The first person I thought of when considering someone for our Farmer Friday feature was a woman that I have grown to admire and respect immensely. I cannot imagine leaving your home and deciding to live and work in a country so many miles away, as well as working in an industry that is perceived to be male-dominant.
Yet, Jude Capper has done just that.
Right now, Jude considers Bozeman, MT, her home, and the residents there should consider themselves fortunate to have her, in my opinion. When it comes to cattle, she has put in the hours, hard work and studies to become one of the world’s foremost experts. She is requested across the globe, by companies and producers alike, to help guide the livestock industry into the next phase of production.
I asked her to answer a few questions for me, and she graciously, and quickly, replied that she would. I was unfortunate enough to miss her trip to North Dakota, but I am anxiously awaiting the day that I get to meet her face-to-face.
I asked Jude to give a quick rundown of her background, and here is what she had to say, “I grew up in the UK, no agricultural background but we had a horse when I was young which led to an interest in animal agriculture. I did my undergrad (agriculture with animal science) and PhD (ruminant nutrition and behavior) in the UK and moved to the USA 6.5 years ago to do post-doctoral research at Cornell (2006). While there, we started working on the environmental impact of dairy production, which led to an NCBA-funded project assessing the environmental impact of beef production in 1977 compared to 2007 which I started when I moved to Washington State University (2009). Since then my research has focused on the sustainability of management practices and technologies used in beef and dairy production. I left Washington State to start my own livestock sustainability consultancy business last spring and have lived in Bozeman, MT, since last June.”
When I asked her where she calls home, she replied that Bozeman is definitely home. “Every time I fly home from a trip, I love to see the mountains (whether they are snow-capped or not!) and to feel part of the Montana ranching industry. I’ve met so many people in Montana, it really is an honor to call it home.”
Jude says that her favorite part of being in agriculture is having the opportunity to travel to such a wide variety of places, giving presentations to people from across the world. Places like Mexico, South Africa, Australia and China. Meeting people from all over the world who are involved with livestock production gives an amazing view of the diversity of the systems used around the world. “We still have the same concerns relating to sustainability in so many different regions.“
Her advice to young women interested in agriculture? “Simple – follow your passion. Life is too short to take a job that doesn’t inspire you or work with an industry that doesn’t excite you. Find out where you can make a difference and the field (pardon the pun) in which you want to work and then find that job that suits you. If it doesn’t exist, invent it.” You many not find another “livestock sustainability consultant,” but Jude wouldn’t trade her job for any other in the world.
“ When what you do every day isn’t just another job, but is your passion,…life is sweet!”
I couldn’t agree more, Jude…I couldn’t agree more.