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5 questions with ... KaSondra Staiger, Rancher, Hebron, N.D.

Q: What is your role in agriculture today? My husband and I operate a 200-head commercial cow/calf operation and 200-plus head bred heifer development program. I care for our three young children (ages 5,4 and 1 1/2 ), with one on the way (due in...

KaSondra Staiger and her family from Hebron, N.D. (Submitted photo)
KaSondra Staiger and her family from Hebron, N.D. (Submitted photo)

Q: What is your role in agriculture today?

My husband and I operate a 200-head commercial cow/calf operation and 200-plus head bred heifer development program. I care for our three young children (ages 5,4 and 1 ½ ), with one on the way (due in July), while assisting in daily operations. I also manage our herds when my husband, Kris, is away working 24-hour shifts as a full-time firefighter.

Q: How has agriculture shaped your life?

Agriculture instilled in me a strong work ethic, discipline and an ability to be self-motivated which allows us to work towards the lifestyle we desire. It also allows us to begin teaching and instilling these same qualities in our three young daughters.

Q: How have off-farm jobs or careers helped you on your farm and ranch?

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I graduated from North Dakota State University with a double Bachelor of Science degree in animal science and equine studies in 2009. I worked previously as a natural resource specialist (2008-2011) for the Corps of Engineers and as Burleigh County agricultural extension agent (2011-2013). Being both a natural resource specialist and an agricultural extension agent allowed me the opportunity to see many different farming/ranching styles. It taught me to be open-minded when viewing different methods, and introduced my husband and me to a variety of amazing resources.

Working off-farm gave me a deeper and more sincere gratefulness to be able to operate our ranch and work from home while raising our three young daughters, with our fourth daughter due this summer.

My current off-farm career provides some of the largest benefits to our operation. Many would have difficulty relating ranching to operating a business as a full-time Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. However, this off-farm career allows me the opportunity to continue personal development as an individual, provide additional income with work flexibility, and grow bookkeeping, goal setting and time/money management skills.

Q: What is your advice for others working to balance work and family life?

With my husband and I having off-the-farm careers as well as operating a ranch full time, we think of it more as striving for harmony versus balance. I think it's extremely important to establish goals regarding your work and family life so you and your partner have the same mindset when it comes to prioritizing your time.

We found there are many times when our operation needs to be our No. 1 priority, and we may miss certain functions or events. However we strive for quality versus quantity with our family, meaning we may not have consistent time away from work, but when we do, we make it a priority to be completely focused on those we are spending time with.

All of our children from a young age (as early as newborn) have accompanied us through many of our daily tasks. They have become as invested in our operation as we are and find immense joy learning alongside us. Many of their favorite pastimes are related to our operation, and we have found it a great way to spend individual quality time with each of our daughters.

Q: What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you?

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Supporting and sharing our ideas with others is one way that we encourage other producers. I also think acknowledging that while it can be difficult to begin an operation from "scratch," it is possible despite all the difficulties you will encounter.

Surrounding ourselves with individuals/operations that have gone before us and achieved success in similar circumstances provides immense encouragement and inspiration. We also utilize many of the agricultural organizations for their immense resources and networking to help improve and better our operation.

KaSondra Staiger ranches full time and is Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. Her husband of 7 years, Kristopher, also works as a full time firefighter for the City of Bismarck Fire Department.

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