Rasmussen Gains Hands-On Experience Through Internship Program

MSU-Bozeman student Alex Rasmussen has had a busy summer completing his internship through the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), the Montana Rangeland Resources Committee and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). According to the DNRC, the internship is designed to offer beginning agriculturalists, natural resource and range specialists, biologists, soils majors or any student looking into natural resources the real-world and hands-on experience implementing the educational tools already gained to a ranching operation. Interns spend two weeks at each of six host/mentor’s ranch operations. Rasmussen started the summer at a ranch in Boulder, then made it to Big Timber in time to help with lambing as well as cattle. Fencing was on the agenda on a ranch at Ekalaka where he helped rip out two miles of barbed wire fencing and put in four miles of electric fence. The next stop was a ranch in Ryegate.

Since July 17, Rasmussen has been a welcome asset at the busy Dick and Connie Iversen ranch south of Culbertson. He has gained experience in rotational grazing as he moved cattle, has stacked bales, done some fencing, put out salt and minerals, and even helped with two major events the Iversens hosted during the week.

Rasmussen is from the Portland, OR, area and has always loved the outdoors. Although he had no ag experience, and without knowing exactly what his career path may be, he chose to attend MSU Bozeman, where he felt the programs offered would provide a good way to not sit in an office. He will graduate next year with a degree in natural resource and rangeland ecology, giving him multiple state and federal employment options, as well as potential jobs in the private sector.

Rasmussen is truly enjoying his internship saying his favorite part has been the constant learning opportunities. “I don’t do well in a classroom but I love to learn,” he explained. “Every place I’ve been has provided chances for new experiences and learning the hands-on way.” With only limited experience on a tractor, learning to run equipment has been fun. Some of the work has been from horseback, which he was already proficient at, but most has been with 4 wheelers and side by sides. He has gained experience with skid steers and other ranch equipment as he visited each place. “I love most, but not all, things mechanical,” he said.

Rasmussen is looking forward to getting back to school and putting what he has learned to use. “This will bring a lot more meaning to what I’m learning in the classroom,” he stated.

Iversens have had a very gratifying experience hosting the students, stating “It has been a fun experience to be part of the Working Lands Internship program. We have had the opportunity to mentor agricultural students and give them a hands-on view of a working ranching operation. At first the idea of having a person you have never met move in and be part of the family for several weeks is kind of daunting but the young college students we have had have been nothing but delightful. Most have had very little experience on a ranch and our job is to give them the opportunity to see the inner workings of agriculture they don’t get sitting in a classroom. Our hope is this will help them be more informed about agriculture and make their job easier if they work in the ag field. Rasmussen is the 6th student we have hosted over a period of five years, the first year we hosted two students in the same summer. All of the students we have had the pleasure of hosting have become lifelong friends and some have even returned to visit and help with chores when we needed some extra help. We have been asked to be references to jobs they applied to as well as giving supporting information for their projects. It has been a very satisfying experience that we hope to repeat in the future.”


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