Growing up on our small horse operations in Wyoming and Colorado, my parents, Steve and Amy LeSatz, modeled a strong work ethic and taught my brother, Ben, and I the cattle and horse industries. My upbringing instilled a passion centered in agriculture and my Christian faith.
I attended the University of Wyoming to earn a B.S. in Agricultural Communications. While in college, I stayed connected to agriculture through my service as Wyoming State FFA Treasurer and my internships with the Platte County Extension Service, the Wyoming State Fair, the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and the National Western Stock Show.
My home is now in Wheatland, Wyo. with my husband, Tyler, who farms wheat, malt barley, pinto beans, sugar beets and corn. He is teaching me the ropes of farm life and I’m learning about the amazing technology and updated practices that are carrying agriculture into the future. Tyler is the true “Face of Agriculture.”
I graduated from UW in 2009 and was recruited as an intern for the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. They were embarking on a new project in partnership with Encana Oil and Gas called Community Dialogues for Rural Wyoming (CDRW). Through CDRW we visited five rural Wyoming communities to conduct “listening sessions” about sustaining agriculture and rural communities. After analyzing the feedback, we discovered one common thread in all the discussions. Every community wanted to share their core values with the public, disseminate truthful and positive agriculture messages to correct misperceptions and educate consumers and policy makers about agriculture and rural issues.
My coworker and mentor, Kosha Olsen, and I looked at each other and said, “We need a blog.” We were inspired by Ree Drummond (a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman) who through creative content, beautiful photography and a unique personality is able to share stories from her rural Oklahoma ranch to literally tens of thousands of people each day, many of which have never so much as stepped foot in a cow pasture. So I went back into the communities and pitched the idea. After my presentation on the power of blogs and social media, they agreed to try it out and www.realranchers.com was born.
We launched RealRanchers.com in June 2010. Folks from each community sent their stories for me to post. We paired the blog with Twitter and Facebook accounts and later added a YouTube channel. We’ve had stories about monitoring rangeland, pulling calves out of snow banks, high altitude gardening, 4-H projects and many, many more. Over the past two years, the blog has had thousands of hits and our Facebook page has grown to more than 1,400 regular followers from 19 countries. We continue a steady growth to achieve our goal of sharing “what really happens in the meadows, mountains and Main Streets of Wyoming.”
Encana has continued to be a supportive partner and with their ongoing funding, we’ve traveled across the state to meet with “RealRanchers” and take photos and videos for blog content. Those posts are still in the works and will be published over the coming months.
During my travels I participated in a tour of the Jonah Field, a very large oil and gas field near Pinedale, Wyo. The resemblances between energy workers and agriculturists were striking. They are all so proud of the work they do to provide vital resources to the world. This inspired me to start a new section of the blog, called RealEnergy. RealEnergy does the same thing as RealRanchers; tells the real stories of Wyoming’s rural citizens. There is so much misinformation about both industries and, in Wyoming, both industries are greatly intertwined. So keep checking back as www.realranchers.com evolves!
I’ve been a WSGA staff member for more than three years now and am now the Communication and Publications Director. In addition to RealRanchers.com, I also publish our quarterly CowCountry magazine and our monthly No Bull Sheet newsletter. I coordinate media relations, help plan events, serve on boards and promote the livestock industry any other way we can. I am proud that all my work is in service to an organization that has represented Wyoming livestock producers since 1872 (we’re 140 years old this year!).
Thanks to Liz for this great feature and sharing the background of the RealRanchers.com website. I encourage everyone to visit this page for stories and info on our great farmers and ranchers in Wyoming! Be sure to like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter!
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