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For this week’s episode, Ed headed out to the Chico Basin Ranch to sit down with ranch apprentice Brandon Sickel and Duke IV for a conversation about Ranchlands’ intern and apprenticeship program.  

Brandon has been working with us for nearly five years– he started out as a summer intern at the Zapata Ranch and then joined the team in a full-time capacity as part of our Apprenticeship Program at the Chico. When he joined the team, Brandon had almost no experience with cows, horses, or the ranching business. But he did bring a great attitude, a strong worth ethic, and an innate curiosity– characteristics that have made him an invaluable member of our team.

In this episode, Brandon and Duke provide a high-level overview of the apprenticeship program, which will serve as an excellent resource for anyone who may be interested in joining our team. Brandon discusses what initially attracted him to a job at Ranchlands, his learning curve as an apprentice, and some specific details of his evolving day-to-day responsibilities at the ranch. Duke talks about the characteristics that make for successful apprentices, what qualities he seeks out in candidates, how he works with apprentices to execute complex grazing plans, and much more.

Our Guest

Brandon Sickel began working with Ranchlands in the summer of 2017 as a maintenance intern at the Zapata Ranch, while an undergraduate student at Haverford College studying cultural anthropology. He wrote his senior thesis, "Hope on the Range: How Cowboys, Conservation, and Culture Are Saving The New West," an ethnography of ranching, based on his experience at the Zapata. After graduating from college, Brandon returned to Ranchlands as an intern on our Chico Basin Ranch, where he lives and works as a ranch apprentice today.

Follow Brandon on Instagram.

The Politics of Scale: A History of Rangeland Science

By Nathan F. Sayre

Underland: A Deep Time Journey

By Robert Macfarlane

By Brandon Sickel

Explore of a few of our favorite of Brandon's contributions to the Ranchlands Review.

Beefmasters: A Philosophy Embodied

By Brandon Sickel

A Beefmaster cow is more that an animal; she is a management philosophy embodied – a flesh-and-blood way of living with the land that represents how humans and their animals...

Read more

Pulling the Strings

By Brandon Sickel

A place-based approach to handling cattle.

Read more

Danger! Bison (Do Not Approach)

By Brandon Sickel

What does it take to conserve a species whose original range once stretched uninterrupted across an entire continent?

Read more

More Podcast Episodes

#40: Ranchlands then and now with Duke Phillips III

Duke Phillips III is the CEO and founder of Ranchlands. Ranchlands owns and manages large scale, conservation oriented ranching operations in the American west, and provides management and strategic advisory services...


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