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Women Who Weld

Ten years after becoming a proud member of the Ironworkers Union Local 377, Diana decided it was time to be her own boss. Venturing out on her own to open DC Metal Work, a metal fabrication company that’s stood tall amongst a male dominated field. 15 years later, Diana’s deep sense of accomplishment is why she’s always eager to provide other females with the encouragement and gentle nudge they might need to join the trades. She even shares her welding chops and experience with students at the Oakland-based school of crafts, The Crucible. That is, when she isn’t too busy passing down the blue-prints to the way around the workshop to Diana’s 9-year- old daughter Lucy.

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Ranchers Lilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz

Lilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz: best friends, fellow fiddlers, and Montana natives lead beautiful ranching lives. Lilly is 5th generation from Gallatin County and Morgan is 4th generation from Beayerhead County. Both are rooted deep in family ties and find their peace behind the reigns. Lilly and Morgan have been riding for as long as they’ve been able (on the ranch, that translates to around 4 years old). They are independent, strong, and skilled.

“It isn’t unusual for me to be the only woman at brandings, gathering cows, etc., and because my mom is so capable and that was just the norm, it wasn’t until I was 20 or so that I stepped back and realized how amazing the example she set for me is. I have never seen my gender as a limiting factor, which is common in ranching families, because women are expected to work too. However, there are plenty of men in agriculture as well who will try to do your job for you because they are so traditionally minded that they can’t see how a woman could do a man’s job. Nothing feels better than having a better horse, roping better, or being more helpful than that man that looked down on you. My attitude about this no doubt comes from my mom. She has never been a self-proclaimed ‘feminist’ but I now realize that she embodies everything that a capable woman should. She can fix fence and then cook an amazing meal at the end of the day, which is what ranch women are about. And the coolest part about it is that she has never pointed to gender as a factor, she simply does things. It’s really hard to respect yourself when you are actively having to remind yourself to do so, which is what a lot of women do because they didn’t have an example like my mom. My mom engrained it in me so I don’t have to think about it. Even though I am not doing daily ranch work right now, this has served me in so many ways in my life. I have a significant other that treats me like an equal, my peers respect me, I treat myself with respect, I’m not afraid to ask for what I want…the list goes on and on. My dad married my mom because she is so capable, which makes me feel very lucky” -Lilly Brogger 

“One of the biggest misconceptions I deal with is people come to Montana and they think this is a state full of "big rich farmers and ranchers” when really that couldn’t be further from the truth. Production agriculture is a tough career to jump into and most of us that are in it don’t do it for the money I can tell you that. We do it because our families did it and we love the lifestyle. There is a lot of risk in production agriculture. The weather, politics, and society drive the price for our product and it is totally out of our control. Agriculturalist have a thankless job. We work our fingers to the bone and hardly ever turn a profit- in fact it is often lots of us operate at a loss but we pick ourselves up- stretch last year’s income a little further, and pray that next year’s crop prices are better. We do all of this while continually being criticized by today’s society and the kicker is- most of the people who criticize us wouldn’t even last a day working along side us. Producers owe their everything to the land and the animals they raise. We would never take that blessing for granted. That food in the grocery store came from average people like me and the Brogger family and a lot of that stuff may have even come from Montana. We are the number 1 producer of lentils in the nation and we are in the top 10 for beef production.“ -Morgan Kuntz 

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The Wild ‘N’ Wooly rodeo team are roping experts. Cowgirl Joette Donnel has a few tips to share about practice before any competitions.

Keys to Roping Practice:

  • Focus on keeping your horse correct.
    - riding good position
    - keep your horse keyed in on your cues, this is important for changes in speed and     direction
  • Working well with your teammates.
    -Understand your teammates and how they will respond to changes during your run.
  • Being aggressive and accurate with your roping.
    -Precision equals success
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Ranch Rodeo Practice Tips From Team Wild ‘N’ Wooly:

1.) Learn to work together!
2.) Having a plan for any changes that may happen.
3.) Know the best technique and leverage to be fast but efficient for handling cattle on the ground to doctor or tie them down.
4.) Communication is key! Teams that talk to each other work much better together.
5.) We really focus on where everyone’s position is while we are roping a steer. Everyone has a place and a secondary position in case one of us should miss.