Do you remember hearing about Storm Atlas in South Dakota just over a year ago? I was stuck in the snow in South Dakota for a few days in the Black Hills during that storm with fabulous South Dakota rural and ag women at their annual conference.
We had no electricity, or heat but had the safety of a cozy lodge, with a blazing hot fireplace, hotel staff that prepared what was supposed to be someone’s wedding reception food for us on a four burner gas stove and ample supply of wine. Those couple of days in the dark were lasting memories with women I previously didn’t know but we left with bonded relationships. There were many stories told, laughs shared, tears shed and a few hours of shoveling snow together.
But what happened following our time stranded together matters most to me. There was a huge rally and effort to bring attention to the disaster of western South Dakota caused due to the rare early October blizzard. Then recovery mode hit and ranchers needed help.
One of those voices and women in agriculture that put her heart and soul into the recovery effort was Amy Pravecek. Amy works for Zoetis, a large animal health company. Her customers and friends were greatly impacted by the storm. But no one told her she had to help. She did it because she could.
I have read enough negativity around agribusiness to know people sometimes think employees of agricultural companies are not engaged into the industry they work in and only care about profit. That is false and clearly come from people outside of agriculture and have never met positive people like Amy Pravecek who live out their passions every day.
Amy works for a large agribusiness. She ranches with her family. She rodeos. She is a mom and a wife. She rallies when the chips are down for others to make their lives better because she wants to do what is right for an industry that she loves more than herself.
Amy is an action orientated leader. You won’t find her in a fancy board room or rarely in front of a podium sharing her story. You’ll find her on the road or on a ranch, doing what she loves.
No matter your role in life, no matter the industry you work for, you can learn from Amy Pravecek’s example. She is energetic. She is committed. A challenge, or a disaster do not intimidate her. Amy goes 110% and gives everything she has to do what is right.
Amy proves from her work what others may just talk about as a concept. She is a living, walking, breathing case study of how to give back, humbly, without expecting anything in return.
Meet Amy Pravecek, in her own words below, originally from Hill City, South Dakota currently residing in Winner, South Dakota and will be transitioning to Belle Fourche, South Dakota over the next year and a half. No matter the town, you will read below Amy’s passions are deeply rooted in family, agriculture, particularly beef in South Dakota. She makes me a proud woman of agriculture. I will soon be joining the blogging world, as my husband and I are in the final process of purchasing Foothill Feeders. I will blog about our experiences thru this process, as well as educating people on this part of our industry. We will also be opening our feed yard up for educational purposes, tours and real life experiences for people interested in learning more about this industry. I am very passionate about educating and advocating for the Ag Industry, especially the beef industry!
South Dakota Cattle Locator: With the disastrous Blizzard Atlas that struck Western SD in talking with producers, I kept hearing the same things over and over again about how someone had 20 heifers that had drifted into their place during the storm, or people who were looking for groups of cattle or lost & found horses. So I started the South Dakota Cattle Locator Page, as a central location for people to post information on livestock that had been found at their place or for those to post information on livestock that they were missing and looking for. It was a way to help simplify this grueling process for these ranchers who had been thru so much. It took off and had over 50,000 reaches in the first four hours of going live! We were very fortunate to find and place many found and missing livestock back to their owners, and get them back home.
The page was featured as a resource in Beef Daily, Cattle Business Weekly, Tri-State Livestock News, SD Farm Bureau, SD StockGrowers, SD Cattlemen’s and many more. It was the quickest way I could think of to offer immediate help for a need I kept hearing discussed. This page has now transitioned into a great resource for educating and advocating about the Ag Industry, with many followers.
I am thankful for my amazing, fun-loving, superstar husband Ben, who takes care of everything on the home front while I am out traveling for work much of the time, my beautiful, caring, loving 16 Year Old Daughter Payton who is my pride and joy, and has been my best little girlfriend for the last 16 years, and my 3-year-old little cowboy, character of a Son, Paxton, who is my littlest pride and joy, who constantly keeps me on the chase.
We spend our summers as a family on the Rodeo trail cheering on Payton in High School, and 4H Rodeos all over South Dakota, and could not ask for a better way to spend our summers together. We have an amazing Rodeo Family that is made up of some of the best, most supportive, do anything for you people in the world and we love them all so much!
I am blessed to have two amazing sets of parents: Ross and Judy Rohde Rapid City, SD and Rod and Brenda Shafer Hill City, SD and awesome sisters who are also my best friends, Mandy Holcomb Gillette, WY, Alisha Coy, Hill City, SD and Ashley Smith-Colorado Springs, CO. My three brother in-laws are great as well, two of which are fellow ranchers who raise beef, and one who serves and defends our great country. Justin Holcomb, Adam Coy and Patrick Northway. I am fortunate to have a very close and supportive family.
