Women Rocking The Boat - Marsha Daughenbaugh - Making Ag Work
By Christina Freeman
Story by Jennie Lay/Photo by Corey Kopischke
When Marsha Daughenbaugh was a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, she signed up for auto mechanics. Being a third-generation rancher, the enterprising cowgirl from the Rocking C Bar Ranch was blind to gender limitations. But to Daughenbaugh’s surprise, she was branded a rabble-rouser and denied admittance to the class.
Today Daughenbaugh and her husband, Doc, run the family cattle ranch. She grew up in 4-H, where animals and leadership programs were her forte, but sewing was not. After high school, she spent a year as a state 4-H officer, then 19 years as Routt County’s club leader. Twenty-five years at the USDA’s Farm Service Agency sent her mingling with Congress to influence federal farm policies.
Since Daughenbaugh became executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance in 2003, those early 4-H experiences and immersion in government policy, process and compromise, have bolstered local ag.
“I grew up knowing that to make a community work, you have to give back. You have to provide leadership if you want it to be the way you want it to be,” Daughenbaugh says. “I’m passionate about agriculture and I don’t want to see us lose any producers, locally or in the world.” She is the voice at public meetings consistently asking, “How does this affect agriculture?”
Ag is different now because everyone also has to work “off the place,” she says, leaving scarce time with neighbors. The Ag Alliance provides opportunities to socialize and learn while focusing on mutual concerns like land stewardship, drought management, energy extraction and water.
“I don’t have a lot of patience for people that are negative. Let’s make something good happen,” Daughenbaugh says. Under her guidance, the Ag Alliance offers input ranging from water plans and local food to Vision 2030. She fosters partnerships bridging from ranch tours to oil and gas symposiums.
“I don’t think there’s another organization like this in the country,” she says, noting incessant calls from hopeful imitators. “Town is good to us. I just hope I gave something back.”