In Pursuit of a Beefy Passion
This week’s blog post was previously published on Tiffany’s personal blog, Tiffany Nicole and Co as a brainstorm during the development of a presentation she gave to the Veterinary Science Careers course at the University of Arizona.
Looking back, I now realize that I (sort of) had a cushioned and extremely lucky landing into my job at the Arizona Beef Council. I fully recognize this can be a rare phenomenon for most college graduates, but I’m so grateful for the good fortune that came my way. I prefaced my statement with “sort of” because I worked hard during my college career to make the connections and built relationships which offered me the opportunity to obtain my current position with the Arizona Beef Council. Today, I’m so extremely grateful to have been placed on this path because this job has led me to discover a passion I would never have known without it.
I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and open spaces and Arizona has no shortage of those things. Growing up, an affinity for the outdoors started while I worked at a horse training barn in exchange for riding lessons. I found myself counting down the days, hours, and minutes until I was released from the classroom and would be back outside, breathing in the scent of horses and fresh air. Caring for and riding horses is a love I began to develop as a youngster from my mother’s tales of her youth spent in the saddle, so when the time came for me to be afforded this opportunity, I was willing to put in the long hours required. In a horse barn is where I learned how to work hard, get the job done, and do it all with a pleasant attitude. I can further credit the University of Arizona and a great club, which was part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for encouraging my love for the open spaces of Arizona and for converting my love into a real passion for Arizona agriculture.
As many young college students do, I set my sites on vet school after completing my undergraduate career. Working outdoors was one major factor in my future path, so small animal medicine just wasn’t in the cards. As a result, livestock and a large animal practice is what I wanted to pursue. I did not have much large animal experience outside of horses, so I decided to join the Collegiate Cattle Growers Association. The group owned and managed a herd of cattle and hogs, which were bred each year with the end goal of raising show quality livestock that could be sold to 4H and FFA students. We also used the animals for judging practice for the University of Arizona’s Livestock Judging Team and offered hands-on animal husbandry experiences for students. As luck would have it, this was the perfect environment to pursue the path my heart called for and I so badly wanted to follow. Ultimately, I ended up learning, by and through the people I met and the experiences I obtained, is that what the universe had in store for me, actually far exceeded the original goal and expectations I had set for myself.
It has been an honor to be a part of this community and through various internships, meetings, and activities, I discovered that Arizona ranchers are some of the hardest working, most passionate, not to mention friendliest people on this planet. I also learned that agriculture was so much more than just the science, which, at first, was the personal interest I had focused on in college. It was about so much more…the land, the people, and the animals, and how they and it all worked together. Moreover, I learned caring for livestock requires more than just a focus on the animal, but a synergy with the land, the policies, the families, the neighbors, and the public. Finally, I understand that raising cattle wasn’t just a pretty photo of a grassy pasture, but a way of life and tradition, which requires all that you have to give.
Although representing Arizona beef farmers and ranchers is the technical description of what I do for the Arizona Beef Council, what I am really doing is helping secure, alongside the many other organizations, ranchers and supporters of the beef community, that there is ranching far into the future. It is my goal and our goal to ensure that beef is still at the center of your great-great-great grandchildren’s plate. For me, this isn’t just a job, it’s about ensuring the open spaces stay open and the steaks keep sizzling.