A question and answer session with our former intern, Catie Mong.
Q: When did you work at TomKat, for how long, and what was your position?
I was a Sustainable Agriculture intern for the summer of 2016.
Q: How did you find out about TomKat Ranch?
I found out about TomKat Ranch through Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service as well as through my professor Patrick Archie. I was a teaching assistant for his sustainable agriculture course.
Q: How did you get involved in agriculture/ranching in the first place?
My involvement with ranching started out in conservation biology. I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia, an organization that believes that in order to have a future for cheetahs, you must first secure a future for local people. To reduce predator-livestock conflict, they had a model predator-friendly farm and a livestock guardian dog breeding program in which they gave the puppies to ranchers for free; this alone reduced conflicts by 90%. It was here that I first learned that ranching could actually be beneficial for the environment.
When I first moved from Texas to California for college, I wanted to major in Environmental Science, but didn’t think I fit in with my peers—I wasn’t vegetarian, rode Western for the equestrian team. My internship in Namibia was the “aha!” moment I needed to realize that these two parts of myself were actually complimentary and that more intersection was needed between ranching and environmental interests. I decided that there were already enough conservationists and that I wanted to focus on supporting ranchers and working landscapes. Once I decided that this was where I wanted to dedicate my career, I knew I needed to get hands-on experience. I was so happy when I came across the TomKat internship because it was exactly what I was looking for!
Q: What was your favorite memory at TomKat?
My favorite memory at TomKat Ranch is ironically the early morning cattle moves when the fog was still hanging low in the valleys. I especially enjoyed the times we got to move the cows on horseback.
Q: Who was the most influential person during your time at TomKat Ranch?
The most influential person would have to be Stacy. We spent a lot of time together riding horses. I remember during one lesson I was frustrated because I couldn’t do one of the patterns perfectly. Stacy called me out for always feeling the need to prove myself. She then explained that she understood why I was doing this—wanting to be taken seriously in a male-dominated field that I didn’t grow up in—but that this would only hurt me in the long term. This radical candor followed with empathy is something I will always remember, and is a lesson I try to remember no matter what situation I’m in.
Q: Where are you and what are you doing now?
For the past year, I’ve been working as the Customer Success Lead for PastureMap, a ranch management software start-up that aims to help ranchers make profits on healthy grasslands. Customer Success was a new position when I joined, so I’ve enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to most effectively help ranchers.
Q: How has your TomKat experience shaped where you are/what you are doing now?
I literally wouldn’t have my job if it wasn’t for TomKat Ranch. I first was exposed to PastureMap as an intern, and would later connect with Christine Su, PastureMap’s CEO at a Woman in Tech event where TomKat founder Kat Taylor was also speaking.
What I learned at PastureMap about holistic grazing is information I use on a daily basis. It’s been great getting to see the TomKat team at grazing conferences, and to help them with their PastureMap account. ☺