Meet Jessy; she works at a guest ranch in Wyoming. She believes that agri-tourism can help create advocates for agriculture and bring awareness to issues facing ranchers.
Though she has previously lived in New Hampshire and Colorado, Jessy McLavey currently calls the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming her home. Working as the office manager (reservations, concierge, general guest service, etc.) at an upscale working cattle/horseback riding guest ranch, she deals in a unique aspect of the agriculture community.
Jessy has been working in the guest ranch/Western hospitality industry for three seasons (guest seasons usually run from spring-late fall) and has come to recognize the important role she and her coworkers hold. While the job is to first and foremost show the guests the time of their life and help them escape the “real world” and stress of their everyday lives, there is also the opportunity to have them recognize that this is beautiful country and that small-scale ranching and farming are real, traditional and disappearing American livelihoods that need to be preserved.
It takes a lifetime to run a farm or a ranch, but only one week for a person from “the city” to become an advocate for agriculture!
For most guests, this trip is the highlight of their year and they feel a strong bond to the cattle they move with the wranglers and the horses they ride each time (they feel like they are truly a part of the ranching community, and for that one week they are). They become deliberate followers of low-stress techniques, ask questions and then return to their homes and jobs with stories of their time in Wyoming. They tell their friends and family about the unforgettable time they had, and their friends in turn want to be a part of this special place and community.
It’s really an amazing thing.
The unfortunate thing is that some ranchers don’t embrace the visiting guests with as much warmth as they should. Some (not all) of them use the word “dude” with negative connotations and find tourism a nuisance. Jessy wishes that these folks in the ranching community would recognize the value in having people from outside the area see their lifestyle, embrace it, feel as though they’re a part of it and then return to the city and promote the conservancy of the agricultural industry.
Jessy loves the passion the guests develop for the land and is able to see her Wyoming home with fresh eyes each week. Her favorite part of working on a guest ranch is meeting new, diverse people every week who all share a passion for horses and a huge enthusiasm for the American West.
When she’s not at work, Jessy enjoys riding in the Big Horn Mountains, keeping up with her blogging, reading and braiding custom gear. She consciously tries to improve her horsemanship with each passing day and her hopes for the future include running yearlings on her own small ranch in Colorado.
You can follow Jessy on her blog WestEastern, on Facebook, and on Twitter! Thanks Jessy for a great feature and introducing us to a different aspect of agriculture!
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