What is your role in agriculture today? I have a few different roles in Agriculture:
My full-time career is a Territory Business Manager for Zoetis, a standalone Animal Health Company (Formally Pfizer Animal Health). I cover Western South Dakota and Eastern Wyoming. I work in the Cattle and Equine Division of Zoetis, who also proudly has Dairy, Pork, Poultry and Companion Animal Divisions. So my company is heavily invested in agriculture, in many different species. I have the pleasure of visiting and educating veterinarians and ranchers about products to help keep their cattle and horses healthy, and provide a safe food supply of beef for the world.
I LOVE my job and LOVE the people who I am so fortunate to get to work with every day. As well as get to work in an industry that I am very passionate about, and luckily for me, Zoetis is equally as passionate about this industry and the people who make it as great as it is.
I have always known that I worked for an incredibly agriculture supportive company, but over this last year, they have blown me away, and really stepped up to the plate in more ways than one to help those affected by Blizzard Atlas. I am truly blessed to work for such an amazingly generous company who has allowed me to help so many during their biggest time of need and devastation. I was lucky enough to be able to donate products to those producers in need to help keep what cattle they had survive, alive. Zoetis has also stepped up and donated $60,000 to the Rancher Relief Fund, and also offered assistance for veterinary services and supported numerous benefit auctions for ranchers of Western SD. Zoetis also donated $100,000 towards the new cow/calf facility at SDSU on behalf of Western South Dakota Ranchers to continue to enhance the education for ag students in South Dakota. Thank you Zoetis for doing such great things, being industry and customer obsessed, and for your great support towards my efforts to help our ranching community.
I also teamed up with the Heifers for South Dakota Program, as a Regional Coordinator, and could not be happier to be involved in this organization! Friday the 1st of November of 2013, we had the pleasure of our first delivery of donated heifers to the Rausch family, East of Hermosa. What a joyful blessed day this was, following a month of absolute heartache. A young couple from Montana, Ty and Rosalie Linger, started this program out of the goodness of their hearts as a way to help fellow ranchers in SD. We were blown away by the number of pledges we received from all over the country, and were blessed to deliver “Hope with Hide” to ranchers who lost most of their herds. Zoetis donated all the Vaccine and Pour On needed for these donated cows and heifers, so these new owners did not have to worry about that expense.
Currently, my husband and I have a cow/calf operation just southwest of Winner, SD. Our family enjoys every aspect of this lifestyle and we take pride in providing the best possible care for these animals, and industry that we love so much. There is nothing more rewarding than providing the highest quality, safest product possible to feed an ever-growing population. We are advocates for this industry, and love sharing details about this lifestyle with others.
As mentioned above, my husband and I are also in the final stages of buying a large feed yard in Western South Dakota called Foothills Feeders. Ben and I are jumping in with both feet and are looking forward to developing relationships with cattle customers and farmers from SD, ND, WY, and MT. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity and cannot wait to get started with this new adventure soon.
Our goal is to add value to locally produced calves and feedstuffs, provide valuable information to allow cattle owners to monitor and improve the genetic make-up of their herd to produce higher quality beef products and profitability, and to facilitate targeted marketing of cattle to meet narrowly defined processor specifications and increase net selling prices for producers. I am extremely passionate about educating moms at the meat counter and consumers of our final product, and will carry this passion into our new business.
I serve as Executive Board Member for South Dakota Rural Women in AG, am active in South Dakota Cattlewomen, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, and South Dakota StockGrower’s Association. I also serve as Chair Member for the Working Families division of the Zoetis Women’s Council.
This month I will begin my journey thru the SDARL Program, South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program. I am beyond excited for this 18 month program, and look forward to meeting, networking learning more about agriculture across the country as well as internationally.
I am very passionate about supporting and educating Women in AG, and have been involved in Annie’s Project and bringing it into my community, as well as many other Women In AG Activities and events. This is something I feel very strongly about, and there is nothing more energizing than a group of Women in AG who support and raise each other up in this industry.
How has agriculture shaped your life? What excites you about your community? Honestly, this last year has had the biggest impact on my life both personally as well as in Agriculture. It has been overwhelming to see the outpouring of support for Ranchers in Western South Dakota. People making sacrifices in their own families to help others, people offering to help in any way shape or form possible, people stepping up and making very generous donations, neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers, and lifetime friendships being developed as an outcome.
