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woman tagging a calf
Zoe Heath places an ear tag in a calf’s ear with the supervision of OSU Extension specialist Dana Zook. Heath and her husband run a cow-calf operation in Roosevelt, Oklahoma. (Photo by Todd Johnson, OSU Agricultural Communications Services)

Women-only cattle camp empowers female ranchers

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Media Contact: Gail Ellis | Editorial Communications Coordinator | 405-744-9152 |

Oklahoma State University Extension hosted its first-ever OSU Cattlewomen’s Boot Camp in June. The three-day event, designed for women, provided hands-on demonstrations for managing a cattle operation.

“It’s important that we recognize the role women have on the ranch,” said Donna Patterson, OSU Extension director and ag educator for Rogers County. “A lot of the time, women will say their husbands do a lot of the work, but they are vital to the operation. We need to empower women in the ranching business.”

Fifty women of all ages from across the state attended the boot camp in Chickasha to learn what is required of ranchers throughout the year to achieve a profitable and successful cattle operation. Women walked through hands-on activities, such as vaccinations, ear tagging and parasite control as well as body condition scoring, vaccine handling and implanting. Other sessions included information and tutorials on reproduction, forage and forage management, record keeping and estate planning.

“There are more women working in different sectors of agriculture these days, and this camp gives them an extra chance to work on some of their skills,” said Dana Zook, northwest area livestock specialist for OSU Extension. “Women sometimes work alone in their particular part of the industry, and it’s good to know other people are out there doing the same thing.”

Chelsey Hollie of Amber, Oklahoma, said she appreciated how the camp gave her and her peers an opportunity to build upon the cattle skills and knowledge many of them acquired at an early age.

“Our farm has been mostly run be men since I was a kid. My grandpa, dad and husband did most of the work, and I wanted to do more,” Hollie said. “I like the confidence the camp gives you to ask questions and feel like you’re in a like-minded group.”

A registered veterinary technician, Hollie is interested in quality assurance and navigating the financial aspects of an operation. The information she received at OSU’s camp is current, comprehensive and related directly to current market trends that will help her family meet its business goals.

“My husband and I run a small farm and are partners in all things,” she said. “The more I can help him, the more we work together as a team.”

In addition to basic knowledge needed to effectively run a cow-calf operation, each camp participant received a copy of the OSU Beef Cattle Manual to reference at home on the ranch.

“I feel like I’m a pretty strong part of our cattle operation, but this camp makes it a lot easier to ask questions and not feel like you’re being overstepped,” said Zoe Heath of Roosevelt, Oklahoma.

Another advantage of the camp designed strictly for women is the sense of comradery it creates among participants as women network and create new friendships within Oklahoma’s beef industry.

“It’s a safe environment where everybody is learning and can take home a new practice that makes their life easier and more efficient,” Patterson said.

The event was a collaborative effort among OSU Extension specialists statewide who have hosted a cow-calf boot camp for several years. Patterson said organizers plan to continue offering a separate event for cattlewomen

Watch the cattlewomen in action on SUNUP, a production agriculture television show from OSU Agriculture.

To learn more about future cattlewomen boot camps at OSU, contact J.J. Jones, OSU Extension southeast area district agricultural economics specialist, at 580-332-7011 or

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