Tag: Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission

Women in Ag: Rangeland Resource Commission Director, Gretchen Hyde

Gretchen grew up on a farm and ranch in Emmett, Idaho. After graduating from college, Gretchen worked at Agri Beef Co. for the better half of a decade, before becoming the first-ever Executive Director for the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission (IRRC).

How are you involved in agriculture and/or beef industry today? My job entails promoting and educating the public about rangeland management, grazing issues, and livestock production. This includes designing, developing and implementing programs which lead to increased support for livestock grazing on public and private rangelands in Idaho. Partnering with other organizations, I have developed educational programs and curriculum for FFA, middle and high school science, elementary science, Idaho history booklets, and posters for the classroom. Promoting the importance of managed grazing of Idaho’s rangelands is a challenging, but rewarding venture. As an office of one, I collaborate with partners and volunteers who have the same passion for educating the future citizens about rangeland and livestock. In the last few years, the IRRC has produced more than 30 videos about ranchers doing positive things for wildlife, rangeland and the economy of Idaho on the Life on the Range website.

How has your life been shaped by agriculture and/or beef industry? I loved working on the ranch for my dad. As far back as I can remember, I would beg to go to the ranch with him. Working hard, being productive and efficient, and caring for the land and livestock has been engrained in my soul. While in college, I planned on becoming a CPA. After spending several years working as an accountant, I learned I needed to get outside and do more with the ranching community. Every step of my life has included the livestock industry in some way.

The Hyde family celebrates Drew's senior night.

The Hyde family celebrates Drew’s senior night.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? My father and grandfather were both been instrumental to my knowledge and passion for the livestock industry. My grandfather, David Little, who passed in 2002, inspired me to change careers in 1997. A huge benefit of my job was that it allowed me to learn from my grandfather as an adult. He gave me both support and valuable advice when it came to politics, rangeland issues, and people. He was a master at seeing the big picture and looking for solutions. My father, Jim Little, has always been my mentor (whether he knows it or not). He leads by “doing” not just by “talking.” I am always challenged to be a better person by his example.

How do you provide encouragement to others? When I first started working for the IRRC, there were several “nay-sayers” who tried to discourage me in developing successful outreach and educational programs on rangeland. They said “nobody really cares about rangeland, but ranchers.” People from all walks of life love rangeland. Recreationists, wildlife enthusiasts, and nature lovers have become natural partners in areas that were never expected. I encourage people to be brave in their vision and to take a chance at making new partnerships. I encourage others to reach out to new allies and partners to find common goals and outcomes. Ranchers are a tiny fraction of the population and need the support of other rangeland users to continue to graze on public lands. I encourage anyone with a passion for the livestock industry to speak up and be proud. We need more spokespeople who will reach out and tell their story.

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? I craft messages for specific audiences. The one thing I have found is that keeping it simple is very important. For the more urban audience, fostering an understanding that people who live on the land must take care of that land to survive both ecologically and economically. Ranches are long-term investments which can only improve with proper management. Rangelands are dynamic systems with impacts far beyond livestock grazing. Land management is essential for healthy landscapes for all users. Livestock grazing is an important part of rangeland management. Managing fuel loads, invasive weeds, and wildlife habitat with livestock is an effective tool. The hardest part of this message is the variations of rangeland types, historical impacts and other users. If you ask a scientist a question about rangeland management, their typical response is “it depends.” That doesn’t cut it for a majority of the public. They want simple and straight forward answers. With that said, it is critical that a basic understanding about the ecology of rangeland is provided at a young age so that citizens can decipher the dilemmas of the contemporary public land issues. Without an underlying knowledge (that most ranch kids have), their decisions will be based on misconceptions and myths.

Participants of the 2015 Rangeland Skill-a-thon.

Participants of the 2015 Rangeland Skill-a-thon.

What are you most thankful for? I am thankful for the opportunity to share my passion and stay involved in the livestock industry. Promoting and educating the public about the important work ranchers do every day is a gift that I never take for granted.

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? My favorite meal is a smoked tri-tip steak, green salad and homemade bread. It’s simple, easy and delicious!

What is the first thing you do when you walk into a grocery store? I check out the meat section. I love trying new cuts and seeing what customers are buying (or not). I often find great deals on new cuts because consumers don’t know how to cook them. It also is an opportunity to visit with other consumers.

What are your guilty pleasures in life? When I can find time, my favorite thing to do is ride my horse in the foothills near our home. Getting out on the range restores my soul, clears my mind, and invigorates my creative juices.

These days, Vandal games are a family affair, with son Luke playing as Fullback.

These days, Idaho Vandal games are a family affair, with son Luke playing for the team as Fullback.

What are some of your favorite pastimes and/or hobbies?  My other passion is my kids and youth sports. Both my boys were active in sports in school. My husband is a principal and coach. I enjoy going to the games, helping in any way I can, and supporting the teams. My youngest son has been lucky to continue to play football at the University of Idaho. Attending his games has made the transition to “empty nest” much easier.

You can follow Gretchen personally on Instagram and Twitter. The Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission, and Life on the Range, can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Lifestyle, Ranch Life