Women in Conservation Ranching

To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re introducing you to the incredible Women in Ranching enrolled in Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Initiative in a weekly content series. We asked questions, and they responded with fun, insightful, and birdy answers. We’ll share a new Q&A from a different region and group of women ranchers each week! 

 

Women in Audubon Conservation Ranching: Oklahoma and Texas

 

Rancher Name: Debbie Davis

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Bandera Grassland

Location: Tarpley, Texas

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

Instead of answering my favorite, as there are many I love for different reasons, I will answer with the bird I best identify with this property. That is the Vermilion Flycatcher. The brilliant red of the males, in combination with their ability to hover like a butterfly, amaze visitors to this property that have never seen this beautiful bird that is quite common here.

 

What do you wish more people knew about conservation on your ranch?

 

Mechanical removal of invasive juniper brush on our property increases moisture infiltration of the soil.  This property is in the fragile Balcones Escarpment that recharges the Edwards Aquifer. Controlling invasive woody species secures the future availability of water for human communities while enhancing quality of grazing lands for livestock and wildlife, including birds and pollinators.

 

If you could enjoy a meal with any woman, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

 

Gosh, it’s a tough decision between Rachel Carson and Jane Goodall. Jane for her compassion for animals and Rachel for her fearless exposure of the chemical industry. Regardless, both for their love and defense of the natural world.

 

Where is the worst smelling place you’ve been?

 

That’s yet a second toss-up. The walking tunnel under the road at the Laredo/Nuevo Laredo border back in the 1980’s was pretty unbearable. It smelled of a combination of urine, vomit, rotting crickets, and gray sewer water all masked with the nauseating fragrance of Pine-Sol. Perhaps worse was the time I cut the heads off two dead whitetail bucks that had gotten hooked up while fighting and fell off a cliff into a shallow pool of water. At least one died on impact. It was hard to determine if the second also broke his neck or if he suffered a terrible death from starvation. By the time I discovered them, the maggots had gone to work on them. There were so many thousands, the green, slimy water moved as waves. With a scarf over my face, I gagged between held breaths while my pocketknife did its work. The entangled antlers made an interesting conversation piece for 10 years until they were lost in a housefire in 2007.

 

Support Bandera Grassland

 

Debbie offers delivery in the Austin and San Antonio area, including all points in between. Click here to place your order.

 

 


 

 

Rancher Name: Rhona Lemke

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: McCollum-Lemke Ranches 

Location: Mason, Texas

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

My favorite bird is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. They are not only beautiful with their metallic green top and ruby red throat (at least for the males), they are extremely agile and territorial during breeding season. It is amazing something so small can be so aggressive.

 

What’s been your biggest work-related conservation success?

 

After practicing Holistic Management for many years, we decided to partner with the Savory Institute and become the Texas Savory Hub. The Grassfed Sustainability Group began in 2015. We now are part of the Ecological Outcome Verification program, and I am the Hub Verifier for Texas. Our home ranch was one of the first land bases in the world to receive the Ecological Outcome Verification designation from the Savory Institute. That work allowed us to have the ecological data to be included in the Audubon bird-friendly management program. The initial bird survey was a very rewarding learning experience. We found all the key species for our ecoregion on our property.

 

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?

 

My advice for women looking to pursue a ranching career is, be prepared for the “mountain tops and valleys”. There are some days so great you can’t wait tell someone about it and other days you just want to cry. A passion for hard work and a circle of friends makes it a very worthwhile adventure. You never know what that day is going to bring. 

 

If you had to live in a different state, what would it be?

 

I live in the heart of Texas, so I have lots of choices in my state. I can go to the big city, out to the country, to beaches, deserts, forests, grasslands, and mountains. I think I will stay right here in the Great State of Texas.

 

Support McCollum-Lemke Ranches

 

If you live in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Arkansas, you can find McCollum-Lemke Ranches beef at the fresh meat counter at your local Whole Foods. Click here for a list of locations. 

