20 May Seth Pratt
Senior Consultant by Career – Full Time Cattle Rancher
It may come as a surprise that as a Senior Business Analyst for The Context Network, Seth Pratt isn’t found in an office building crunching numbers day in and day out; he will be found working in his home office in the beautiful ranchlands of southeastern Idaho. When he’s not working on advanced agriculture analysis, Seth is hard at work as a fifth-generation cattle rancher. His knowledge and skills of sustainability and economics, while also being able to stay connected to his work virtually, has helped build him into an educated, informed, and socio-economically aware rancher and consultant.
Cattle Ranching to Consultant
Cattle Ranching Background
Joe Pratt, Seth’s great great grandfather, moved to southeastern Idaho in 1904 with a few brothers and a sister. There they settled, raising sheep and a few dairy cows. This progressed through Seth’s great grandfather and grandfather immensely to the operation they have now. After 12 years as an agriculture teacher and four years as an agriculture business management professor at a University, Seth’s father now works on the family ranch as well.
Seth’s work is a little backwards from his father, who spent his time with off farm work before moving to on farm work. Seth does off farm work on the farm!
Working in Consultant
Working on the fundraising team for the dean of his college, Seth found himself presented with an opportunity to send his resume to a connection of the dean’s who was working for Context at that time. From there, he was selected and flown to St. Louis, Missouri, where he got the opportunity to compete through a rigorous interview process.
During this process, Seth was asked to use his analytical skills, presentation and public speaking skills, and his problem solving skills to receive the job position. Some of the examples of this interview were:
- Creating a presentation from a set of data received thirty minutes prior to entering the room.
- Converting an “ugly” drawing to a beautiful powerpoint model.
- Presenting how you would measure the number of lightbulbs on in the city of Detroit at any point in time.
Cattle Ranching & Consulting Crossover
- Real life business experience. Seth has a strong understanding of the value of a product and the reactions of commodity producers to a specific tactic. It allows him experience and a connection with production agriculture and an understanding of the cost based mentality in producing commodities which is unique to other business sectors.
- Lens into how a business owner should think. Being a part of the family ranching operation since birth, it helps Seth think more of the investment and risk for a business owner.
Tips for Working Virtually or Remotely
“I think that [working virtually or remotely] is going to become more and more common, especially in agriculture,” Seth explains about his career. “We have underutilized talent across the country in rural communities that, with better internet, will allow us to tap into.”
- You may have a harder time transitioning to working from a home office if home is an emotional place for you, not a working place. Most youth raised on a farm or ranch are used to the work mentality when at home as they have operational and physical tasks everyday.
- Over communication with colleagues is key! You don’t have the natural work gathering places such as the water cooler or coffee pot.
- Schedule in conversations informally to stay in touch with colleagues.
- Be flexible in working with colleagues.
Seth does concede that we as a population need to do a better job of creating assets, recommendations, and training to create better remote employees.
Common Issues in Agriculture
How we talk about environmental impact and agriculture:
As an agricultural community, we have a tendency to say that we “use” resources, crops, or livestock but it’s not a one-way system where you enter an economic resource and that’s it. Water on a crop or given to an animal does not just stay there, it cycles through. We need to find a way as agriculturalists to talk about environmental science and environmental-social concerns in a way that is both scientifically valid and also emotionally appealing.
Rural Connectivity & Rural Development
We need to figure out a way to have better access and connectivity in rural area communities. Being able to tap into the many talented and smart individuals in rural communities, accessing their knowledge and gaining their strategy and input while also allowing them live their livelihood is beneficial to moving forward.
Rural Populations & Automation
Whether the tractor pushed out the farmer or the tractor allowed the would-be farmer to chase other passions such as a lawyer, doctor or artist, is the big question. Whatever the answer may be, there is more rural automation and technology down the pipeline in the next 10 to 20 years; we need to be prepared to handle this.
Environmentalism & Agriculture
Creation of Seth’s Outlook on Environmentalism & Agriculture
Growing up in a place filled with public lands, Seth understood the value of multiple groups and opinions on land use. This has led him to have open conversation rather than arguments about land use and agriculture practices. Conversations on these environmental concerns are healthy for future use and strategy.
Creating Healthy Conversation
“Those of us in agriculture, especially in the last 80 years, have been efficiency-focused: how do we produce more with less. We are price-takers.” Seth explains how the typical answer is that we use less resources to create more. Mathematically agriculture is producing more with less of an economic footprint but this answer is not emotionally compelling to someone who is not a cost-based, efficiency-based business.
Typically, Seth explains, “we feel personally challenged when asked these questions and the common response is ‘as a farmer or rancher, my livelihood is based upon the long-term health of my environmental assets so, therefore, I must be doing the right thing – how dare you question?’”
Instead, understand the ecosystem level concern that they have and take that concern, validate that it is a concern and then tie it back to your management decisions on your farm or with your livestock. It doesn’t have to be an argument, it can be a conversation.
Career Advice From Current Seth to Younger Seth
- Prior to college: “Enjoy the moment a bit more – you don’t have to be an aggressive planner.”
- In College: “AGR Fraternity is going to be one of the best experiences in terms of growing you and keeping you healthy through college and you are going to love it.”
How to Follow Seth:
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