Women in Ag: Top Hand, Kara Kraich Smith

Kara Kraich Smith is a 4th generation rancher’s daughter raised in the sand hills of northeastern Colorado, where she’s still actively involved in her family’s stocker/feeder operation. She’s been an Idahoan for the past four years, after graduating from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor’s in Animal Science and a Master’s in Ruminant Nutrition from West Texas Tech, in Canyon, Texas. Upon moving to the Treasure Valley, Kara served as the Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator, before settling into a job with Newport Laboratories, where she currently works as their area Field Account Manager.

How are you involved in agriculture and/or beef industry today? My day job as the area field account manager for Newport Labs allows me to assist beef producers on a daily basis by partnering with them to solve animal health challenges through diagnostics and custom-made vaccines. I especially enjoy being the liaison between producers and veterinarians to help them with animal health issues they may be having on the ranch by coordinating diagnostic sample submissions and once the “bug” causing the problem has been identified, I work with ranchers and veterinarians to decide if a custom vaccine is right for their operation. In the Treasure Valley, I am also involved in organizations that support the beef industry—ICA, the Beef Council, Beef Counts and youth organizations shaping lives of young people who will be future leaders of our industry, including the working ranch project and FFA.

If you can’t find me out on the road with Newport Labs or in Boise, you will find my husband and me back on the ranch in Colorado. We spend as much time as possible helping on my family’s commercial stocker/feeder operation typically during branding, weaning, turning out in the spring and gathering yearlings in the fall to go into the feedyard. I still catch a sale with my dad from time to time and always enjoy helping wean calves in the fall. A wise woman once told me there is no one better than a lady to take care of high-risk weaning calves because we know which calves need to be pulled as “they look like they need a hug.”

How has your life been shaped by agriculture and/or beef industry? Agriculture has been the backbone of my life since I was born. My parents could always find me either horseback, in the calf pens or in the barn with all of my numerous critters! Agriculture and the western lifestyle are two things that I hold very near and dear to my heart and strive to better the industry every day in our cattle operation, employment and volunteer activities. Life lessons are best taught through trials and tribulations of hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, love of the land and God’s creations that epitomizes agriculture and the industry.

Kara and her husband, Jeff, will be celebrating their first year of marriage in the next coming weeks.

Kara and her husband, Jeff, will be celebrating their first year of marriage in the next coming weeks.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? Out of all of the many influences that have shaped me into the person I am today, one in particular stands out, and that’s my dad. He taught me to work hard, never give up, set a goal and don’t you dare quit until you reach it. He instilled a love for the western lifestyle and ingrained the lesson that we are the caretakers of the land and God’s creatures. He is as humble as they come, which is a quality of high regard, always drove home the concept that you should show respect and be deserving of it in return, and that honesty and integrity in your professional and personal life are above all important at end of the day. He exemplifies these qualities every day in the daily functioning of the ranch, involvement in the community and commitment to family. His lessons have served me well in every facet of my life and he was always supportive of my dreams from riding, roping, running yearlings, and he even put up with all the countless critters I brought home!

How do you provide encouragement to others? Encouragement can come in many verbal forms, but I prefer to lead by example. I’m of the mindset I cannot ask or encourage anyone to do something that I am not willing to do myself. Hard work and living a life that others can respect sets the stage to provide words of encouragement to others.

Kara always feels right at home on the back of a horse.

Kara always feels right at home on the back of a horse.

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? Food is extremely personal to everyone and that is no exception to agriculture producers. We take immense pride in our role as caretakers of the land and animals and we strive to provide high quality, nutritious food to our families and yours. Every chance I get I share my story to an unsuspecting bystander (a little part of me feels a touch bad for the person sitting next to me on the airplane), but I encourage everyone involved in production agriculture to share their story. Consumers do want to hear from us; the vast majority do not understand what we do or how we do it.

What are you most thankful for? Being born and raised in the agriculture industry and having the privilege to work in it every day. I am truly blessed to be able to talk to beef producers across the United States, while being surrounded by and supported by loving family and friends. Life’s little treasures are watching the sunrise while gathering a pasture on a cool summer morning, long chats with family and friends while enjoying the sunset over a hot meal, helping a young person achieve their goals, and the opportunity to be involved in and shape the future of the industry I love.

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? I have to admit, my husband does the majority of the cooking when we are not on the road with our jobs. He’s a phenomenal cook and his Ribeye steak on the grill is by far my favorite.

However, when I do cook, the Crockpot is my go to, typically pot roast or stew, especially when it’s cold outside. For a special occasion, chicken friend steak with mashed potatoes and gravy would be at the top of the list.

Kara2What is your favorite childhood memory? Going to the sale barn with my dad. As a cattle buyer’s daughter I was immune to foul language, the smell of a sale barn and the hum of an auctioneer. But all of the cattle buyers always made a little girl with pigtails feel like she was at home. After a long day of writing down all the lots dad had bought and maybe catching a nap on the bench at the top of barn, I could always be cheered up by a Butterfinger from the sale barn owner.

One of my other favorite ranch memories was qualifying for the national high school rodeo finals on a mare we raised on the ranch. We are now raising colts out of her and they all are being used on the ranch.

What are your guilty pleasures in life? A good glass of red wine and anything made with peanut butter (sometimes a girl needs them together).

What are some of your favorite pastimes and/or hobbies? A quote from Augustus McCrae sums it up pretty well; “Ain’t nothing better than riding a fine horse through new county.” Other hobbies are breakaway roping, team roping, ranch rodeos, raising ranch horses, showing cow horses and ranch horse versatility shows—pretty much anything with horses and cattle!!

Be sure to follow along with Kara’s life in ag, on Facebook, and Twitter!

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life


  1. So proud of this woman and all she has accomplished. I am so proud to call her one of my truest best friends whom I have known since kindergarten. Her love of the beef industry is truly inspiring I hope my children learn the love of agriculture like Kara has.

  2. I am proud of all the things you have accomplished in you young age. Keep on going as the example that you are.!!
    Look out world here she comes.

  3. Kara, I am so proud of everything you have accomplished and all that you will accomplish. You and I have know each other all our lives and our dad’s go that far back as well. I can’t wait to see what heights you reach in the future, Kirby!

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