 

 


 

 

 

Rancher Name: Lauren Nitschke

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Circle N Ranch

Location: Jefferson County, Oklahoma

 

What is your favorite bird and why?  

 

Belted Kingfisher… Never having lived near a body of water before now, this entertaining bird has become my favorite feathered friend to watch here on our ranch ponds. Its distinctive, loud rattling call lets me know it’s here to hunt. I love watching them dive down from a high perch straight into the water at amazing speed, surface with their prize, and flit back into a tree to prepare to spear another tasty treat. 

 

What do you wish more people knew about conservation on your ranch? 

 

It’s HARD work! First, we’re going against the grain (literally!) by rejecting conventional practices such as tillage, chemical sprays and fertilizers, and growing monoculture pastures. Second, the effort put into grazing strategies that move our cattle onto fresh pasture constantly is always challenging. Third, the way we move cattle and manage our forages (such as no-till drilling seeds and not overgrazing) puts carbon and moisture back in the soil in a way conventional cattle ranching does not. Continuing to build soil health this way increases microbial populations so the cycle can repeat without having to add more and more inputs. It’s great for the soil, the plants, wildlife, and our cattle, as well as being a more cost-effective approach.

 

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching? 

 

Learn all you can about the concept of regenerative agriculture and animal welfare best practices. Don’t look to conventional land grant universities for depth of experience in either, but investigate alternative resources such as Holistic Management International, The Noble Research Institute, Regeneration International, and The Savory Institute. Make sure you have goals and metrics to measure your progress, financial stability, and mentors actually practicing these methods. Read, read, read, and attend recommended conferences and workshops for education AND networking – you don’t want to go it alone! I also encourage investigating certification requirements for organizations like Audubon and American Grassfed Association to become familiar with the specific protocols that will point toward worthy ranching goals. 

 

Niche markets have the potential to be more profitable than the commodity market. Identify your ideal customer and market only to that person or entity. Don’t shy away from charging what you deserve to be paid. Ranching shouldn’t be a fast dive into broke!

 

What’s your dream job? 

 

Any endeavor that supports and educates others about regenerative agricultural practices and their importance to returning health to our soils and ecosystem, nutrition to our food and vitality to our bodies. I’m living my dream job every day as I interact with friends, neighbors, and our customers, and I feel exceedingly blessed to be in this place.

 

Support Circle N Ranch

 

You can support Circle N Ranch if you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by visiting Nitschke Natural Beef to learn more about pick up locations and to place an order.   

 

 


 

 

 

Rancher Name: Wendy Taggart 

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Burgundy Pasture Beef 

Location: Grandview, Texas 

 

What is your favorite bird and why? 

 

The Cattle Egret – cows like them too. It’s great to see one creature helping another to get along. 

 

What do you wish more people knew about conservation on your ranch? 

 

Over the last few years we have converted 1,200 acres of farmland back to native-type prairie (Climax Plant Community). 

 

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?  

Success in ranching is not only understanding the land but understanding that any business must eventually justify its management and inputs. It is a great time to be progressive and of the “open minded” approach in agriculture. 

 

What’s your dream job? 

 

Conversing while handing a customer (home cook) a cut of meat that I know literally everything about…from the pasture to the plate. 

 

 

Support Burgundy Pasture Beef

 

Visit one of Burgundy Pasture Beef’s three retail stores, or visit all three, if you live in Dallas, Fort Worth, or Grandview, Texas. Burgundy Pasture Beef also ships nationwide, so if you don’t live in the area you’re still in luck! Click here to place your order online.

Women In Audubon Conservation Ranching: Colorado and Wyoming

 

 

Rancher Name: Sarah Gleason

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Gleason Bison

Location: Hesperus, Colorado

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

I have two. The first is the Turkey Vulture…which is my spirit animal. The second is the Ferruginous Hawk. We have one that nests every year in our southern pastures, and I love watching her and her fledglings hunt the pastures in summer evenings.

 

What do you wish more people knew about conservation on your ranch?

