As the mother of three girls, I am always looking for strong female role models to mentor my girls. One of my goals as a parent is to raise my daughters to be strong, confident, and motivated women. I want them to embrace life with a passion and use their talents to make the world a better place.
When I became a part of the beef family in 1997, I was challenged as a young woman trying to gain respect in a man’s world. In particular at that time, the cattle feeding (feedyard) part of the beef family was made up predominately of men.
Over the years, I have watched the dynamics change with more and more young women choosing a life raising beef cattle. In addition to a growing number of female beef farmers, there are also a growing number of women scientists that serve as professional consultants: helping farmers like me to make good decisions regarding animal care and environmental stewardship.
I believe that a diverse mix of men and women makes a stronger beef family. This more eclectic group allows for a wider array of perspective and savvy. I have no idea if any of my three girls will choose a life in agriculture, but I want them to realize that if they work hard then opportunities await them.
One of the young women that I want my daughters to meet is Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, Ph.D. Kim is the Director of Sustainability Research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. A native of Northern California, she grew up in a small ranching community where her family raised ewes and beef cattle.
In addition to participating in FFA and playing an active role on the ranch, Kim was an all-state downhill skier and basketball player while also being an acclaimed horsewoman. She still actively competes in dressage riding as well as being a rising star in the discussion of sustainability relative to beef production.
While Kim can claim many great accomplishments, I believe that her greatest talent is her proactive passion for environmental stewardship. Her childhood memories of town hall meetings marked by heated discussions regarding public land use inspired her to become a woman who uses science to ensure the judicious use of natural resources.
Her quiet confidence and innate personal integrity have gained my respect, and I look to her for guidance as I work to reduce the environmental footprint of my farm. Her work on Beef Sustainability Research gives me faith for the future.
Kim is currently working with the BASF Corporation North America (a world leader in conducting comprehensive life cycle analyses) and the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA to create the first industry-wide beef sustainability assessment. This assessment will examine the sustainability of the entire beef supply chain from pasture to plate.
I am very thankful that Kim has agreed to enter our discussion of sustainability and she will be a contributor to the next couple of Feed Yard Foodie posts. Not only will we all benefit from Kim’s knowledge and level-headed savvy, but my girls will get to be “introduced” to her as well. This will be great preparation for the day where they can meet Kim in person as she is at the top of the list for possible mentors!