Ag education teacher shares her passion for ranching with students
Ten Sleep Schools Ag Education Teacher and rancher Adrienne Forshee is proud to be a woman in ag and says the industry wouldn’t be where it is today without strong women working to provide for their families and advocate for ag.
“Women in ag can tell a story – we are the heart of this industry,” she says.
Adrienne grew up spending the summers with her grandparents in Fort Washakie and in the Lander area.
“I grew up with wonderful grandparents who made sure we all learned to work hard, how to work cows and my grandmother made sure all of us knew how to make a pie,” she says. “My grandmother taught me the value of being a ranch wife. She could save any sick calf and make a meal for a crowd all with love.”
“I have a very amazing extended family, and it kind of sparked my interest in ag,” she adds.
Adrienne was actively involved with FFA as a state officer in high school and got a degree in agricultural systems and technology and a degree in agricultural education from Utah State University. Adrienne chartered the FFA chapter in Ten Sleep in 2005 and became the ag advisor.
She married her husband Nathan in 2007, and joined him and his father on their family ranch. They own and operate a fourth-generation cow/calf operation, Forshee Land and Livestock, LLC, in the Hyattville and Ten Sleep area.
“We background our own calves and grow our own feed,” she says. “We feed corn, alfalfa/hay and grain rotation. We are always either ranching or farming, but we strive to do it as a family.”
The Forshees run cattle on U.S. Forest Service allotments, deeded and their private ground as well as winter cattle on Bureau of Land Management land.
“My father-in-law and husband have worked hard to put together an operation allowing us to open gates and let our cows walk to their pasture for the summer and the winter, at this point, we don’t ever have to haul,” she says. “This is a blessing.”
The Forshees are members of the South Paint Rock Cattlemen’s Grazing Association. They run a composite breed suited for higher altitudes and keep all of their own females.
The Forshees value family on their ranch.
“Our children are a huge part of our operation,” Adrienne says. “Without them, I am not sure we could accomplish our goals. My son is at the age where I have started letting him tell me what pasture I need to help gather or what I am doing with farming for the day.”
Adrienne teaches ag courses to seventh through 12th graders at Ten Sleep Schools.
“I teach an ag business and leadership class, three levels of animal science, three levels of horticulture including plant science and greenhouse management and then I have middle school agricultural courses – seventh grade is an introductory ag class and eighth grade is building on what they learned in seventh grade,” she says.
Since Ten Sleep Schools is a small school, the staff are able to cater to students’ education as much as possible, says Adrienne.
“In most of my classes, I actually teach three different lessons in each class, so there’s a lot of preparation going into a day here at our school and trying to get everyone involved, but it’s a privilege to teach here, and I am proud to do so, ” she says.
“I always knew I wanted to be a part of our ranch and also be with my own children, so it just worked out,” she adds. “It was a huge blessing and an opportunity.”
Adrienne says she has a passion for teaching students, and she acknowledges the importance of students learning where their food comes from.
“It shocks me when people don’t understand where their food comes from and how hard people work to provide food to them,” she says. “I feel it’s important to educate kids at a young age so they understand how ag production is happening locally and nationally, how they can be a part of the process and how they should participate in their own path in agriculture.”
Adrienne ensures her students are aware ag is the number one employed industry in the world, especially in the U.S.
“Understanding agriculture includes understanding science, business, technology and plant and animal production,” she says. “My students need to understand the environment and natural resource systems.”
Adrienne is an active member in agricultural teaching associations, including Wyoming Agriculture Teachers Association, Wyoming Career and Technical Education and National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE). She is excited to attend the NAAE National Conference this December.
Heart of the industry
Adrienne acknowledges the vital role women play in the ag industry.
“The women in the Ten Sleep area are the backbone of their family ranching and farming operations,” she says. “There are women around here who can work from sun up to sun down, and I’m proud to be one of them.”
Adrienne mentions many ranching women have jobs in town, like herself, but the minute they get home, they are changing into their jeans to help out on the ranch.
“When I get home from school, I am feeding 200 head of heifers,” she says. “My daughter goes with me, and I want her to see she is capable of doing hard work or anything she wants to do.”
She notes women in ag aren’t afraid to do the work themselves, and says this includes many of her neighbors and closest friends.
“Whether it is feeding, irrigating, farming or taking over a night shift during calving so their husband can rest, they are involved in every aspect of the operation,” she says.
These women are also part of a community support system.
“If somebody in our community is ill or facing a trial, we are the first to offer meals to other people,” she says.
Adrienne says women in ag work to ensure their ranch and their neighboring ranches are successful.
“In most true family ranching operations, the mom, the wife, the matriarch – they are definitely the heart of the operation,” she says.
Words of wisdom
Adrienne offers advice for young women in ag.
“Be patient with yourself and be forgiving. Laugh and enjoy what you do. Work smarter, not harder,” she says. “Figure out what works for you and go with that path. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.”
She recommends finding a group of women in ag who are willing to listen and offer suggestions.
“Find a group of women and ask questions to see what works in your area, what people have tried and what they haven’t tried, and always be willing to learn,” she says. “Find a group of ladies who understand your challenges and lift you up.”
“I have been blessed by many women in agriculture,” Adrienne says. “You have to pass the goodness on.”
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.