 

We use an outcome-based methodology to measure the work we are doing. Rather than a practice-based approach, Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) is outcome-based and provides empirical data on whether or not the land is regenerating. I feel this is very important, both as a land and livestock manager, to be able to show data that supports learning and the story of the land.

 

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?

 

No dream is too big, and nothing is ‘unrealistic’. Go for it. With the right people and enough human creativity, anything is possible. Also, the people who critique you, tease you, give you a hard time, etc., will be just as valuable on your journey as the ones that build you up – value both.

 

Where is the worst smelling place you’ve been?

 

Cleaning out the grease trap in a sushi restaurant in Edwards, CO (outside Vail, CO). I waited tables at the restaurant, and it was a deep cleaning day. The. Worst. Smell.

 

Support Gleason Bison

 

Gleason Bison has partnered with Audubon Certified rancher-retailer REP Provisions to sell Sarah’s bison products nationwide! Click here and have a Colorado Bison Box shipped to your door.

 

 


 

 

Rancher Name: Terry Henderson

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Cougar Valley Ranch

Location: Shawnee, Wyoming

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

I love the Rocky Mountain (Western) Meadowlark. I eagerly watch for it every spring because when I hear that beautiful song, I know spring is truly returning (although in varying degrees of pushing back winter). I can hear them singing all summer long, while I am outdoors, and it lifts my spirits whenever I hear it. I always look to see if I can spot the male (the singers).

 

What’s been your biggest work-related conservation success?

 

When my husband and I started ranching together, we had one portion of over 3,000 acres that only had one drilled well and a handful of stock ponds that usually dried up by the end of the summer in our high plains desert environment, with only a single cross (or dividing) fence. Over the past 24 years, we have built seven fences to subdivide pastures and drilled 11 water wells to provide better range management and water for wildlife and livestock. We are no longer dependent on dried-up stock ponds.

 

Who’s been your most influential woman mentor?

 

I would have to say my mother. She was a strong leader in the family of 10. Although she came from agricultural roots, she spent her adult life away from there. She taught good work ethics, moral values, a strong love of family and friends, true faith in God, and to always be a true lady, even in the midst of tragedy, turmoil, and chaos.

 

What’s your dream job?

 

When I was in college, I worked as a part-time secretary and in foodservice. That taught me I would never thrive in an office/enclosed environment. My dream job has been being a cowboy all my adult life. I feel sorry for those who cannot live their dream jobs.

 

Support Cougar Valley Ranch

 

Terry sells her beef locally to neighbors for pick up in Glenrock or Chugwater, Wyoming and accepts orders in October for finished beef in June. You can place your order by emailing Terry at naturalgrassbeef@hotmail.com.

 

 


 

 

Rancher Name: Adrienne Larrew

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Kiowa Creek Ranch | Corner Post Meats

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

When we were ranching on the Wind River in Wyoming, there was a Bald Eagle that flew the river every morning in the winter. It was mesmerizing to watch.

 

What’s been your biggest work-related conservation success?

 

Connecting the dots that eating is an agricultural act. Your food budget should have a conservation value. I discuss this quite a bit with NPR’s Ashley Ahearn on the Women’s Work podcast, Women's Work: NPR.

 

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?

 

Be you, be authentic. Whether you are a woman or man, rancher or banker. Be you, be authentic. You don’t have to prove that you are as strong as or better than. Just be you, be authentic. Let YOUR superpower shine.

 

If you had to live in a different state, what would it be?

 

I lived in Colorado until I was 21. Once I graduated college, I bounced all over the Rocky Mountain region working on different ranches and lived in five different states. I’d happily move back to Wyoming or Montana if the circumstance were right.

 

Support Kiowa Creek Ranch

 

With just about every cut and beef product you can imagine, Corner Post Meats ships beef raised on Kiowa Creek Ranch anywhere in the U.S. Click here to take a gander now!

