New Agrarian Voices

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

Rex Rutledge, APPRENTICE, Seacross Ranch, MT

REFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH

In college I jumbled around with a few different majors until I found biology. One of my first courses on my way to my biology degree was general ecology. I was hooked the very first day when Dr. Miller started rattling off facts about balanced environments and the complexities and relationships found in just a single hand full of soil. I knew I wanted to go into a career that was related to ecology, I just didn’t know what exactly. 

Fast forward about 18 months; I have graduated and fallen more in love with the science of ecology and I am now living on my family’s newly acquired small farm in southern Mississippi. My family never owned a sizeable piece of land and we were learning to care for goats and chickens while also working to give the property a facelift after years of neglectful prior ownership. I began teaching myself barbwire fencing, tractor operation, livestock care, and brush maintenance (lots of brush maintenance!). This work showed me that I really have a passion for this sort of work, which was outdoors, in harsh conditions, and working with my hands.

I knew needed to find an avenue in which I could combine my love and tenacity for hard outdoor work with my knowledge that I had just spend the last 4 years of my life obtaining. I came across a professor at a potential graduate program that was studying the ecology of Florida range land, specifically a working cattle ranch that was working to increase biodiversity and health of their lands. To me this was an unheard-of concept. I always viewed cattle ranching as a “take only” practice. I never viewed ranching as something that could boost the health of an environment. 

Well, things with that graduate program didn’t work out and I had a bit of a grudge against academia at the time. I figured “forget about doing the research at the ranches, I want to do the work. I want to be the person changing the way livestock is produced in this country”. I began looking into how I could enter the regenerative ranching industry and I came across NAP. It was a very exciting opportunity to come across and the NAP team paired me up with a wonderful ranch with two mentors that come from academic backgrounds. It has really been a dream come true to be a part of a ranching operation that is putting scientifically proven practices to work in a place where grasslands have been diminished by traditional cattle and beef production. 

By the end of my apprenticeship I hope to have gained a sense of how to operate a sustainable cattle ranch. I want to eventually take my skills and go back the South and introduce these concepts to ranchers in hopes of inspiring a sustainable ranching movement. I am striving to learn every facet of the trade and master what it takes to make a profit while also upholding my environmental responsibility I have in this world. 

More Voices

New Agrarian Voices – Peter Feehan

New Agrarian Voices – Peter Feehan

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New Agrarian Voices – Tyler Vandermark

New Agrarian Voices – Tyler Vandermark

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New Agrarian Voices – Susan Elder

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New Agrarian Voices – Natalie Berkman

New Agrarian Voices – Natalie Berkman

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New Agrarian Voices – Megan Schmidgall

New Agrarian Voices – Megan Schmidgall

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New Agrarian Voices – Jeane Stafford

New Agrarian Voices – Jeane Stafford

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New Agrarian Voices – Brady Lux

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New Agrarian Voices – Sam Schmidt

New Agrarian Voices – Sam Schmidt

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New Agrarian Voices – Noelle Mcdonough

New Agrarian Voices – Noelle Mcdonough

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New Agrarian Voices – Julia Loman

New Agrarian Voices – Julia Loman

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New Agrarian Voices – Ian Trupin

New Agrarian Voices – Ian Trupin

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New Agrarian Voices – Dylan Jones

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New Agrarian Voices – DeAnne Gabriel

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New Agrarian Voices – Dave LeFavre

New Agrarian Voices – Dave LeFavre

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New Agrarian Voices – Christopher Mellen

New Agrarian Voices – Christopher Mellen

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New Agrarian Voices – Charlotte Moore

New Agrarian Voices – Charlotte Moore

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