There are different ways you can break into the ranching business. However, if you are not born into a ranching family or near a ranching family to learn first hand knowledge than you might look into a ranching internship designed to give you that hands on approach to learning the ranching lifestyle and trade. There are domestic, within the United States and International programs available to students.
Internships are designed to expose students to real world working conditions with supervision. The valuable lessons are learned in real time with real situations. Most often students pay semester fees or internship fees to work for the facility. Occasionally a student can be accepted into a program that offers a paid internship, where they will make a minimal amount of money for their time working there.
When looking at internship decide first on where you want to be. There are opportunities throughout the United States and the world when it comes to internships. Then decide whether you want full or part time positions. Some ranches offer full time only and that may conflict with other college schedules.
A good word of advice is to have your resume and cover letter ready when looking into an internship. Many companies that are looking for interns are looking for those individuals that are ready to join the professional world. Be ready to work once you get the internships because they are expecting you to.
Some opportunities can be combined with your education. For instance some universities partner with local area ranches to have your supervisor report on what you have done and then follow up with you. Some institutions will also have you write a paper on your experiences and this allows you to receive a credit and letter grade for the internship.
The following are just a few of the opportunities that are out there. Watch the application dates and check with your university or college program to see if you qualify for credit for your experience.
IX Ranch Company
The IX Ranch Company in Big Sandy, Montana, offers internships to college students from agricultural universities that are interested in learning how to operate a successful cow-calf operation. Their ranch is located on over 120,000 acres in and around the Bear Paw Mountain range in North Central Montana. They have over 3,000 head of mother cows. Their internships are flexible around the student’s college curriculum.
The spring interns from March until May are involved in all aspects of the calving process. The interns will have duties that include; vaccinations, record keeping, doctoring cows and calves for sickness, night calving, processing calves and much more.
Their summer program revolves around June to August with the main focus on forage preparation and harvest. Making sure the livestock has enough to eat is a full time job to ensure proper weight gain. This time also includes placing older bulls with 3 year old and older cows in the middle of June for natural breeding service. These duties will include: fencing, moving cattle, doctoring cows and calves for sickness, bull placement irrigation, and much more.
The fall term from September to November is when the ranch is in full swing of preparing for calf weaning, shipping and pregnancy testing. The number one priority is animal health. The duties will include roping, animal doctoring, horse shoeing, corral work, breaking colts, and much more.
The winter months from December to February bring about preparing for calving and feeding the livestock. The bred cows are spread around the ranch depending on availability of feed and the heifer calves are fed a ration in the feedlot setting. Monitoring the calves to avoid sickness and reach appropriate breeding weights is the main goals. Some of the duties for an intern might include: horseback riding, animal doctoring, carpentry work/welding, equipment maintenance and much more.
To find out more on the IX Ranch Company Internship visit their website: www.ixranch.com.
Lone Creek Cattle Company
Lone Creek Cattle Company in Lincoln, Nebraska, offers a multitude of paid internships. Depending on what expertise of the cattle industry you are looking into, they provide an internship. Accounting, Ag Product Marketing, Ranch, Summer Ranch and Data Management are their paid internship programs. With the exceptions of the Ranch and Summer Ranch opportunities, which are in the Nebraska Sandhills, all others are in the Lincoln, Nebraska area.
Interns will gain on the job experience in their internships. Housing and utilities are provided in the ranching internships. Be ready to work if you are accepted into this internship because you will be experiencing hands-on training in ranching and ranch management in both the Ranch and Summer Ranch Internships.
You can apply to these internships by emailing a resume / cover letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org Or you can call 800-414-3407 to request an application.
The Kerr Center in Poteau, OK offers internships to students revolving around its sustainable livestock and organic horticulture demonstrations, education, and research. These internships are designed to appeal to college students and are structured with time for reading, personal research projects, and opportunities to attend educational events. A monthly stipend and housing is provided.
These are very limited internships. The acceptance process happens a good 9 months in advance, so look into these internships very early on.
Please contact: George Kuepper 918-647-9123 or email@example.com for further details.
Australia is a leader in foreign options for cattle internships. They are held on “stations” throughout Australia. Some of these stations are in the remotest parts of the country, and it may take two days to reach them. The stations may be 300km or 180-190 miles from their Post Office, Shop and Pub - and the Station may be more that 5,000 square miles and more than 150 kilometers from the nearest neighbor. Contact: www.australearn.org for more information.
Check into foreign options or study abroad internships with your college or university for more options. There are internships available throughout the globe to build on. Seeing the other parts of the world can be an experience in of themselves as well.
Some of the experiences in ranching internships before their entrance into the real world were vitally essential for some students before graduation. According to Jeremy Dunabr from Montana State University, his internship in 2005 with Bob and Julie Morton of Green Mountain Angus was instrumental in getting him ready for the real world. “At times things I have learned from a number of classes comes into play everyday, but it is really too difficult for me to try and recall just when and were these incidents have occurred. If anything my internship has helped me to become more confident in my skills and decision-making abilities. This gives me a lot of confidence when thinking about going out on my own running a ranch for someone else or even running my own ranch.”
He also points out that students need to, “Try and find an internship opportunity that will help you in your goals. You should find something that is not only enjoyable, but also help you learn and put into practice what you have learned.”
Check with some of our links and your local college as well for internship opportunities. You may also want to look at your local association websites for opportunities in the beef cattle industry or in opportunities that concentrate on your chosen breed. Whatever internship you take remember that this is an opportunity to develop and fine tune your skills for when you are out there on your own.