In January, the New York Times published a beautiful photo essay discussing the growing prevalence of women in ranching.
What We’re Reading – Women Ranchers in the West – New York Times and Colorado Gazette
In January, the New York Times published a beautiful photo essay discussing the growing prevalence of women in ranching. The article was a compelling exploration of the historic and modern significance of women who care for rangelands and the transformative effect that changing demographics in ranching today might have on our food system and working lands.
“Against the vast blue skies and craggy prairies, female ranchers have found the same independence and adventure that first lured their male antecedents, but they are also forging a new path. Women are leading the trend of sustainable ranching and raising grass-fed breeds of cattle in humane, ecological ways.”
Importantly, this resurgence of women in stewardship has been coupled with innovation and energy for programs that help support women who currently work, or wish to work, in ranching. One example in the article was New Cowgirl Camp, a program created by Beth Robinette of Lazy R Ranch in Cheney, Washington that provides training for women ranchers. The article explains, “[Beth] runs New Cowgirl Camp, a five-day course that trains women in animal husbandry, ranch management, financial planning, ecological monitoring, and regenerative grazing. Ms. Robinette recoils at the gaudy, country-pop version of the overly feminized cowgirl, and calls her program a “rhinestone-free zone.”
The Colorado Gazette also recently published a striking photo essay on Colorado Women in Ranching. The essay won first place from the Colorado Associated Press Editors and Reporters for a Picture Story/Photo Essay and is a candid showcase of the regenerative work being done by Julie Sullivan and George Whitten of San Juan Ranch.
TomKat Ranch has been active in this growing movement. Last month, the Women in Ranching program run by the Western Landowners Alliance (WLA) hosted its third year at the ranch. The program was started through a partnership between TomKat Ranch, Paicines Ranch and WLA as a way for women ranchers to “connect with one another, to promote leadership and inspire creative solutions for how to support a growing resource of female leaders.” Women ranchers from around the American West have responded enthusiastically to the program and there are now five additional gatherings scheduled.
The changing demographics of ranching are potentially an exciting sign of new opportunities. As the perception of ranchers grows to include their vital role as stewards of the land and providers of valuable ecosystem services, it is heartening to see new people and new ideas strengthening the field.
To learn more about the photo essay in the New York Times, please click here.
To learn more about the photo essay in the Colorado Gazette, please click here.
To learn more about the Women in Ranching Program, please click here.