 

 


 

 

Rancher Name: Jen Livsey

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Flying Diamond Ranch

Location: Kit Carson, Colorado

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

I’ve always thought the Long-billed Curlew is the coolest bird we get on our ranch.

 

What do you wish more people knew about conservation on your ranch?

 

Prioritizing the health of our land so that we can give our children and grandchildren something worth being part of is ingrained in every member of my family (we are 100% family-owned). We love seeing birds and all kinds of wildlife flock to our ranch because we know their presence is an honest compliment.

 

If you could enjoy a meal with any woman, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

 

My great-grandma. I would love to talk to her as an adult and hear about her life marrying into ranching life in the middle of nowhere. She was also a total babe and could give me some fashion tips.

 

If you had to live in a different state, what would it be?

 

Well, I’m married to a Texan and went there for grad school, so I could do it again. I find Texans’ state pride very endearing.

 

Support Flying Diamond Ranch

 

Another national retailer, you can support Jen and her family no matter where you live! Check out their online store here.

 

 


 

 

Rancher Name: Deirdre Macnab

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: 4M Ranch

Location: Rio Blanco County, Colorado

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

Barred Owl: Its plaintive cry makes your heart expand and the world stop.

 

What conservation projects are you working on right now?

 

Managed grazing. Soil, soil, soil. We continue to learn as we manage our cows in both pasture and dry upland range for greater water retention in the soil, healthier forage, more soil building legumes. By forgoing fertilizer and weed spray, we are learning how to use grazing to improve the health of the soil, the health of our cows, and the overall vitality of the ecosystem. Last year, we released about 100,000 special beetles to hold back the explosion of exotic invasive plants like leafy spurge and tamarisk instead of herbicides. These beetles take years to test by the Colorado Insectary in Palisades, Colorado, to make sure they are specific only to the invasive weeds targeted.

 

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?

 

Develop the hide of a rhinoceros, and the curiosity of a 2-year-old.

 

What’s your dream job?

 

I have it - ranching.

 

Support 4M Ranch

 

Located in Rio Blanco County in Northwestern Colorado, you can support 4M Ranch by calling Deirdre at 970.665.8744 to place an order for pickup. All orders come with a complimentary ranch tour and one night stay in a 4M Ranch cabin!

 

 


 

 

Rancher Name: Marissa Taylor

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Lone Tree Ranch

Location: Lone Tree, Wyoming

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

Golden Eagle. I love seeing them arrive for winter. They are one of the few animals who winter with us, and the company is much appreciated.

 

What’s been your biggest work-related conservation success?

 

We installed 10 time-lapse cameras to observe changes on the landscape and the impact of our management over time. We are moving into our third year and starting to have enough data or photos to see change year-to-year. The feedback is incredible because differences become so apparent when we look at the exact same photo or video year after year. Our eye and our memory fail to capture the subtle changes of our landscape over time.

 

Who’s been your most influential woman mentor?

 

Jen Livsey of Flying Diamond Ranch, an Audubon Certified bird friendly ranch in Colorado.

 

What’s your dream job?

 

My girls found a Dr. Seuss ‘My Book about ME’ in my parents’ library. It is a book I filled out when I was five and my response to ‘When I Grow Up, I Want to Be’ was, farmer, doctor, horse rider, rancher, artist, dog trainer. I’m certain ranching is the only profession where I can be all of these things.

 

Support Lone Tree Ranch

 

You can find Marissa’s beef at Audubon Certified Parker Pastures available for both pickup in Gunnison, Colorado and shipping nationwide. Try a subscription box, a beef share, or individual cuts–they have it all!

