Tag: Ag education

Women in Ag: Fourth Generation Rancher, Sarah Helmick

Sarah Butler Helmick, was born and raised in Bliss on her family’s 4th generation purebred Angus ranch. Growing up, she was active in 4-H and FFA as well as the Idaho Junior Angus Association and the National Junior Angus Association. Sarah attended Casper College on a livestock judging scholarship and eventually became a 3rd generation University of Idaho Vandal, where she received a degree in Agriculture Science, Leadership and Communication. She is currently teaching Agriculture at Bliss High School. She and her husband, Chad, live and work on his family’s cow-calf and farming operation in Bliss where they develop the heifer calves through breeding and farm.

How are you involved in agriculture today? I am currently teaching Ag to students in Bliss, grades 7th-12th, and I also serve as the FFA advisor. My job has taught me just how removed our consumers are from the agriculture industry, even in a rural town! I try every day to help educate our youth about the agriculture industry and shed light onto any question they may have. I’m also co-advisor of the Idaho Junior Angus Association. My husband works alongside his parents on their cow-calf operation that spans from Mayfield to Bliss, and manages all of the farming. When I am not teaching or coaching an FFA team, I enjoy helping the family with whatever tasks that need done, whether it is putting up fence in the spring, feeding heifers, or my favorite, helping wean and bring cow’s home from the mountain. I have even been known to change a pesky wheel line (not my favorite job!) Also, as often as I can (and not near often enough) I help my parents at Spring Cove Ranch. My parents still manage a few cows of mine and I like to help them whenever I can. I enjoy helping my dad and brother sort through the bulls in preparation for our annual bull sale and helping mom with the bookwork.

How has your life been shaped by agriculture? Like most of the women featured, I was born into an agriculture family. I am the 4th generation to be involved in Spring Cove Ranch and I am very proud of that! Both sides of my family were very active in the agriculture industry, raising cattle and involved in organizations such as 4-H, Soil Conservation, Idaho Cattle Association and so on. This led to my passion for the 4-H and FFA programs. I am currently a leader in the 4-H program and enjoy helping young members get started in our industry. Growing up, I knew I would always want be involved in agriculture. My parents gave me my first registered heifer in 1993, Spring Cove Violet. From that one cow, my herd grew and so did my love for the beef industry. Being involved in the cattle business also taught me a lot about life. I learned skills that I know most kids these days are missing. I learned about life and death, success and failure. I learned about hard work and responsibility. This sort of “reality check” came early in life and shaped me into the person I am today.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? There are many people that inspire me on a daily basis. I have learned so much from my parents and am so grateful for them. They have pushed me to be the best version of myself, and because of them, I was able to grow up the best way possible—outside, and around Angus cattle! At a young age they instilled in me the importance of a good education and hard work; two aspects of life I haven’t forgotten. Their resilience and knowledge impresses me every day. As most people who know my family would tell you, I come from a long line of strong, independent women. Another inspiration to me was my great grandmother, Dorothy Agee. She married at 17 and moved to a ranch in the Middle of Nowhere, Nevada, where she raised cows and kids. She taught me lessons that I didn’t truly understand until I got married last year. Her advice on raising…errr…I mean… loving a husband is something I will forever cherish.

Chad and Sarah will be celebrating their first year of marriage this coming Sunday!

Chad and Sarah will be celebrating their first year of marriage this coming Sunday!

How do you provide encouragement to others? I always try to look on the bright side of things. I try to encourage my students to push themselves beyond their limits. A lot of the time, they don’t think they can do something, because no one around them ever has. For that reason, I try to encourage students to envision themselves being successful, and am the first to let them know that I believe in them. If we all tried our hardest, we would all be amazed at what we could achieve!

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? I would LOVE the chance to show people what happens on the day-to-day happenings of a ranch. I truly think anyone who spends a day on the ranch with my father would immediately understand that we care for our cattle and the land. My dad’s passion for his cows and the land is contagious. I think that would help open their eyes to the fact that this industry is full of families, just like mine, who are committed to caring for the land. Idaho ranchers are true conservationists! We want the best for our livestock, and our land, and would never do anything to jeopardize the safety or health of either.

What are you most thankful for? I am thankful for my hardworking, loving husband who shares the same passion for the cattle industry as I do. I am thankful for my amazing family and friends. I am thankful for a school full of students who always keep me on my toes! And I am thankful for Idaho ranchers who care for our beautiful state while producing a delicious and nutritious product for the world!

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? Man, this has been a challenge for me! Growing up I would rather be outside helping dad than be inside cooking with mom. So needless to say, my husband has been a wonderfully patient guinea pig!  Thankfully with my genetics, there is no way I can be a bad cook—luckily I’m getting better by the day! I have found some great go-to recipes and my favorite would have to be The Pioneer Woman’s Sour Cream Noodle Bake. It’s delicious and easy to feed a crowd!

Sarah is very close with her parents, Stacey and Art, and tries to help them on the ranch as much as possible.

Sarah is very close with her parents, Stacey and Art, and tries to help them on the ranch as much as possible.

What is your favorite childhood memory? My favorite childhood memory is helping my dad AI cows on one of our Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allotments. We would set up a mobile breeding box every spring on a BLM allotment adjacent to the ranch. I would help him ride the range looking for cows that were showing signs of heat, then trail them back to the chute to be bred. I loved spending the time with my dad and learning about everything from the reproduction cycle of a cow to the history of the land. And it was a real treat when dad would find a horny toad to bring home and put in the aquarium (they never lasted long for some reason….)

What are some of your favorite pastimes and/or hobbies? Spending time with family is my favorite pastime. I have the cutest three nephews. My oldest nephew starts 4-H this year and our whole family is pretty excited to watch the next generation begin their career. I enjoy watching the junior shows around the state and our county fair and cannot wait to watch Wyatt this summer!

I also love exploring new places with my husband. Whether we are 20 miles from home on a Sunday drive or Mesa Verde National Park on our honeymoon, I love seeing new places and he is my favorite adventure buddy!

What is your favorite place to visit? I have always loved to travel. Growing up most of our family “vacations” were to deliver bulls, pick up a new herd sire, or dragging my steers and heifers to a junior show. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I enjoy exploring new country where ever that might be. However, after growing up and moving away from home and moving back again, I have found my favorite place to visit now is HOME. Spring Cove Ranch is the most beautiful place on earth and will always be my favorite spot to visit.

Be sure to keep up with Sarah’s daily life, by following her on Facebook and Instagram!

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life