Ochsner serves as ag-vocate
While continuing her studies in college, Katie Ochsner is positioning herself to be a leader in the agriculture industry. Currently serving as president of the Wyoming Junior Hereford Association (WJHA), Ochsner is a passionate advocate for agriculture and her preferred breed of Hereford cattle.
“I grew up on a registered Hereford and Angus ranch 15 miles north of Torrington,” says Ochsner. “Growing up, I helped out however I could on the ranch and started showing in 4-H when I was old enough. My showing preference were Herefords due to their docility.”
Her family ranch, George Ochsner and Sons Ranch, is an operation run by her grandfather, two uncles and father. The ranch runs both registered Hereford and registered Angus cattle.
“The whole operation is literally run by my family,” continues Ochsner. “Family members are the only full-time employees on the ranch. My brother plans on returning after he graduates from college.”
Preparing for a career
After graduating from high school, Ochsner attended Casper College where she received her associates in agriculture business. She was also a member of the livestock judging team, an activity she continued to be involved in after she transferred to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL).
“Judging has been such a great experience,” says Ochsner. “It gives you the opportunity to meet a lot of people in the agriculture industry and the skills that you gain are invaluable. These activities helped me to gain public speaking skills and general knowledge of the industry.”
Being recognized for her skill as a livestock judge, Ochsner has already been asked to judge multiple shows this summer.
Currently studying at UNL, she is pursuing a degree in animal science with a business option and a minor in leadership and entrepreneurship. She is also an active member of the livestock evaluation team and Block and Bridle at UNL.
In November, Ochsner received her American FFA degree and will be completing her FFA showing career this summer.
“I just couldn’t give up showing,” Ochsner laughs.
Through showing, Ochsner has also built up her own herd of show cattle, which boasts just over 20 head of purebred Herefords. This has also increased her knowledge and passion for beef production.
“Having my own show cattle gives me a new appreciation for all the things that I need to know in order to successfully raise cattle,” she adds.
Not losing any of the momentum that she built up during the academic year, Ochsner is currently interning at First State Bank in Torrington, spearheading Field Day for the WJHA and taking online classes.
Leadership in WJHA
Ochsner currently holds the title of president for the WJHA. She has been involved with this organization for 12 years, joining the same time she began 4-H.
“This is a great association that gets youth involved in the breed that they are passionate about,” says Ochsner.
Ochsner’s latest project is preparing for the Field Day that the junior association hosts annually. This show is open to anyone who would like to exhibit his or her Hereford cattle and will be held June 19–20 in Laramie.
“As president of the WJHA, I am responsible for running the meetings,” says Ochsner, “but my main task is helping to put on the Field Day. The WJHA is responsible for getting sponsors, creating the classes and compiling all of the entries.”
In addition to showing at and helping to put on the Field Day, Ochsner has also showed at the National Junior Hereford Association shows.
Looking to the future
“I want to remain involved in my ranch, but I also want to have a career outside of that,” says Ochsner of the future. “I can see myself working for a breed association or working in Extension. Regardless of what career field I wind up in, I will always be an advocate for agriculture.”
Ochsner is also keeping an eye on the global markets and has traveled internationally through UNL to study agriculture in different countries. She just returned to the U.S. from a trip to Ireland, where she and her classmates studied local entrepreneurial businesses.
She will be traveling overseas once again in December to study the wool, wine and dairy industries in New Zealand.
“Agriculture is really becoming a globalized industry and the demand for exports has increased to feed the world population,” says Ochsner. “There is a looming question in agriculture right now – how are we going to feed the growing population with limited resources? I believe this will require continued innovation and conservation in the agriculture industry, and I am confident that the next generation of agriculturalists is capable of meeting this demand.”
Kelsey Tramp is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.