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Lauren Chase profiles Montana ranchers

Published: 12/8/2012
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

Proud grandparents can be better at promotion than the best public relations experts.

That's how I learned about Lauren Chase, multimedia outreach specialist for the Montana Stockgrowers Association. Her grandpa, Dave Dohnalek, farmed for decades on his Iowa land. Now retired, he and his wife stop into the Kava House regularly. That's where I served them lunch and learned about Lauren.
The recent University of Iowa graduate has worked to bring the association into the social media world. She maintains many platforms (facebook, YouTube, etc.) and put together a large coffee table book, celebrating the ranch life.

Read more about Montana Stockgrowers.

Here's a short Q & A between NickerNews and Chase, working from her Helena, Montana office.

MBG: Tell us about your average work day.

LC:  It depends if I'm on a ranch or in the office.
If I'm in the office, I usually will spend the mornings posting content to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, and Instagram.
After I scan through the news feeds and promote that day's content, I usually will spend a great deal of time planning future ranch visits, editing photos & video and working on my second book to come out next featuring the roles of women in Montana ranching.
Throughout the day, I usually help our Collegiate Stockgrower at Montana State University with their activities and media content.
I also volunteer as the editor of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's Young Producers' Council's blog: The Cattle Call.

If I'm out of the office, I'm usually off to visit a ranch. It could be anywhere from an hour drive to nine hours. Montana is pretty huge!
Depending on what's going on at the ranch, I might be taking photos of brandings, trailing cattle, chute work, calving, shipping, haying, etc. Once I see what kind of photos I get, I will often sit the family down and do an on-camera interview (asking questions about the history of the ranch, what they like best, what it's like working with family, and explanations of the activities they do).

Amongst all of this, I travel and present at conferences and meetings throughout the state to encourage ranchers to "tell their story" via social media. This is somewhat challenging, but I've seen the enthusiasm grow since I began a few years ago. I also go to conventions across the country to spread the word about Montana ranching and help others learn about beef production.

MBG: Tell us more about your photography and editing process and how much time is involved.

LC: On a ranch visit, I end up taking around 300-500 photos. These take around two hours to edit for Facebook. Then probably another three hours to fit into the pages of the book and select the best ones.
Video is a different story. A 10-minute interview typically takes me about six to eight hours to edit. And then another two hours to upload and promote.

MBG: How involved was the book publishing process for the "Big Sky Boots" (the first of a five-part series on Montana ranches and the working cowboy life, just released this fall?

LC: I began collecting content February, 2011 and stopped about a year later to start the design process for the book. It went off to the publishers June 1, 2012.

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12/9/2012 Dave Chase
Lauren has done an outstanding job documenting contemporary Montana ranching. Her photos help tell the story of dedication, stewardship and professionalism while maintaining the elements of real ranch life. We can't wait for more books in the series.

"The ears never lie" - Don Burt