I am incredibly honored to be featured in the January/February Dartmouth College Alumni magazine. The following article was written by Rianna Starheim, and appeared in the voices in the wilderness section of the magazine.
Bullish on Beef
“Two days after graduating from Dartmouth I put on my blue jeans and went to work at the cattle feedyard,” Burkholder says. “I started at the bottom with a scoop shovel and an hourly wage of $6.85.” Sixteen years later she owns the place—a 3000-head cattle feedyard in Nebraska, where she works alongside her husband, Matt Burkholder D’94. She’s also among the leading voices in the national beef industry, determined to reassure a public unsettled by the feedlot horror stories in reports such as Fast Food Nation.
“I was a consumer for a lot of years before I really knew where my beef came from,” Burkholder says. “I think it’s very important that people have an understanding of what it takes to grow food and where it comes from.” Burkholder writes a blog, FeedyardFoodie.com, with the goal of making the process of growing U.S. beef—farm to fork—more transparent. Burkholder also does volunteer work promoting animal welfare and food safety and is one of the leaders in the beef industry across the nation: She is a director of the Nebraska State Beef Council, sits on the Tyson Fresh Meats Animal Well-being Committee and earned the 2009 Beef Quality Assurance Producer of the Year Award. “I’ve always been interested by how animals think, and in particular cattle and other prey animals really interest me,” says Burkholder, whose A.B. in psychology comes in handy on the farm. “I’m fascinated by how their brains work.”