 

 


Women in Audubon Conservation Ranching: Montana and South Dakota

 

Rancher Name: Heather Bilden

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Coulee Creek Ranch

Location: Lavina, Montana

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

This is a tough question! It’s like asking me to pick my favorite color – my answer depends on my mood, my surroundings, and the season. In this moment, my favorite bird is the Common Redpoll. Large flocks of them have been descending on our yard every morning for the past few weeks. It is fascinating to watch them move in unison: landing, eating, and then taking off abruptly only to land again just a stone’s throw away. I love their bright red caps and the variety of reddish hues on the males’ chests (what the field guide aptly refers to as a “variable pink wash”). If you ask me in a month, I’ll likely say my favorite bird is the Sandhill Crane, which will be returning to Montana by mid-March. Their rattling calls will echo across the prairie for months and become part of the fabric of our daily lives. We have the pleasure of watching a pair raise their young in our pastures every year, and the transformation that occurs in just six short months is marvelous.

 

What conservation projects are you working on right now?

 

This summer we are excited to begin a trial of multi-species grazing with our new flock of Icelandic sheep. About five years ago, we subdivided 4 large pastures into 14 smaller units. We now rotate our cattle more frequently to spread grazing pressure evenly across the landscape and incorporate periods of rest for each pasture. Cattle and sheep prefer different types of plants, and grazing them in succession can improve pasture quality, decrease weeds, and increase biodiversity. Raising sheep will also give us the opportunity to diversify our income stream and provide lamb and wool to our community.

 

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?

 

It has been vital to me to find and nurture community. Living in rural areas can feel isolating. Our business is just my husband and myself, so we often go through our day-to-day lives without seeing other people. But even in our small community, there are always neighbors that we can call on to help us when we’re in a pinch, and to whom we are eager to lend a hand. I’ve also found a tremendously supportive community in the Women in Ranching program coordinated by the Western Landowners Alliance. Virtual calls, email conversations, and annual gatherings bring this group together. I have a network of knowledgeable, inspiring, and compassionate women ranchers with me wherever I go!

 

What’s your dream job?

 

I’m doing it! Being a rancher and selling beef directly to consumers is a dynamic job that keeps me on my toes. I love working outdoors – moving the herd, checking water tanks, and feeding with our team. Even fencing has its moments! I also love connecting with our customers at farmer’s markets and through weekly deliveries to Billings. People in Montana often have stories to share about growing up on ranches and working with horses. Or they may be new to it all and are curious to learn what it’s like to live on a ranch. I enjoy talking with people about the animals we raise, and the connection between healthy landscapes and nutritious food. I also love how our work on the ranch is deeply connected to the seasons. It is very grounding to have routines that we repeat in harmony with nature’s cycles.

 

Support Coulee Creek Ranch

 

If you live in the Billings, Lavina, or Bozeman area, you’re in luck! Coulee Creek Ranch will deliver your online order or you can visit a Billings Farmers Market near you during the summer months.

 

 


 

Rancher Name: Jeannie Franceus

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Leone Valley Ranch

Location: Wessington Springs, South Dakota

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

Prairie Chickens are beautiful and fascinating birds that are native to this area. They are most notable for their elaborate and dramatic mating rituals. They have SO much going against them. My goal is to make their lives easier with good management practices.

 

What conservation projects are you working on right now?

 

I have sub-irrigated alfalfa that has been farmed or hayed for decades. For the past two years, I have grazed it rotationally, using cattle to build soil health. Grazing rather than haying gives nesting birds time to raise their young. Young birds can scoot out of the way of cattle much easier than they can a tractor/mower. Alfalfa weevils have been a problem for both of the past two years, but the alfalfa was able to recover, produce and thrive under managed grazing, without chemical intervention. There are thousands of beneficial insects for every harmful insect and surviving weevils without chemicals is a major victory for pollinators, as well as birds and other wildlife in the area.

 

Who has been your most influential woman mentor?

 

Without a doubt, it would be my mom. She loved the outdoors, loved cattle and all creatures, and was committed to the value of conservation. Right behind that, and an Audubon enthusiast, was my grandmother. One of my earliest memories is sitting by her at the window while she used her "1923 Bird Guide" to teach me to identify sparrows, blue jays, and robins outside the window. It was fascinating to me that such little things were so important to her.

 

If you had to live in a different state, what would it be?

