Meet Our 2021 Apprentices – Dillon, Jessica, and Alex

In an effort to advance the careers of aspiring regenerative agriculture professionals and facilitate generational succession of the ranching trade, TomKat Ranch offers 1- to 2-year apprenticeships to individuals looking to develop their skills and experience and cultivate their professional networks. Apprentices learn to handle livestock in a low-stress manner, operate the tools of the trade, including heavy equipment, make land and livestock decisions guided by a holistic framework, and  meet and engage with other professionals in the fields of ranching management, grass-fed beef production, and science.

The outdoors is our classroom. The curriculum: meeting the daily demands of a working regenerative ranch and grass-fed beef business in ways that help restore healthy ecosystem function, assist us in our efforts to trial new approaches to ranching in partnership with nature,  and provide healthy food for our community.  All activities take place under the supervision and guidance of our ranch manager, Mark Biaggi, and Regenerative Ranch Coordinator, Hayley Strohm.

Dillon Gruber – Dillon is from Gardiner, Montana. He has spent his life working, adventuring, and playing outdoors. Dillon’s commitment to wildlife and wildland conservation gave rise to an interest in regenerative agriculture. His interest in regenerative agriculture transformed into a passion for food as he realized the impact our food production has on the natural world. 

“When I heard what TomKat Ranch was doing with cattle and soil, I knew the ranch was the exact sort of laboratory and classroom I was looking for to further my education.”

Jessica Teresi – Jessica was born in Lodi, California. She grew up raising livestock while participating in 4-H and Future Farmers of America programs. Her interest in regenerative agriculture started when she learned that livestock can be used to improve soil health. Researching the topic further, Jessica found many ranches and farms promoting regenerative systems, but kept coming across the TomKat Ranch website and eventually the apprenticeship application.

“I hope to gain skills and experience to implement holistic and regenerative practices in my own businesses.”

Alex Michel – Originally from Los Angeles, California, Alex studied landscape architecture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and learned to view terrain through the lens of analytical design. Seeking better understanding of how living landscapes function outside of the classroom, she joined Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch education program and began to view the world through the lens of other systems such as agriculture, forestry, watershed systems, and more. While at Swanton Ranch, Alex visited TomKat Ranch and was drawn to the “educational curiosity and work in regenerative agriculture” she witnessed.

“I hope to keep learning and working to improve landscapes while connecting the dots between multidisciplinary approaches to land stewardship.”