Beef Producer. Butcher. College Student.I grew up on a six generation beef operation in Weyers Cave, Virginia. My family has a commercial cow/calf herd and we background our weaned calves. I grew up showing livestock and being heavily involved in 4-H and FFA which lead me to continue pursuing agriculture and the beef industry as a career. I am currently a senior at Virginia Tech, majoring in Animal and Poultry Sciences with a minor in International Trade and Development. During my time at Virginia Tech, I have gotten involved with clubs such as Beef Leadership Council that exist to promote beef production and consumption. I have also had internship opportunities with the Virginia Beef Industry Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to help educate about beef related concerns.
When I am not in class I can typically be found at the Virginia Tech Meat Center where I work in the the harvest, fabrication, processing, and retail sales of beef, pork, and lamb. I take a lot of pride in being a female in the animal agriculture field because it is a unique opportunity. People in the general public as well as within agriculture do not typically associate females with some of the jobs that I do, especially on the meat processing side of the industry. I love getting to see people's faces when I tell them that I work in a butcher shop. There is always a little shock. My favorite part of my work is getting to learn a trade that is fairly uncommon while also getting to see the research and teaching aspect, which helps give me more insight into meat processing beyond just cutting the meat.
I think as women in the beef industry it is very easy to keep ourselves in our comfort zone and let others take the lead on things that we might not feel very comfortable with. I know growing up I always looked to my brother and dad to be able to do the tasks that I did not feel capable of doing. I am finally at a point where I know that the only way I will learn how to do things myself is just by stepping up with a "fake it 'til you make it" attitude. This change has come around both partially by necessity, but also by conscious effort. I have really been able to gain so many new unique skills by telling myself that being capable is not really optional. Being a female in agriculture is in no way some big barrier that has to be overcome, but there are certain ways that peoples' mindsets still need to shift, including my own some days.