“I get tired of the perception that striving for mediocrity is okay, so I tend to challenge others to be their best – no matter how menial the task or how daunting the assignment at hand. ” -Dr. Rachel Endecott
The science behind production agriculture is critical to future generations. It might not be sexy to you. You might just like to enjoy a big, juicy steak like I do. But in agriculture, we have to work to not just sustain what we have but also grow efficiencies to produce more with less. And that is one reason, I am thankful for a woman in Montana that has a passion for science in beef cattle production.
Rachel Endecott received her BS in Animal Science from Montana State University in 2001, and her MS and PhD in range beef cattle nutrition with a reproductive physiology minor from New Mexico State University in 2003 and 2006. Yes, she is a smart lady! In between her professional commitments, Rachel is a 3rd generation rancher with her parents Bob and Janet, her grandparents, Bob and Cora, her uncle and aunt, Pat and Michelle, and her aunt Betty. It’s a family passion and one that Rachel works daily in to share beef expertise and knowledge through programs across her state and region working as a Montana State Beef Cattle Extension Specialist as well as teaching students at Montana State University. Watch this Montana Stockgrowers video to take a peek at Rachel teaching and why it matters to the next generation of beef ranchers.
Below Rachel, in her own words, shares insight on what agriculture is to her, her love for a great prime rib home-cooked meal, her independence as a woman in her 30’s traveling on her own. I teared up when I first read Rachel’s respect for Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling book, Lean In, giving her affirmation that she doesn’t need to fit into a cookie cutter mold and can keep driving with her career with happiness and success.
Women in Agriculture are “all kinds of kinds” as the hit song by Miranda Lambert says. I, for one, am thankful for all the kinds of kinds of women in agriculture.
Meet Dr. Rachel Endecott
What is your role in agriculture today? I’m the Montana State University Extension Beef Cattle Specialist. My primary role is to take research to the rancher, so I spend a good portion of my life traveling across the state and region, giving programs dealing with all facets of beef cattle production to both adults and youth. I also have a small teaching appointment, and teach the cow-calf portion of my department’s 400-level beef cattle management class. I have a passion for getting young people involved as leaders in their broader ag community, so my role as the faculty advisor for both the Collegiate Stockgrowers at MSU and the Academic Quadrathlon team (AQ is a 4-part animal science contest) is very important to me.
I run cows on shares and work as my professional schedule allows on my family ranch near Ennis, MT, where we raise high quality red baldy feeder cattle. The ranch is only an hour southwest of campus, so I’m home for all the big days, like branding and shipping. I take an annual spring break calving vacation, and am the AI technician. I’m also active in the Montana Stockgrowers Association and serve as the chair of the Education and Research Committee.
How has agriculture shaped your life? How hasn’t agriculture shaped my life? I’m a 5th generation Montanan and a 3rd generation rancher. Growing up, my needs came before the cows, but my wants came after the cows. Ranching teaches you about hard work, being frugal with your one paycheck a year, about life and death, and how to set priorities. I was an 11-year 4-H member, and I built my current cow herd from that first heifer my folks gave me when I was 8 years old. My undergraduate and grad school experiences at Montana State and New Mexico State further provided me with the foundation of skills and personal network to help me make a difference in my agriculture community. I never planned to have this many degrees when I started college, but there was still more to learn so I kept on going. And that hasn’t changed to this day – there’s always more to learn.
What excites you about your community? Watching my students succeed and sharing passion for agriculture across disciplines and geographical differences.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? I’ve been going on mini-vacations by myself, which tends to freak people out. I’m creating a list of good smart-aleck answers to “Who did you go with?”
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? I get tired of the perception that striving for mediocrity is okay, so I tend to challenge others to be their best – no matter how menial the task or how daunting the assignment at hand. For example, you can ask my students, Facebook friends, and pretty much anyone who knows me about my thoughts on grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
My sources of encouragement are my students, the ranchers I work with, and my family. Knowing that my work helps ranching families just like mine is the ultimate encouragement.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? Home-raised prime rib cooked medium rare, baked potatoes and corn out of the garden, and an apple crisp from our tree’s apples with fresh whipped cream for dessert.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? Living: Sheryl Sandberg; As a single woman in her thirties, other people often express their expectations that I should be married and have kids, implying that I am somehow less for not having accomplished those tasks. It was so refreshing to read “Lean In” and feel like someone out there supports my chosen path and even encourages me to keep pouring on the coal. Deceased: John Wayne. Because, well…JOHN. WAYNE.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? Food production is not faceless: real people are involved with every step of the process, farm to fork or gate to plate.
What makes you smile? Well, I love to laugh, so there are so many things that make me smile. Red cattle on green grass viewed between my horse’s ears. Winding discussions of concepts with students. Baby calves running in packs in the spring. Students laughing in the atrium of the Animal Bioscience Building on campus. Tiny kids who can’t see over their show heifer. Seeing my students succeed. Grumpy Cat memes. Being a ranch-raised PhD (we aren’t very common). Grammar, spelling, and punctuation jokes. John Wayne. When people actually get sarcasm. And not being able to attend any social event without at least one rancher asking a technical question.
Isn’t she awesome? I love that Rachel highlighted “Food production is not faceless: real people are involved with every step of the process, farm to fork or gate to plate.”
What questions do you have about how beef is raised before it reaches your grocery store meat counter?
Subscribe in the right column via email to not miss any of the daily features this month on Women in Agriculture. In between the features, I have a few others posts to share about family, like our son’s confirmation this past weekend and food, such as the ham and lentil soup on our stove right now. I also am going to have TWO North Dakota made giveaways this month, perfect for the upcoming holiday season.
30 Days of Women in Agriculture Features:
November 3: Katie Heger, Farmer, Teacher and Mother of 5
November 2: Kelly Rivard: Country Nights, City Lights
November 1: Introducing 30 Days of Women in Agriculture