Kirkbride finds love of ranching
Cheyenne – Cheyenne rancher Dianne Kirkbride advocates for agriculture and the beef industry both in her involvement in industry organizations and in her everyday life.
While she did not grow up involved in agriculture, Kirkbride married her husband Jon in 1968 and quickly developed a passion for ranch life and promoting the industry.
“We moved to the ranch in 1972 following Jon’s four years in the Air Force. We were fortunate to be able to come back to the ranch and be a part of the many changes that have taken place in the beef industry over the past 44 years,” says Kirkbride.
After their children became adults, Kirkbride had the opportunity to work in town as staff assistant in Sen. Mike Enzi’s (R-Wyo) Cheyenne office.
“After our three sons were grown and two of them wanted to come back to the ranch, there was an opportunity for me to find a job town,” says Kirkbride.
She explains that her true joy comes from interacting with constituents and being able to use her past experiences to help the individuals who come into the Senator’s office.
Her experiences working in the political sector, while challenging at times, provide opportunities for Kirkbride to share her family’s story.
“It’s been an opportunity for me to work with a wide variety of people and at times to answer questions that come up about agriculture,” says Kirkbride. “I’m not a part of Sen. Enzi’s policy team, but there have been opportunities to answer questions on agriculture issues that have affected the ranch and the beef industry.”
Ensuring that local communities have strong hospital services is an important community platform for Kirkbride.
“There was a time period where I was on the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center Hospital Board, and I was honored to serve as chairman for two terms. It’s such an important part of our small communities to have a local hospital,” she says.
Kirkbride is also actively involved with the Wyoming Congressional Award Council, which encourages students ages 14-24 to make a positive impact on their communities.
“I also am active on the Wyoming Congressional Award Council. It’s just a great opportunity to have youth know the importance of being involved in their community and the value of hard work,” says Kirkbride. “I advise a number of students and am so proud of what the do and who they become.”
Kirkbride has been involved in promoting the beef industry for over 40 years through her participation in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, CattleWomen, Wyoming Stock Growers Association, National Beef Board and the Wyoming Beef Council.
She notes that her recent service on the Wyoming beef council was “a very rewarding experience and gave me a chance to promote the Beef Checkoff, which I feel has been an extremely beneficial program for our entire industry.”
Kirkbride also represents Wyoming on the Federation of State Beef Councils as a director and is the co-chairman of the Market Research Working Group.
She is active on the Federation’s Innovations Committee, which is a topic that is particularly fascinating for Kirkbride.
“It focuses on the consumer and what we need to do to keep our consumer interested in beef and encourage them to consume it more often. It’s a real challenge,” explains Kirbride.
Many things have changed in the beef industry and in consumer priorities, notes Kirkbride. The committee is focusing heavily on promoting beef to millennials and their families.
“We’re pretty focused on the millennials and trying to encourage them to use our product more often, learn different techniques when preparing beef and to serve it to their children,” she continues.
“I believe that women in agriculture are part of the basic the foundation of ranches and families,” says Kirkbride.
She commends women in agriculture for the many roles that they fill on a daily basis.
“I value how hard women work doing the many jobs that we ask them to do. We’re mothers, we’re wives, and we’re ranch hands, and yet we keep the home fires burning,” continues Kirkbride. “Plus, many of our country women also work outside of the home.”
It is important for women to meet their personal goals, while continuing to be a pivotal component of their families and operations.
“I support what women do and encourage them to fulfill their dreams and do the things that they want to do but also to continue to be an important part of the family and the ranch,” she says.
Kirkbride notes that the role women serve in agriculture has continued to evolve notably, even over the past 30 years.
“When we first came back to the ranch, women helped wherever they were needed and did lots of things, but I think women have become much more involved, particularly in the management end of ranching and the decision making. It has been a positive change,” explains Kirkbride.
While women have always been partners in ranching operations, Kirkbride explains that women are now taking an active role in every aspect of the operation.
“I think women are more partners in ranching than they were 30 to 50 years ago. I think they were involved and worked very hard, but I think now they are a part of every aspect of ranching,” she says. “That’s important because they have a lot to add.”
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached an firstname.lastname@example.org.