Merlyn Carlson was born February 12, 1935 in Chappell, to Mr. and Mrs. Myron Carlson. He began showing carloads with his father in 1950 at the National Western and Chicago Feeder Cattle Show until 1974. He graduated from Chappell High School in 1953. Merlyn enrolled at the University of Nebraska as an animal science major where he completed his freshman year. He then transferred to Colorado State University. during college he met Janice Johnson and they were married August 26, 1956. Merlyn received his bachelor degree in Animal Science from Colorado State University in 1957 and upon graduation he enlisted in the army for six months.
Merlyn then returned to the ranch and formed a partnership with his father. The Carlson operation has expanded and improved from 4500 acres that Myron purchased in 1943 to 10,500 acres today. 2000 acres are farmed with wheat, irrigated corn and alfalfa being the principal crops raised. Merlyn has always been an innovator and through the use of center pivot irrigation for grazing pasture he has consists of 600 angus cows. Merlyn desires a narrow genetic base to ensure uniformity and predictability and has been selecting for maternal traits for twenty years. Purebred replacement heifers have been marketed to commercial herds, but today Merlyn feels production can be increased with a terminal cross breeding system.
Merlyn's ingenuity is evidenced by his continuing interest in research. On the ranch his main areas and goals include genetics to increase value per animal, improved hay production, fuel efficiency through the increased use of horses and feed conversion to reduce costs of production. The Carlson operation increased its diversification several years ago with the addition of a commercial feed lot by Chappell that includes a feed store and mill. 2000 to 3000 head are marketed for slaughter each year. Merlyn, a man always looking into the future, has designed efficient facilities to implement a disease preventative program as he feels this is an important criteria for a successful operation.
Although Merlyn keeps very busy with the family, ranch, feedlot, and his organizations he has found time to be active in the community. He has served on the Methodist Church Board, Lodgepole Lions Board, Deuel County Conservation Board, Chappell Hospital Board, and the Farmers Elevator Board.
Not only has Merlyn been influential in the family operation, but in the industry as a whole. During 1970 and 1971 he served as the Nebraska Stock Growers President. While President he was instrumental in establishing the Nebraska Beef Industry Foundation, the adoption of the 104 Check Off and the Cattle-Fax Service for Nebraska. Merlyn also founded the NSGA Research and Education Foundation, reorganized NSGA into local area affiliates and provided steps toward present NSGA Public Relations Program.
Merlyn's greatest contribution to agriculture is his work with the National Cattleman's Association. His first involvement on the national level was with the American National Cattleman's Association where he served as chairman of the Membership and Finance Committee and the Beef Research Committee. He also served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Board. After the merger and development of the National Cattleman's Association Merlyn was elected as first Vice-President in 1979 and served as President in 1980.
Merlyn has been named to the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement in 1971 and to the Northern International Livestock Exposition Hall of Fame in 1975. He has also been awarded the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Ag Achievement Award in 1971 and the Nebraska Agri-Business Club Outstanding Service to Agriculture Award in 1980.