Jill Tregemba highlights the importance of mentorship in the agriculture industry
Wyoming Business Council (WBC) Agribusiness Development Manager Jill Tregemba was born and raised in Huntley where her family has ranched for several generations. Over the years, her family ran a cow/calf operation, raised yearlings, hayed and “everything in between,” says Jill.
“I have always been involved with production agriculture in some way,” she says.
Growing up, Jill was heavily involved with 4-H, FFA and livestock judging. Jill attended Laramie County Community College on a judging scholarship and then attended the University of Wyoming (UW) where she earned a degree in international agriculture.
She is a member of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA), UW Alumni Association, Goshen Cattlewomen, National Cutting Horse Association and the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation.
Jill mentions she had mentors along the way who helped her get to where she is today.
“Mentorship is all about people pouring into you and you pouring into people along the way,” she says.
Jill’s FFA Advisor Randy Eppler and 4-H leaders were some of her first mentors in the industry who made an impact on her young life. They pushed her to be her best while earning many national judging team honors.
Jill’s mother and her grandmother were also mentors, as they encouraged Jill to become involved with the Goshen Cattlewomen and taught her what it meant to be a woman in ag.
“Being involved with ag at a young age by doing daily chores and learning the value of responsibility from my dad really just set me on the trajectory of understanding opportunities in the industry as a whole,” she says.
During her college years, Jill had internships which shaped her future, one of these internships being with the late Jim Hageman in the Wyoming State Legislature.
“The internship fostered a love for policy, an understanding of cooperation between branches of government and recognition for leadership,” she says. “Jim was a great mentor, encourager, teacher and that didn’t stop when my internship was over. He always checked in on me and even attended my graduation ceremony at UW.”
Jill also had an internship with WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna.
“This was a really great experience, too, because I found a love for association and nonprofit work. Jim pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me about teamwork, policy, respect and listening before you speak,” she says.
After college, Jill did membership services for the Colorado Livestock Association.
“I had another mentor, Bill Hammerich, during this time,” she says. “He ran the association for many years, and I was able to meet a lot of people through the position,” she says. “I never wanted to leave Wyoming, but I was sort of forced to with the job market. It made me not only appreciate where I came from, but it opened my eyes. I gained valuable experience, and the mentors like Bill Hammerich and Barb Wilkinson really helped me along the way.”
After working for the association, Jill did corporate ag work for a while, and then she ran businesses with her husband Adam.
“We moved to Kansas where Adam is from, and we bought a feedstore and also ranched out there,” she says. “About 10 years later, we had an opportunity to come back home to Wyoming. Now we get to raise our kids on the same prairie I was raised.”
Jill wasn’t quite sure where she wanted to work when she moved back to Wyoming, but she knew she wanted to be purposeful in the steps she took and with her involvement in the industry.
“I went in for an interview for the position with the WBC not really fully understanding what it was I would be doing. Once we got to visiting, I understood how I could use the skills I had to make a true difference,” she says. “I wanted to make a difference for my own children, to give them opportunities, but also to do things purposefully for the industry and state I love.”
Now, Jill and her family live and ranch on the same road she grew up on. Jill is grateful for the opportunity to live near family members and work for the WBC.
“Working in ag economic development is about markets and removing barriers to growth for Wyoming ag, producers and business,” she says. “I get to live, work and play in the great state of Wyoming, and now I get to mentor people as well. It is a pretty good life.”
Jill says it is important for women to take chances, go for what they want and keep working hard in the industry.
“In Wyoming, we have a long list of outstanding women working on and off the ranch,” she says. “Women are a very important part of agriculture. Whether we are working at home, in town or somewhere in between shuffling kids or running meals, women are all involved and each has a different set of strengths and skill sets. It’s fun to see how people use those and can really make a difference in a positive way for the industry.”
“It’s great when people step out of their comfort zone or stretch the time they have to be involved,” she adds. “We’ve all heard it before: Those who show up make the decisions.”
Jill strives to serve as a mentor for others in the industry and be a positive voice of encouragement. She encourages young women to find a mentor.
“Find someone you respect and look up to and ask them questions,” she says. “Let them help you when it’s hard.”
She offers advice for young women in ag.
“Just be you,” she says. “Be proud of who you are, take ownership in this and find your path. Never give up.”
Jill encourages anyone with questions to contact her at email@example.com.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.