 

I lived in Chicago, Illinois, for four years; Portland, Oregon, for nearly 30 years; Florida for five years, and Georgia for nearly a year. And I can say without a doubt, there is nowhere I would rather be than South Dakota.

 

 


 

Rancher Name: Kristi Patterson

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: P Bar Ranch | Cowgirl Meat Co

Location: McLeod, Montana

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

The Sandhill Crane. They are beautiful, incredible call, and their link to prehistoric times is powerful. Their presence defines our mountain valley where the ranch is.

 

What conservation projects are you working on right now?

 

We have several interesting efforts. We’ve seen great success recently with our regenerative grazing and the improvement in soil health and habitat. However, one project that has been especially inspiring, is our work to strengthen our riparian zone for the future. It is critical habitat for a huge variety of birds and by putting in exclusion fencing, we are seeing hundreds of baby trees grow that would before have been eaten by the elk and deer. Creating this nursery to ensure a strong riparian zone as a present AND future refuge has been rewarding.

 

If you could enjoy a meal with any woman, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Over lunch, I would ask her about the obstacles she had to overcome as a pioneering woman in her field and whether she regretted the decision not to step aside and retire earlier.

 

Where is the worst smelling place you’ve been?

 

Three hours in the car with our dog after he got skunked. We stopped at a coffee shop on the way home and bought bags of ground coffee and just kept our noses buried in the bags.

 

Support P Bar Ranch

 

Kristi and our next featured rancher, Jaimie Stolzfus, started Cowgirl Meat Co to sell the beef from P Bar Ranch. You can support both women from anywhere in the U.S. by clicking here.

 

 


 

Rancher Name: Jaimie Stoltzfus

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: P Bar Ranch | Cowgirl Meat Co

Location: McLeod, Montana

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

Robins. I love hearing them in the spring - full of hope and cheer!

 

What do you wish more people knew about conservation on your ranch?

 

We are very passionate about regenerative grazing and managing the ranch holistically. Not only does it help our land and soil, but it helps our wildlife and bird populations as well as produce nutrient-dense, grass-finished beef.

 

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?

 

Ranching is tough but very rewarding and I would encourage any woman looking to pursue ranching to go for it! The best way to learn is through experience so find a place that will teach and encourage you. Get connected in women ranching groups, if possible, to have a great community of support around you.

 

What’s your dream job?

 

I feel blessed to say ranching in Montana and raising my family here is a dream come true!

 

Support P Bar Ranch

 

Support Jaimie and Kristi from anywhere in the U.S. by clicking here.

 

 


 

Rancher Name: Cindy Tolle

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Evergreen Ranching

Location: Custer, South Dakota

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

Elegant Trogon... a beautiful bird that is very plentiful on our ranch in the Sierra Tarahumara of Northern Mexico. One of our ranches is in the Tutuaca Natural Protected Area for Flora and Fauna. These and Thick-billed Parrots are birds we see and hear quite often.

 

What’s been your biggest work-related conservation success?

 

I spearheaded the reintroduction of native bison back to the grasslands of Northern Mexico in 2009. This was a joint venture between the National Park Service in Mexico and the National Park Service in the US. These bison were relocated from Wind Cave National Park to Rancho El Uno in Janos Chihuahua in the Janos grasslands biosphere preserve. Today, this ranch is managed by Cuenca Los Ojos AC and the bison population is thriving, right along with populations of grassland birds.

 

Who’s been your most influential woman mentor?

 

I was on a mapping job once in Africa with the Smithsonian Human Origins project. I was honored to get to work a couple of weeks with Mary Leakey, the British paleoanthropologist. Mary was very inspiring, a strong woman that knew exactly what she wanted and didn't stop until she got there.

 

What’s your dream job?

 

Ranching. What I do… I love what I do. I get to raise very interesting, ecologically efficient animals on conservation land. When the animals are ready to become food, I make sure all parts of the animal are used. Hides go to Timberland to make boots; skulls go to artists to paint, bead, and sell; tallow goes to bird feeders, soaps and candles; meat goes to customers that need healthy protein sources; and the rest of the byproducts go to make pet foods. It just doesn't get more fulfilling.

