New Agrarian Voices

Learn about the impressions and experiences of each year's cohort of apprentices in their own words.





Joshua McKenna, APPRENTICE, Round River Resource Management, CO

First Reflections
April 2023

Growing up, I was told stories of the years my mom spent working ranches from horseback. The numerous adventures and exciting tales captured my imagination and it was with great pride that a three year old Joshua declared, “When I grow up, I want to be a cowboy!” Fate, it turns out, is quite artistic, since a couple years later, I wanted nothing to do with anything agricultural.

During my middle school and high school years, I was as far removed from agriculture as I could be, investing all my time into video games, movies, and TV. The closest I came was helping my sister with her horse’s stable fees by working the grounds and mucking stalls, a situation I absolutely despised. It wasn’t until leaving high school that I was put back in the saddle. Literally.

After high school, I took a gap year through a program called T.R.E.K., which was facilitated by the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. While I started out in their food service department, I quickly fell victim to cabin fever and began to look for an outdoors job. The only open position was as a wrangler for the on-site livery, Jackson Stables.

It was only a couple weeks into the job that an amazing moment happened. I was riding with the other wranglers, learning the trails. We were riding one called Moraine Park, which was named for the valley it took you through by the same name. It was a cloudy day, we had begun the descent into the valley. Just as we cleared the forest, i glanced up at the mountains. Pulling my horse to a stop, I could only stare in amazement as what seemed like a river of fog cascaded over the peaks and directly into the valley opposite of us. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen and it was at that moment that I knew. I was made for this.

Ever since, I have been on a journey to make animals and the land a permanent part of my life. I took jobs that allowed me to deepen my knowledge of livestock and to be out in wide, open country. I bought numerous books and read countless online articles. I spoke with people that were local to my area and reached out to experts for their opinions.

Now, as I begin my apprenticeship with NAP, I believe that the biggest thing I wish to gain is a career. I want to start the next chapter of my life, where the dream begins to materialize and I no longer have to keep wondering if it’s going to happen at all. Because I’ve been dreaming a long time and now, I want to make it a reality.

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