Beth Blevins - Born and raised in Cut Bank, Montana, I had never seen snow stack up on fence posts until I went to college at Carroll College, in Helena. Horizontally falling snow with big drifts is the norm in Cut Bank. After graduating from veterinary school at Colorado State University, I completed a large animal internship at Washington State University and was ready to return to Montana. After much prayer and a float trip down the Grand Canyon as a deckhand, I took a position as an associate veterinarian at Veterinary Services, just north of Ronan.

Though I left that practice, I never left the beautiful Mission Valley. I married Craig Blevins on June 1, 1991, and we lived on his family’s ranch until December 1997, when we bought a house on 70 acres and started our own registered Angus herd. Michaela, our daughter, was 3 1/2 years old and our son Ethan was born in March of 1998. I started my own veterinary practice in 1994 when Michaela was 4 months old, and she rode with me. Craig became my veterinary assistant.

When we purchased our land, the previous owner was insured through Mountain West Farm Bureau Insurance, and we continued with those insurance policies through Mountain West. Much to our surprise, we found Mountain West was a benefit of membership in the Montana Farm Bureau when Bill Meadows invited us to the annual meeting in 1998. After a rousing speech from Jake Cummins, we were hooked and have been active members ever since.

Shortly after we became active, I was elected as the WLC District 1 representative. I have also served on the Livestock Committee and the Animal Health Committee, representing Montana on the AFBF Animal Health Committee for 3 years, 2 as a member and the third as committee chair. As animal welfare became a big concern for the public and public scrutiny of animal care by the 4H and FFA youth at the fair increased, I thought providing buckles for Herdsmanship would encourage a higher level of care as it did at the Marias Fair when I was growing up, showing my horse. We started donating buckles for Herdsmanship at the Lake County Fair, then expanded to include Sanders County Fair and the NW Montana State Fair in Kalispell. The buckles do seem to encourage a higher standard of care at the fairs and, as a result, a better perception of farm animal care to the public.

A lighter side of my participation has been being a judge for the Farm Dog of the Year contest for 3 years. The human-animal bond is strong! Drone footage of dogs trailing cattle and seeing dogs working sheep elucidates just how much help these 4 legged partners are!

Cooking for the Missoula Ronald McDonald House over the years humbles me as I realize how blessed I have been. Many women have cooked with me and cooking together builds our relationships as well as the brief relationships we have with the residents of the House, hearing their stories and sharing our story of agriculture.

The training I received in the AFBF Women’s Communications Boot Camp, which I attended several years ago, is a whirlwind trip through ACE! It covers much of what ACE covers but in days instead of over the course of a year. The longer course of the training allows for much more insight and development of ideas than the whirlwind of Communications Boot Camp. A desire to flesh out what I learned in Boot Camp and to put more of that training to use inspired me to apply to participate in ACE. An amazing side benefit has been the strong camaraderie and relationships built with my classmates and the leaders of the class.

One of the biggest challenges I see to agriculture going forward is the aging population of agriculturalists. We need young people to be able to come into agriculture and make a good living as an agriculturalist. All of the young people I know in agriculture have an off-the-farm job for earning a living and then do agriculture as their passion in life. Many are ag-related jobs, but they are jobs requiring time off the farm/ranch. The corollary to this problem is the rising cost of agricultural land. An ag income definitely cannot supply enough income for living expenses and purchasing land. Finding value-added products and diversification methods to help provide an additional income stream are some avenues to explore. Being involved in the legislative process, ensuring as much as possible that legislation detrimental to agriculture does not pass, is another avenue, and being involved in leadership ourselves completes the picture. As our first ACE speaker, Bruce Vincent, a logger from Libby, so eloquently said, “The world is run by those who show up.” I want to show up for agriculture, for our young people, for the future of the world. ACE equips me to show up in a more powerful way, as a servant leader in the MFBF organization and in my rural community. I am “showing up” and ACE multiplies the impact of that “showing up “.