The Young Producers Council asked the leadership board to provide our readers with a little background information on themselves and their thoughts on the current beef industry. Today, we feature Sarah Baker of Custer County, Idaho. Here’s what she had to say…
My name is Sarah D. Baker and I’m happy to serve as your Federal Lands Committee representative for the YPC. I grew up on the East Fork of the Salmon River on my family’s cattle ranch, of which I represent the 6th generation of Bakers! We live in the middle of remote Custer County, which is comprised of 97% public lands! Thus, the use of public lands is essential to the survival of our family’s ranch. Without the ability to graze cattle on federal allotments during the spring & summer months, the ranch would not be able to sustain our family and future generations to come.
Because of the remote location of where I live (no cell phone coverage, mail delivered only twice per week, etc!) there are no shortages of issues to deal with: endangered species, federal lands grazing regulations, water rights, drought, and inclement weather are just a few that come to mind! The listing of salmon, steelhead, and bull trout under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), along with the re-introduction of wolves, have imposed numerous challenges to our management (and stewardship) of the ranch and public rangelands that we utilize.
I am very fortunate that I am able to live on the ranch and work in agriculture. I currently serve as the sole Extension Educator (some may know us as “county agents”) in Custer County. My job focuses primarily on beef production and range management, but I also provide leadership and programming in 4-H youth development, forage production, horticulture, and community development. It is great that I am now employed by my “alma mater”, the University of Idaho. I graduated from there with a Bachelor of Science in Range Livestock Management in 2002 and with a Master’s of Science in Meat Science in 2004.
I came to the University of Idaho Extension Office from the Idaho Beef Council, where I worked for over 4 years as the Program Director. My responsibilities there included developing consumer education programs, conducting beef producer education and beef check-off awareness programs, and developing retail and foodservice programs to help increase consumer demand for beef.
It is exciting for me to serve on the YPC board of directors for the 2nd year! I hope I can utilize my previous experiences to help advance the mission and goals of the YPC.
I was fortunate to be able to serve on the first slate of “interns” for the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show in Denver, Colorado in 2002. I was hooked after attending my first convention. I knew I had to return and become involved! The following year, I was selected again to help at convention, this time in Nashville, TN. Attending those two conventions, and learning about the policy-making process, and meeting NCBA staff and cattlemen from all over the country, really got me excited to get more involved. I was involved in my state association already, having served in leadership roles of the Student Idaho Cattle Association (SICA) while at college. I was selected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Idaho Cattle Association (ICA) in 2003, which was a huge honor for a “snot-nosed college student”, and a responsibility I took very seriously. I served on the Board for 4 years and on the Executive Committee for 2 years while I was Chairman of the Idaho Cattlewomen Council. These experiences afforded me the opportunity to become involved, make my voice heard, and really learn about the benefits of belonging to a state and national cattle organization.
I hope that my background and work experience in the cattle industry, coupled with my education, enthusiasm, and enormous passion for this industry, will help provide a significant contribution to Young Producer’s Council.