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Montana Ag Network: Robinson makes stockgrowers history

Posted at 8:20 AM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 10:20:19-05

Last week, Fourth generation Phillips County rancher Lesley Robinson made history becoming the first women to be elected as the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s Second Vice President.

Robinson and her husband Jim ranch near Zortman.

In 1996, Robinson became just the second woman elected to serve the Montana Stockgrowers Association board of directors.

“Back in 1996 when I was elected, I was only 30 years old,” Robinson said. “It was a big step for me to take but it was a very good experience being on the Montana Stockgrowers board. I feel like it was the first step that has led me to where I am today.”

That path led Robinson to become a Phillips County Commissioner for 12 years. She also served on the Executive Committee for the National Association of Counties.

In 2016, she ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor on Greg Gianforte's first gubernatorial campaign. Since then, she has served as the state director for Montana's First Congressional District.

Last week, she made history by becoming the first woman to be elected to the Montana Stockgrowers executive board as the association's second vice president.

“I've done so many things in the last 20 to 25 years that I really think that I can bring a lot of skills and leadership,” Robinson explained. “Everything that I have learned, from all the different avenues that I've gone in the last 20 years helps me. I've worked with a lot of people from across the board and I think that I can just bring a lot of those skills to the board.”

As Robinson concludes her role as the state director for Montana's First Congressional District, she looks forward to continuing to serve Montana ranchers. While many believe she is breaking the glass ceiling with her leadership role, she does not view it that way.

“It's just part of getting the job done,” said Robinson. “Everything that I do, I don't go into it trying to be the first woman to do it. But a lot of times I have been the only woman on a board. I have had no problem with it. I just like to get things done and I just happened to be a woman.”

Robinson encourages all young producers to be involved in agriculture advocacy.

“Don't be afraid to if you're a woman, or if you're anybody, a young person on the ranch. If you don't really know what your role is on the ranch. Maybe it’s to join an organization and be a leader.

In four years, Robinson is on track to become the first woman to serve as the Montana Stockgrowers president.