 

Evergreen Ranching

 

In addition to serving people, Cindy also makes and sells dog food! You can support her on your plate and in your canine’s bowl. You’ll find Evergreen Ranching beef at retail stores, restaurants, hospitals, various pickup locations around Rapid City, and online anywhere in the U.S. here.

 

 


Women in Audubon Conservation Ranching: California

 

Rancher Name: Doniga Markegard

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Markegard Family Grass-Fed

Location: Half Moon Bay, California

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

The Pacific Wren and the Golden Eagle are my favorite birds, even though it is hard to pick a favorite because I love them all. The Pacific Wren is one that I am always impressed with, how they go from feeding on the ground to flying to the tallest tree to sing that song that always makes me pause and smile. They also show up in times of significance in my life. The Golden Eagle, well because of how magnificent they are. They visit our grasslands on their migratory route and the whole energy of the place changes when they are around, like a very prominent person has just walked in the room and everyone shifts their attention to them.

 

What conservation projects are you working on right now?

 

I would say that every day is a conservation project. We are constantly interacting with the ecology around us and working to improve habitat with our grazing methods. We are out on the ranch observing and listening to nature. In California, we have had record heat temperatures this year which has changed the growth patterns of the grass and also seemed to kick start spring early. We are moving the animals frequently to make sure enough forage stays in each pasture for maximum recovery both for grassland bird habitat and for our cattle.

 

We are also working on a large infrastructure project on our Jenner Headlands Ranch in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Wildlands Conservancy. This project will improve our conservation grazing by providing water in parts of the ranch that previously had none, cross fencing to improve the movement of the herd, and prescribed grazing to help with fire mitigation.

 

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?

 

Just go for it. Get some dirt time in, go work for room and board on a ranch somewhere and give it your all.

 

What’s your dream job?

 

I am living my dream job. I get to be outside every day on beautiful ranches with my family, doing good things for the planet.

 

Support Markegard Family Grass-Fed

 

In California’s Bay Area, Markegard Family Grass-Fed can be found at farmer’s markets, offers home delivery for large orders, and has multiple pick-up locations. Visit the website for all order details.

 

 


 

Rancher Name: Carolyn Carey

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Carey Ranches

Location: Alturas, California

 

What is your favorite bird and why?

 

Owls… we have many on the ranch… as well as great rodent control, they’re fun to watch and "talk" with.

 

What conservation projects are you working on right now?

 

We’re proud of our management plans with Audubon and Ducks Unlimited. The Pit River runs through our ranch and irrigates the meadows. We devised a management plan to continue providing wonderful habitat. Swainson’s Hawk and Ibis and the threatened Bank Swallows are here because of the way we’ve managed the ranch for 50 years. I’m also the Vice-Chair of the board of California Rangeland Trusts and their plan is to help ranchers keep ranching to save the land.

 

Who’s been your most influential woman mentor?

 

My mother. She went to Cal Berkeley and graduated in 1938 with a degree in Business as one of the few women in those times to have a business degree. She was brilliant. She had incredible common sense in addition to being very educated, which she never flaunted. One of my best memories is when kids came over to our house and we’d sit around the table doing homework and visiting. Someone would have a problem with algebra, French, Spanish, etc. and without saying a word, my mom would get out of her chair and go over to the big bookcase. She'd bring back the right book and set it down in front of them. We could always count on her to get more information about whatever subject we needed. She was such a strong, unassuming, commonsense type of person.

 

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?

 

Every situation is so completely different but you need to have a bit of a financial background and you can’t get flustered by much of anything. Just be ready for whatever might come up at whatever time of day!

 

Support Carey Ranches

 

Carey Ranches is one of the first Audubon Certified bird friendly ranches in California that produces Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Beef™. You’ll find Panorama Organic beef at retail locations throughout the U.S. and online at Crowd Cow for shipping nationwide.