Luke Renfree, 22

senior, history with teaching licensure and economics minor
Dillon, MT


September 14, 2015

By Cassie Winter, University Relations and Communications



What did you do for your internship this summer?

"I completed a six-credit internship at Nicholia Creek Ranch, located 30 miles southwest of Dell, MT seated in the Big Sheep Creek Basin. The family I worked for have been in this area since the late 1890s. My main job duties this summer included irrigating and maintaining the fences on the ranch and the forest grazing allotments. The ranch is home to 250 head of cattle and nearly 300 sheep. I was raised on a cattle ranch but I have not been around sheep very much so I had the opportunity to learn more about sheep. Along with the above duties, the end of the summer is always crazy with putting up hay."

How did you become connected to Nicholia Creek Ranch for your internship?

“The family who runs Nicholia Creek Ranch have been friends with my family for a number of years because my dad used to sell their calves in the fall, and now he buys them for his boss. For the last several years I have worked at Big Sheep and this year I wanted to learn more about the business side of farming and ranching. Through Advising and Career Services and Professor (Gary) Amundson I created learning goals that I worked towards all summer. Most of what I did revolved around watching the markets for cattle and hay. I also looked into the different aspects of lending and operating loans. Farm Credit Services publishes great guides in what to look for in a lender and the different ratios and analyses that an individual should be familiar with.”

four people on horseback looking out at the countrysideWhat did you gain from your hands-on experience?

“This internship was rewarding because I was able to take what I had learned in class and apply it in a real world scenario. The internship was helpful in that it forced me to recall and apply things that I had learned in class. Sometimes it feels as though the materials we learn in class will never be used in the real world, but it all helps. Growing up in an agricultural background, I have always wanted to have my own ranch. Taking a look at the business side of things shows me what all goes into operating a ranch, and what the numbers and paperwork look like.  It is, after all, a business and it is very interesting to me.” 

What is your ultimate goal? Is it teaching or ranching?

“I chose to go into education because I enjoy working with kids and I love coaching football and baseball. I think kids need to have people they can look up to. Regardless of the path I take, I would like to end up owning my own ranch someday.”

What sparked your interest in ranching?

“My interest in ranching started when I was a little kid. I spent my summers playing baseball and hanging out with Dad and Grandpa watching them complete their chores. It is always something I have wanted to do. I just have to figure out how to make it a reality. I think there is something to be said about owning the land beneath your feet. I am the kind of person who likes to see progress in their work—whether it is building a fence, or growing hay all summer. I take great joy in seeing growth in my task. I do not know if other people feel the same way, but it is really hard to explain. After you work your tail off for nine plus hours and you come home exhausted and sore, you can't help but to feel a sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, it really is honest work.”

How do you think growing up in the agriculture business has shaped your life?

“I think growing up around agriculture has definitely made me realize the importance of hard work. No matter where I go after college or what type of job I have I will always have that work ethic. Another thing about working in agriculture is that it teaches you to be patient. It also teaches you that some things are out of your control and being flexible is almost a necessity.”  

To learn more on how you can earn credit through internships visit Advising and Career Services homepage.