A question and answer session with our former intern, Jake Tommerdahl.
Q: When did you work at TomKat, for how long, and what was your position?
I worked at TomKat from spring 2015 through fall 2016 as an intern and then as an apprentice with the land and livestock team.
Q: How did you find out about TomKat Ranch?
I took a sustainable agriculture course taught by Patrick Archie at Stanford which, looking back now, turned out to be the most influential experience I had as a water engineer grad student. I heard about the TomKat Ranch summer internship program through this class and have been an aspiring farmer/rancher ever since (*key word being ‘aspiring’).
Q: How did you get involved in agriculture/ranching in the first place?
Growing up, I mowed lawns. I thought I loved grass. But little did I realize, my weekly clean looking, 1” cutting of my lawns was the last thing the grass wanted. Later on, TomKat Ranch exposed me to a ranching community which set me on a more promising path to fulfill my passion for grass than my teenage career over grazing lawns.
Q: What was your favorite memory at TomKat Ranch?
My favorite moment was learning how to drive stick from fellow apprentice Jake Gomes- he would reward me with a donut every time I didn’t stall (a much better experience than learning to back up a trailer with Jake yelling at my every move).
Q: Who was the most influential person during your time at TomKat Ranch?
I’d have to say Mike Giannini was the most influential figure I had the honor to work with at TomKat Ranch and the memory of that time remains hugely influential today. I only knew Mike for a few months, but the conversations I had with him at that time led me to believe in my dream of becoming a farmer. Mike always reminded me to brush off the many social pressures that can dissuade a life in agriculture and to pursue this career path that is so full of purpose and meaning.
Q: Where are you and what are you doing now?
I am currently living in Greensboro, NC with Christy and Brie (our dog), seen below in the picture. I split my time between finishing grass-fed cattle for Summerfield Farms and molding my family’s 130-acre property into a diversified farm with my 2 sisters, my dad, and my mom.
Q: How has your TomKat Ranch experience shaped where you are/what you are doing now?
TomKat Ranch provided me with an introduction into the regenerative farming world, a community which I didn’t even know existed 4 years ago, opening the door to a career in soil growth and food production.