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A Passion for Ranching

October 10, 2022
woman on a horse
Kaily Patterson-Coonis (Image courtesy of Kaily Patterson-Coonis)

Alumna Kaily Patterson-Coonis uses her agricultural communications degree to promote ranching and the 450,000-acre Padlock Ranch.

 

By Micaela Myers 

When 2019 University of Wyoming agricultural business graduate Kaily Patterson-Coonis was 8 years old, her family moved to the Padlock Ranch — headquartered just outside of Ranchester with 450,000 acres stretching across Wyoming and Montana. Her dad worked at the ranch and still does — now as CEO. 

“It was really cool to be involved in agriculture from a young age,” Patterson-Coonis says. “I have memories of helping my dad with brandings and moving cattle. In addition to the romantic side of it, I saw the long hours, the hard work and the late nights, like moving cattle on Christmas Eve because the water in that pasture stopped working. I started to develop a passion for agriculture and taking care of animals. I had bottle calves as a kid and would stay up late if they were struggling or get them inside when it rained — doing everything to save their lives.”

The ranch was founded in 1943 by Homer and Mildred Scott. Today, the cow-calf operation produces 10,000 yearlings annually as well as high-quality forage feed. Growing up on the ranch, Patterson-Coonis knew she wanted to make agriculture a career. Some of the highlights of her time at UW included meeting a diverse group of people, learning to understanding different perspectives and being an active member of the Wyoming Collegiate Cattle Association.

“We went on some awesome field trips, and I learned a lot through that group,” Patterson-Coonis says. “Learning how to work with a diverse group of people is very important. College also teaches you to want to learn and search out answers. I’m constantly learning, and my job is constantly changing.”

She completed an internship at Padlock Ranch that led to full-time work after graduation. Patterson-Coonis runs the ranch’s social media, does data collection and manages the farm-to-table beef program.

“I love the variety,” she says. “I can work on so many different things in my job. One day I’m collecting data and checking cows, and the next day I’m at the farmers market selling our beef to people.”

Beyond the ranch itself, she wants to help change misconceptions people may have about ranchers.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand how passionate ranchers are about taking care of our land, environment and animals,” Patterson-Coonis says. “Cowboys will be out moving cows and doctoring animals in all kinds of crazy weather. It’s really important for us to take care of our pastures, maintain good biodiversity of plant life and take care of our wildlife.”

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