THIS IS AGRICULTURE. This is what as an industry we do to support and help each other in times of need.
We do not ask for handouts, or expect and sit back and wait for assistance. We stand up and do what we need to do to take care of our own. It’s amazing to hear over and over again from ranchers who suffered devastating losses say to me, “I sure appreciate your offer, but my neighbors took a worse hit than I did, please help them instead”. Or to see neighbors rally around to support and congratulate a young ranch couple who received a donation of Heifers, even though they themselves had suffered a tremendous loss. We are an industry who always puts others first, and never expect a thing in return. These things are what excites me about Ag Communities. The people of AG are the strongest, hardest working, most dedicated, loyal, caring group of individuals on the planet. The devastation of Blizzard Atlas last year has reminded me of just how many amazing, generous, caring people there still are in this world.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? When I started the South Dakota Cattle Locator Facebook Page, following Storms Atlas in South Dakota, this was a whole new venture for me. I had my own personal Facebook Page, but starting a public one open to anyone, and the process of setting it up with the correct settings, etc was a whole new ball game for me! With the way it took off with over 50,000 reaches, and over 2,600 likes/friends, and posts being shared hundreds of times every day it was a little bit overwhelming at first. But has definitely been worth it, and the page has had many success stories of getting livestock back home where they belonged, and has now served as a page for advocating for agriculture.
Just this last week I made a trip to Texas A & M in College Station Texas to attend a Beef University Program hosted by the Meat Science department there in conjunction with Zoetis. This program was phenomenal and instrumental in increasing my knowledge base on our end product of beef for my customers, and beef consumers, and how what we do on the ranch affects the carcass and end product. I, for the first time ever went through the entire process from live animal evaluation, to carcass evaluation and grid marketing, to completing the entire fabrication process of a beef carcass. It was AMAZING! We also discussed the economics from feeder calf to finished steer, finished steer to carcass and carcass to boxed beef. I feel 100% more prepared and educated following this program to discuss specifics about beef, the safety of this product, and the hundreds of safety procedures that are in place in packing plants in order to insure a safe end product to consumers. I wish everyone could attend a program like this, but I will certainly do my best to share everything that I learned from this program with as many people as I can.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? I enjoy encouraging others to do and be the very best that they can be, and to set goals and strive to accomplish them thru hard work and determination. Also that if your going to do something, regardless of what it is, do it the best of your ability and put your all into it. I surround myself with very positive, supportive, and encouraging people in my life who always serve as an awesome source of encouragement for me in my life. Your network, board members, support group, coaches or whatever you want to refer to them as, are a very important group of people to always have in your corner!!
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner with all the fixings has always been one of my favorites!! And of course ANYTHING BEEF!
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? I have so many amazing, inspirational women in my life that serve as role models and mentors for me!! I am very fortunate to have so many!! First of all my mom Judy, she is a smart, ambitions woman who has taught me how to be a go getter and always work hard in life, and who also taught me the wonderful skill of negotiation!! ALL the amazing supportive women that I have the pleasure to work with at Zoetis, as well as serve on the Zoetis Women’s Council with. The committee members that I am lucky enough to get to work with on the South Dakota Women in AG committee. ALL my long-term girlfriends who are my rocks in every aspect of my life, Tiffany Peterson (With Lighthouse Principles) who is an amazing coach and leader who has helped me to be Grateful every day of my life, and has given me the most beneficial success strategies I have ever received. And all who are Advocates for AG and speaking up to share the AG Story Including Katie Pinke, Troy and Stacy Hadrick, Feedyard Foodie, Jude Capper, and Dairy Carrie.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? My message would be that we are very fortunate to have the safest and most abundant food supply in the world, and that the technologies that are used in our industry are completely safe and necessary to continue feeding our ever-growing population. We as farmers and ranchers would not ever do anything to the food supply, which we feed to our own children and consume ourselves, that would ever be harmful to anyone. EAT BEEF!
What makes you smile? My kids, my husband, all my family and friends, and seeing them all healthy and happy. Babies. Cows and calves, especially Black ones. Our Horses, Rodeo and our Rodeo Family. Helping others and doing nice things for others. The Ag industry and all who are involved in it. Seeing people do generous things for others.
Thank you, Amy, for your South Dakota ag industry example and passion! For those looking for regular Pinke Post updates, stay connected this month with me on Facebook and Instagram. I am also sharing five giveaways this month through this Women In Ag series and will have something to share with you …very soon. Be watching and reading. Oh how I love surprises! Below you can find the Women in Agriculture series and please get to know all of these fabulous ladies!