Women in Ag: Range Management Specialist, Brooke Jacobson

Brooke was raised ranching and farming with her family in Billings, Mont., where they own a cow-calf operation and a custom grain-harvesting business. She attended the University of Idaho, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Rangeland Ecology and Management Degree in May 2014 (Go Vandals!!). While going to school in Moscow, Brooke was an intern for the UI Rangeland Center. She claims to have fallen in love with Idaho’s places and people, easily making the decision to call the Gem State “home.” She has worked for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) since the summer of 2014.

How are you involved in agriculture today? I’m a Range Management Specialist with  ISDA, based out of Boise. I have the privilege of working together with livestock producers, land and natural resource management staff, and extension personnel to help ensure the sustainability of Idaho’s working landscapes. I review federal and state resource management documents, and provide technical support to a number of advisory boards and task forces. Another role I serve at ISDA is partnering with grazing permittees, BLM staff, and extension educators around the state on a cooperative rangeland photo monitoring program. I enjoy getting to work with producers and managers who are passionate about the health of the land and who use domestic grazing as a tool to manage plants, wildlife, and the host of other resources that rangelands provide. I also serve as treasurer for the Idaho Section of the Society for Range Management. I take every opportunity I can to visit with friends on their farms and ranches here in Idaho or take trips to visit my family to help with harvesting and ranching.

How has your life been shaped by agriculture? I was raised working alongside my parents and three siblings on my family’s cow-calf operation and custom grain-harvesting business. My grandparents on both sides farmed in North Dakota, and my parents started their own business from the ground up. Just some of the things that my up-bringing taught me and that agriculture continues to instill in me are the value of community, ingenuity, hard work, integrity and communication. Ranching in South Dakota and then Montana, and working with ag producers from Texas to the Canadian border while on the grain harvest taught me there is always something to be learned from someone else’s experience or perspective, whether it be in agriculture, business or in personal life!

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? I will always be inspired by my parents. My mother’s hard work and endless encouragement while cooking meals for the harvest and ranch crew, running to town to get parts, substitute teaching, all while raising four kids also inspired me! I’ve been gifted with many great mentors and peers that continually support and teach me in my rangeland career. One of these is my college advisor Karen Launchbaugh. Another is John Biar, my predecessor at the Department of Agriculture. John is a great mentor not only for the wealth of experience and knowledge he generously shares, but also in encouraging me to always keep my relationship with Jesus Christ as my first priority, family second, and work next.

A family picture taken during wheat harvest. The picture includes Colleen and Rodney Jacobson, and her three older siblings and their families, which have since grown threefold. She now has 6 nieces and nephews, with another on the way!

A family picture taken during wheat harvest. The picture includes Colleen and Rodney Jacobson, and Brooke’s three older siblings and their families, which have since grown threefold. She now has 6 nieces and nephews, with another on the way!

How do you provide encouragement to others? We each have unique strengths and ideas to contribute, and I try to practice and use my abilities while creating opportunities for others to exercise theirs. I also like to encourage others through authenticity and shared laughter!

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? I would encourage those who have questions about agriculture and food production to go straight to the source for information. It’s easy to get bogged down in false information and misconceptions, but it’s much more productive to ask farmers and ranchers about what they do for a living and why they do it. The families and businesses that provide the U.S. and the world with food and fiber have the same concerns as the consumer; they want to provide their children healthy food and a future. The agriculture community has made great strides in telling their story, but there is always room for more of these conversations. Just as food production technology is needed to feed a growing world population, producers’ communication needs to increase and improve to reach a growing urban population and meet the challenges and opportunities provided by social and mass media.

What are you most thankful for? I’m first and foremost thankful for my family and their love and support as I pursue my passion in rangeland management. I’m grateful for the opportunities provided to me by my job to work in agriculture and natural resources, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the hospitality and warmness of Idahoans.

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? “Cowboy beans” is a family favorite. Just brown ground beef and add canned BBQ beans, and then fix an easy side-dish, fried potatoes or whatever else is available around the house or cow-camp. It’s a quick meal that can get everyone sitting at the table for a few minutes in the middle of a busy day.

What is your favorite childhood memory? Most of my best memories involve working with my family. Branding and the beginning of the harvest season were two of my favorite annual events. Branding brought neighbors together for a day of work and fun, and there’s nothing like traveling hundreds of miles across the plains and driving the combine into the first field of the summer’s wheat harvest.

Photo Credit: Darby Linares Gebauer

Photo Credit: Darby Linares Gebauer

Favorite store to shop in? I’m a sucker for antique stores, especially in small towns. They can give you a window into the area’s history, plus there’s the treasure-hunt factor when you make a great find!

Favorite place to visit? The Black Hills area in western South Dakota is one of my favorite destinations. My family ranched and farmed for 10 years there, and I really enjoy the landscapes, agriculture and history in the region. I don’t make that trip as often as I used to, but it’s always a treat to catch up with friends there.

Be sure to follow Brooke on both Facebook, and Instagram!

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen, Lifestyle