* Gary Janacek, president/CEO of Scott & White Employees CU, Temple, Texas, believes people should take a break from the daily grind and appreciate nature for a while. "There's so many things you can take for granted every day, you're so involved with your day-to-day business. I'm fortunate that I've found something to get me back to nature and remember my roots." And that is cattle ranching. Janacek spends his free time on his family's 150-acre Lazy J Ranch in Central Texas. Janacek grew up on the ranch and he remembers he couldn't wait to get away from it – things change. "When I was a kid I wanted out of there. Now I can't wait to get back to it. It's part of our family, it's my roots. You have your professional career, but you can't forget your roots," said Janacek. Janacek's father passed away so he and his brother help his mother keep the place running. "We supply cattle that goes to the feed lots. We keep calves until they're about 550 to 600 pounds, then they go to the feed lots for about 120 days. That's where your beef comes from." "It's a lot of work. There's always a fence to fix, hay to bale and cattle to tend. You're constantly fighting the weather. The droughts are very taxing on your ability to provide feed for the cattle. We go through viscious cycles." But the joys outweigh the hardships, said Janacek. For example, how many people can spend quiet time with a 2,200 pound bull The ranch is home to Jimbo, a 2,200 pound Red Brangus bull, not the type of animal to settle in on your lap, but he's worked his way into Jancek's heart. "Usually you don't get that close to a bull like that. I purchased him off of a local ranch at two years old. He's eight years old now and you can get close to him and not really have to worry about him. Though you always have to keep a watchful eye." Of course nothing lasts forever on a ranch, and Jimbo will only stay around for as long as his productivity allows. At 52, Janacek isn't ready to retire, but said when he does he'll spend more time at the ranch. A past CUNA Chairman (1994-95), Janacek admits that he's tried to take a lower political profile in the industry of late. "I've been lucky that I've been able to enjoy my credit union career and stay at home. A lot have pursued their careers in a way that's taken them thousands of miles from home." * When he's not writing about DP vendors, Internet bankers and other software deployments, Credit Union Times Technology Correspondent Marc Rapport likes to get his hands dirty using a different kind of hardware. Rapport is really into gardening, which, if you care to push the seasons, can be a year-round avocation in Rapport's adopted hometown of Columbia, South Carolina. He went through the Master Gardener training, sponsored in South Carolina by the Clemson University Extension Service, and there found himself to "be the only working-age male in the group, which was sort of fun. All those grandmas sort of fussed over me, or at least they humored me, because they were sure a heck of a lot more knowledgeable," he said. Rapport says he has a fondness for growing things naturally and that, just like with covering technology, he enjoys exploring the leading edge of his hobby. "My mom's quite the green thumb, and so are my sister and brother, so I guess it runs in the family," he says. "They're all still back home in Ohio so it's interesting to compare seasons. We're always about four or five weeks ahead of them down here." The 46-year-old transplanted Buckeye has been living in South Carolina for 16 years, having been transferred from Detroit when he was working for The Associated Press wire service. After working for daily newspapers, magazines and even a zoo (Riverbanks Zoo & Garden in Columbia), Rapport now has been a full-time freelance journalist and part-time media writing instructor at the University of South Carolina for the past few years. "Interestingly, my main clients have sort of a common theme – credit unions, electric cooperatives, zoos, public gardens, non-profit foundations. I think I naturally gravitate toward working with people for whom their profession is a bit of a mission as well as a job," he says. * Tony Robinson, Controller of RCUSO Inc., a CUSO of Riverside County Credit Union, never considered himself an author as much as a parent searching for a way to teach his children how to distinguish right from wrong. "I started teaching my daughters certain principles since the age of six that would serve them well for the rest of their lives. At first they didn't understand what they were saying but I still had them keep repeating until they had them memorized," said Robinson. "My hope was that I'd have them so brainwashed by the age of 13 that I wouldn't have to worry about them." So far he says everything is falling into place, the girls are almost 11 and are for the most part well behaved. When they try to get away with things like watching television before doing homework, Robinson simply asks them what is the work ethic principal. "They answer `it's the practice of working first and playing later' and then say `oh all right dad.' " says Robinson. " They've just answered their own question so my job is a little easier. It is a challenge to raise kids today so the book is just a way to help parents share their wisdom over the year with kids." The results at home sparked an idea while long train rides to work gave Robinson the time over the course of a year to write and publish his first book entitled A Child's Guide to Wisdom. In it Robinson lists about 51 principles ranging from character and awareness to inner strength and perseverance for children to memorize and learn. Some of the quotes from Robinson's book currently flash on Riverside County Credit Union's screens while members wait for tellers. So what is next for the local author? Well, Robinson also enjoys writing music and has recently penned a song called Everyday Heroes. Inspired by the events of September 11 and the war effort, Robinson is now working on launching a music video for the song.

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