Kendall Roberts highlights importance of women in the agriculture industry
Kendall Roberts grew up on a cow/calf operation outside of Cheyenne. She is the second generation on the King Ranch Company, L.P., and is the third-generation rancher in her family.
Kendall attended the University of Wyoming (UW) and got her bachelor’s in ag business and master’s in ag economics.
She interned with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture in 2008 and went to Washington D.C. for an internship with the National Association of Conservation Districts as their legislative intern from January through May of 2009.
After graduating in 2011, Kendall came back to the ranch and has been there full time ever since. Kendall and her husband James work on the family ranch and also have a small Red Angus cow/calf operation intermingled with the rest of the family’s cow/calf operation.
Kendall says figuring out how to feed and clothe more people with less land, less water and less people in the ag industry is a challenge for producers across the world. This is a challenge Kendall faces head-on every day.
“More and more women are stepping up to the challenge because we know we can do it,” she says. “It is very exciting to see, especially now when we can ban together and have a united front and do the best we can for the industry.”
During her time at UW, Kendall was involved with the Sigma Alpha Sorority.
“The sorority focuses on the pillars of making sure you’re developing leadership, scholarship and fellowship,” she says.
Kendall served in the collegiate level as well as three years on the national executive team for the sorority. She served as treasurer, secretary and finance chair.
“I am still an active alumni today of the organization,” she says. “I also serve the local UW Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, working with them to do presentations and ranch tours to make sure they get some experience outside of the classroom.”
Kendall serves as the ag and rural representative for the Wyoming Seat Belt Coalition to give a perspective of ag safety and the importance of buckling up in the state of Wyoming.
“The ag industry is always affected, whether it’s traveling on rural roads or safety issues with tractors and equipment,” she says.
She has also served on the overseeing advisory committee for the UW Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Lingle for five years.
Kendall has been a member of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) since she was old enough to join. She served as the marketing transportation co-chair for three years, and is an active member of the Young Producers Assembly (YPA).
She is currently a member of the Wyoming Farm Bureau out of the Laramie County area.
The YPA is a group of young WSGA members who came together to create a place of learning, camaraderie and friendly-family atmosphere while advocating for Wyoming’s cattle industry.
Kendall has been an active member in YPA since its start in 2015.
“I was approached by the leadership of the WSGA in the fall of 2015 to start developing some sort of way to get young producers and young people in agriculture to become more involved and hear their voice,” she says. “We got a large group together and from there we decided to start the YPA with focus on opportunities for us to develop leadership and growth for young people who are passionate about the livestock industry in Wyoming.”
Kendall was selected to chair YPA from 2015 to 2016 and was selected to serve as the president of YPA from 2016 to 2018. She served both those years as president of YPA, board member and executive officer as the YPA representative to WSGA.
She currently serves as the YPA Region Two representative covering Albany, Laramie, Platte and Goshen counties. Kendall is also the YPA public relations and media chair.
“YPA is still growing – we are still trying to work and develop the program, and serving as the Region Two representative was an opportunity to go from the large picture to working on regional development from my area,” she says.
Kendall says the times are changing in the ag industry – more women are becoming involved.
“Their passion for ag is becoming more prominent than ever,” she says.
Kendall says she was raised in a family where if a man could do it, so could a woman.
“I grew up on a family operation that encouraged myself and younger sister to be involved in the operation,” she says. “We also were involved in FFA and 4-H which instilled even more the importance of women being involved in ag because it developed opportunities to really develop and hone in what we loved most about ag or specific niches from the big picture of ag.”
“I’m able to keep chugging along because opportunities present themselves more and more for women, and we should take advantage of that,” she says.
Recognizing women in ag
Kendall says women in ag should be recognized for their efforts and what they do for the ag industry.
“We just want to do our job and produce our product, and sometimes we are OK with flying under the radar, but there are some women out there who really set an example and should be recognized,” she says.
Women are becoming more involved with ag organizations, trade organizations, marketing developing programs, etc., says Kendall.
“It’s important to recognize them because they’re serious about their efforts,” she says.
“It’s amazing to think we have come so far as women in ag, and it was because of someone doing it before us and they should be recognized because if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here,” she says.
Advice for future
Kendall offers advice for young women in ag.
“My family motto is assume nothing,” she says. “Assuming something is always going to come your way and can set you up for disappointment. Assume nothing is going to be easy or handed to you and nothing will be as simple as it seems. Work hard and dedicate the time.”
She advises young producers to learn about different aspects and facets of the ag industry.
“Don’t just learn about one part of the industry,” she says. “Learning more makes you more of a well-rounded individual and helps you see things from a different perspective instead of being narrow-focused.”
She advises young producers to be prepared for hard times and challenges.
“People will expect you to back down because it’s too hard, but you have to keep trying,” Kendall says.
“Step up to the challenge,” she adds. “Without people stepping up, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Kendall says her favorite quote is from former Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead. He said, “Always take the long loop.”
“You need to check every corner and make sure you don’t leave anything behind,” she says. “Because if you forget, it will come back to you and you will have to work twice as hard to catch up. I live by this every day.”
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.