Since the summer began, there have been several updates to the ranch and some additions to the team. Even though they have been busy updating the website and caring for the livestock, we managed to have a photoshoot/interview, so you are able to “meat” them!
If you are a local to Henry County, you may have heard of Laura Endress already. She was homeschooled on a row crop farm not too far from Galva, Illinois. Laura recently completed her freshman year at Black Hawk College East Campus where she is in the agribusiness and ag production program. Both in and out of school, she stays involved by being a part of student ambassadors, spending time with her family and friends, and riding horses. After BHE, Laura plans on working in production agriculture with either livestock or crops or ideally a combination—well, I think it sounds like Laura needs to come back to Grateful Graze to work full time since she has been such a blessing to this team! Laura enjoys working at Grateful Graze because every day is different, and with it, each day has a unique set of challenges and new learning experiences. In the mornings, Laura works with the rest of the team on projects like maintenance, organizing, or setting fence for our daily moves. Then, she helps move all of the animals in the afternoon. Her favorite part of the day is moving the “flerd” or our cows and sheep because she loves to watch and interact with them. Laura believes that Grateful Graze is an incredible experience for her and she has loved learning about regenerative agriculture! When asked, Laura states, “At Grateful Graze, the animals are thriving in a very natural environment that benefits not only the animals but also the land and its people!”
Another intern Grateful Graze has been blessed to have with us is Cassidy Freeman from Seaton, Illinois. Growing up, she was always very involved in anything and everything that had to do with the stage, including musicals, pageants, choir, band, and of course dance. Cassidy has been dancing since she was three-years-old and continues to be a part of a dance team at college. Not only did she choose to attend Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois because of dance but also because of how at peace she felt during her first visit there. Presently, Cassidy is entering her junior year and is currently a member of the Inspired Strategies Agency (ISA) and Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). She has always had a passion for others and telling their stories and thoroughly enjoys engaging in conversation with people—anyone and everyone—which is why she is majoring in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. Having spent time near Chicago for school, she wanted to come back to her roots this summer! When the opportunity to intern at Grateful Graze emerged, she could not think of a better experience! Cassidy looks forward to helping Grateful Graze grow, including boosting their online presence, gaining media exposure, and displaying the story of Grateful Graze to the best of her abilities. Cassidy works in the Moline office with her mentor, Kim Sheese, who is the Training and Sales Support Director at Ag Solutions Network. As the Customer Communication Specialist, she has had the chance to improve Grateful Graze’s website's Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In order to do this, she has to do extensive research each day to learn what needs to be done better. Cassidy has also created and updated all the product descriptions and plans on incorporating other tools into our website to create an even better experience for our customers. She plans to continue interning for Grateful Graze while earning her Bachelor's degree and eventually wants to receive her Master’s degree in the future. Cassidy is also looking forward to marrying her fiancé in May of 2022!
Julia Stahl is another local to Henry County, who grew up in Galva, Illinois, where she also went to high school. There, she was very involved in activities such as National Honors Society, Student Council, sports, and FFA. Presently, she is attending BHE and will be a sophomore in the fall. She too is majoring in Agribusiness and Ag Production. After college, Julia is hoping to be a crop production manager or a sales representative. Interning at Grateful Graze this summer, has not only allowed her to fulfill one of her graduation requirements but has also helped her gain a wide variety of skills. Her responsibilities include moving the steers and our flerd to a new paddock of fresh grass every day as well as double checking that the pigs have enough access to Non-GMO and Homegrown feed, clean drinking water, and enough space to rut around. Julia also helps Laura care for the chickens, which involves collecting their eggs and moving their houses. She has learned a lot about the process and goals of regenerative agriculture. Even though it is a very new experience, she is ready to keep learning more!
As I am sure you have already gathered, there is never a dull moment here at the Grateful Graze ranch, and even though it can be hectic at times, I cannot think of a better group of individuals to handle it!