I remember those post high school years before settling into my roles as husband and father. I was fortunate to find ranchers willing to give a young man with little experience an opportunity to learn on their dime. Actually, they paid me to break their stuff. I wonder if they saw it that way? I was in my first week at a job near Walden, Colorado and the family I was working for left for a family trip and I was running the feed tractor with a large square bale processor. I thought I had it down, so I hit high gear and while in reverse managed to jackknife it, blowing one of the outside duals on the tractor. I spent the rest of that week forking hay and was sure I would be fired when they returned. They kept me on, and I had a great summer of learning, similar to many of my other experiences during those formative years.
When we purchased RMC from Dave and Kathy Pratt, my wife Dixie said we need to do something for the young people. We want to get in front of them during those formative years to introduce them to the Ranching for Profit principles so that they can have those tools as they develop their paradigms. Three years ago, we held the first Ranching for Profit for Young Adults and I’m proud to say it is one of the best things we have done as a company. The program has grown, now we are even contracting with South Dakota and Nebraska for delivery of a similar program. Our Young Adult RFP is held at the Rock Springs Ranch near Decker, Montana June 12-16th and each day is a ½-day classroom and ½-day in the field touring a ranch that is implementing the principles. We usually average around 45 young people ages 18-25, the networking and friendships that occur is amazing. At the end of last year’s program, we asked the participants what went well and what could be better. One of the things they reported as a positive, was that the ranch where we stayed had very limited cell phone coverage, so everyone put down their phones and interacted with each other instead of retreating to the device. One of my favorite memories from last year was when we toured Padlock Ranch. After the formal presentation by Trey Patterson the GM of Padlock was adjourned, he was surrounded by young people asking him questions about what path they can take to become the ranch managers of the future. It was truly inspiring!
Like the ranches that gave me an opportunity when I was young, what opportunities can you create for others? For the young people that you interact with, how can you encourage them to seek experiences outside of their current norms? Maybe you have a young person working for you, or know of someone ripe for an opportunity. Meaningful opportunities usually involve leaving your local area. We are more receptive to new things when we are outside our normal circle of comfort. At the time of this writing we have about a dozen spots available in our Young Adult Ranching for Profit. Registration details can be found here: https://ranchmanagement.com/young-ranchers