Company: Callison Ranch Beef
Industry: Agriculture and Food
Function: Direct-to-customer sales
Education: BA History, minor in English from University of Texas Arlington
What is your daily schedule like?
I’m up by 6:30 a.m. every morning because life on the ranch starts that early. The ranch hands come in at 7:00 a.m., and we start feeding and haying the animals. After that, I will sit down and organize my day, which could be bookkeeping or other administrative things, but around 10:00 a.m., I try to start working on a project whether that means repairs around the ranch, social media planning, or helping to prepare orders for shipment. In the afternoon, I will often run errands or catch up on housework, and then at 4:00 p.m., my husband is home, and we get in the feed truck and make sure all the animals are safe and fed. This lasts until dark and provides my husband and me time to catch up with each other.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Being outside with the animals is absolutely the best.
What steps did you take to get into this career?
Well, I created my job. We owned the ranch already, but I saw a need in my area, which was that people interested in knowing where their food comes from have a problem finding homegrown beef that they can buy directly from a ranch. I created a solution, which is the direct-to-customer sales business.
What is your best piece of advice for young women interested in this field?
An essential piece of advice is to make sure you understand that it is more of a lifestyle than other jobs. It is hard work but so satisfying.
What inspired you to pursue this career?
I wanted to work for myself, whether selling beef or anything else. So that has really driven me.
Even though Nikki grew up on a ranch, she had not always planned on making a career of ranching. She went to college thinking that a career in teaching was in her future. To earn money for tuition, she answered an ad and found herself working in sales for a computer company. That experience expanded her worldview and gave her a great foundation for so many aspects of her working life. Ultimately, she left the job at the computer company to pursue teaching and, later, opening her own photography studio.
Eventually, Nikki found herself back in the ranch life with her husband. It was then that she identified a need for quality beef in her community and decided to set up a business that would fulfill that demand, and as a result, customers’ orders can now be delivered straight from Callison Ranch. She also runs social media for the ranch, which generates a lot more engagement than she had anticipated. Nikki has grown a following for the company, showing the public where their food comes from and how it is cared for and demystifying the ranching business. Each step in her professional life has helped her to make Callison Ranch Beef a success–she uses her skills in sales, education, and photography every day.
Serving the Community
One aspect of this career that Nikki has found discouraging is the public’s distrust of the food supply. As a rancher, she sees those in her profession producing a product for not only the general consumer but also to feed their own families. As part of Callison Ranch Beef, Nikki enjoys helping people understand what ranchers do and educating the community about the day-to-day work that goes on at a ranch. And customers are genuinely interested! It surprises Nikki how often customers want to come to the ranch to pick up their orders so that they can have a chance to see the ranch firsthand and learn more about where their food came from.
While the purpose of Callison Ranch Beef is to provide high-quality beef to consumers, Nikki loves that she gets a chance to educate the public about ranching and aspects of nutrition and to encourage an interest in where their food is coming from.
“There are so many aspects of agriculture that it is difficult to pin down one piece of advice to cover them all. If you are interested in pursuing a career in agriculture, visit a college that has a strong agriculture program. You should make a point to see what options exist because there are nutritionists, economists, researchers, veterinarians, and so many other jobs. For example, if you are interested in both finance and agriculture, you can merge those interests and find a career in the commodities market. You do not have to know for sure what your path will be before you dive in.” Nikki has tried to live by tennis pro Arthur Ashe’s famous words, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can,” which is how she has found herself able to be her own boss in a business she enjoys.