacements while continuing to market 25 to 30 seedstock Hereford bulls annually.
Danny Leonard-Gorsuch did not grow up involved in agriculture, but just the same, he is an active leader in their rural community of Juniata, Nebraska. Originally from San Diego, Danny moved to Denver for college and pursued a medical degree.
That journey led to pediatric residency training in Florida and studying pediatric critical care medicine at Yale University. In 2011, he moved to Nebraska with the hopes of having closer connections to a ranching lifestyle. He met Levi, they bought some cattle, and as they say, the rest is history.
Today, in addition to his role in the cattle operation, Danny serves as a pediatrician and pediatric hospitalist in their rural community and region of Nebraska.
“As a provider in a rural area, you have to be both confident and self-reliant on your clinical skills and remain up to date on current evidence-based medical practices,” Danny says.
Danny’s focus on making an impact leads him to remain involved in clinical research. In 2020, he conducted research in vaccine trials for pediatric patients and describes it as some of the most meaningful and rewarding work he has ever done.
“Participating in the scientific process of vaccine development, from study design to bedside care of sick children, has enriched my vocation as a physician in incredible ways,” he says.
As Levi and Danny describe it, seedstock cattle is still a people business, and they understand the importance of a social media presence to connect with customers. People want to know who they are buying from. Showcasing daily life on the ranch through digital channels is an integral part of the business at B Bar L.
The couple often shares how they prioritize sound management and quality genetic selection in their herd, alongside entertainment in quick videos from the ranch.
Through that online presence, their passion for being involved as leaders and mentors for local youth shines through.
Levi has coached high school volleyball for more than 10 years and says giving kids the tools to reach their full potential is what the role is all about. His mentorship of student-athletes extends beyond the court through club volleyball and camps in the offseason or hosting team dinners at their ranch.
When Danny isn’t working as a pediatrician and attending volleyball games, he serves as a clinical director for the health department, overseeing all state policies concerning pediatric patients’ public health.
Inclusion in rural community
While rural communities may not always have a reputation for being the most inclusive spaces for diverse people, Levi and Danny share that they have always been well-received in their community as a gay couple.
“We pride ourselves on being responsible neighbors, supporting community enrichment endeavors, acting as child advocates, and leading by example both on and off the ranch,” they said. “We are a safe space for anyone to land, and we take pride in that.”
For other LGBTQ+ people in rural communities, Levi and Danny encourage others to remember you’re enriching your community by living there and being involved.
Being gay does not restrict you to a life in the city; you can exist as yourself in rural life. Levi and Danny advise, “When the world frowns at you, respond with a smile and live your life unapologetically as yourself. People will learn to love you to the extent that you love yourself.”
As for those in rural communities who want to be allies, Levi and Danny encourage leading discussions about LGBTQ+ issues and people candidly and working to understand and advocate for the broad spectrum of people who are part of your community.
Ryan Goodman is a longtime advocate for livestock production and the people who make up the cattle industry. In addition to his Virginia farm family, he’s an avid trail and ultrarunner, proudly showing how beef can be an important part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Find Ryan on social media as @BeefRunner.
This article was published in partnership with American Farmland Trust.