For the love of ranching: online students put their Ag degrees to work

Sara Burris on her horse.
Sara Burris

The ranching life requires a lot of time out in the field — which can make it difficult to get to campus to take classes. For many students around the country, local campuses don’t always offer the agriculture programs that fit their needs or interests. It’s for those reasons that recent Colorado State University graduates Sara Burris and Emily Beaty chose to study in CSU’s online agricultural business bachelor’s program.

Building a new dream

Emily Beaty started riding horses when she was 6 years old. Though she lived in the city — Tampa, Florida — she would visit her great uncle’s horse farm every spring. “Most of my family didn’t have a large agriculture background…but the love of that started within me somewhere. I always knew I wanted to be involved with horses and cattle to some degree,” she said.

“I fell in love with ranching just for the sheer beauty of it. There’s life and there’s death, but everything in between is just so rewarding. Training a young horse a few days in or weeks in, seeing their progression, seeing an animal who doesn’t speak your language and being able to communicate with them has always been pretty magical to me,” she said. “With cows, I love just watching them, watching them grow, and knowing that you are investing your time and your effort into a greater good by providing food for somebody.”

Jump ahead to 2010 when she met her now-husband, Derek, who was also interested in horses and cattle, and Beaty’s dream of owning her own ranch began taking shape. It was soon after the two were married that she enrolled in CSU’s online agricultural business program.

Watch the video below to hear more about how Beaty is using her education to realize her vision of owning a horse training and cattle ranching operation in Lithia, Florida.


Continuing a family legacy

Sara Burris lives in New River, Arizona, near her family’s ranch where she grew up, and continues working today. “Growing up on the ranch was great because I developed a work ethic, and you have to have work ethic,” she said. “It’s sunrise to sundown sometimes, which can mean long days, especially in Arizona summers. But, you come out of it with a respect for Mother Nature, a respect for the land that we have, and a respect for where our food comes from.”

When Burris graduated high school, she didn’t know what she wanted to study in college, but she knew she was interested in agriculture. “I went to a local college at first, but chose not to continue there because they didn’t have a degree program that related to agriculture,” she said. When she found CSU’s online program, she knew it was what she needed. “It was something that I could do at home, and I could still be involved in the family ranch. I could be here, be active, still get the hands-on experience here, and use what I was learning in school, but on my own family ranch.”

Watch the video below to see a glimpse of Burris’s family ranch in Arizona, and hear more of her story.



Learn more about the online agricultural business program.