Montana Rancher Feature – Jed Evjene of Two Dot

This week’s Montana Rancher Feature highlights Jed Evjene from Two Dot. Jed and his wife, Annie, manage the American Fork Ranch, which was recognized this year for their work in environmental stewardship, conservation and sustainability. The Evjenes raise Angus/Hereford cross cattle on their ranch. Learn more about the Environmental Stewardship Award Program. Connect with the American Fork Ranch on Facebook.

Be sure to leave Jed any questions in the comments section below and check out other posts in our Montana Rancher Feature series. Know a member of the Montana ranching community who should be featured in a future post? Use this online form to send us the information!

American Fork Ranch Environmental Stewardship Jed EvjeneHow is your family involved in the Montana ranching community? My wife is also ranching. My youngest son operates a ranch in South Dakota. My middle son works as a ranch hand during the summer on a ranch east of Big Timber.

I conserve water or work to ensure good water quality on my ranch by… Work very hard to ensure good water quality on the ranch by placing stock water tanks in upland places, lessening the impact within riparian areas with a controlled grazing plan in conjunction with placement of stock tanks.

My favorite cut of beef is… Rib eye steak

My role model (or superhero) is… Is my wife. She is the hardest working and the most honest person I know.

When I’m not ranching, I like to… Announce rodeos and tour other ranching operations

My favorite thing about being a part of the Montana ranching community is… Knowing we are helping feed the world and protecting the land while doing it.

I’m working to protect the environment on my ranch by… Management of livestock, land, water and people.

I’m working to prevent erosion on my ranch by… Making sure the native range grasses are healthy and better tillage practice.

I think we need more young people involved in ranching because… To continue to supply the world with the safest food products, continue to protect the land, water and environment.

I’m working to create healthy soil on my ranch by… Keeping good cover and lessening soil erosion as much as possible.

One way I utilize technology on the ranch is by… Record keeping with computers.

Proper handling and welfare of livestock is important to me because… Is the upmost importance! They are the means of harvesting our number one crop and that is our grass, which in return they provide us with a protein supply that feeds the world.

Click the image above to see more Montana Rancher Features!

Click the image above to see more Montana Rancher Features!

I work to provide for wildlife habitat on my ranch by… Increasing wildlife habitat and providing clean water, feed and shelter.

I always knew I would be in the ranching business. I chose the agricultural life because… I knew from a very young age that this is what I was meant to do.

I work to ensure we raise a safe and affordable beef product by… Practicing the best possible methods of animal husbandry we can with our livestock. Also by getting out there and telling our story.

What would you like beef customers to know about your role in the ranching community? That we care for our land, water, livestock and people more than any other business in the world.

Dietetic interns participate in a beef from pasture to plate tour

2015 MDI Tour press release picBILLINGS – Earlier this week the Montana Beef Council hosted another successful pasture to plate tour for nearly twenty Montana Dietetic Internship (MDI) students pursuing a career as a Registered Dietitian. The tour was conducted in Two Dot, Montana with local ranchers Jed and Annie Evjene where the attendees were able to experience first-hand where and how beef is raised on the American Fork Ranch.

This year’s tour began at the historic ranch headquarters where the Evjene’s explained the family ranching operation and the history of the area to the interns to help them understand the importance of agriculture and specifically beef production.

“It is important for me to help you understand where food comes from,” Jed Evjene told the interns. “There is a lot of misinformation out there about ranching practices and we are here with our gate open for you to see real ranching practices first-hand.”

Throughout the tour the interns not only had the opportunity to see cattle and horses, but also calving facilities, rangeland and more. Jed shared his passion for maintaining the land and water as they are vital to sustainability. While touring around the ranch the interns learned about the entire beef cycle and that cattle spend the majority of their lives on pasture. Evjene’s also shared their experience of being chosen as Regional Environmental Stewardship Award recipients and the responsibility they feel to continue teaching others about ranching and their commitment to care for the cattle and natural resources.

Next, over a healthy beef lunch, the interns learned about beef nutrition from Registered Dietitian Lisa Murray, including lean cuts of beef, optimal protein levels in the diet, beef’s fatty acid profile, and new research showing beef’s positive role in heart healthy diet.

“Beef has 10 essential nutrients and just 150 calories per three-ounce serving and there are more lean beef choices today than ever before so you can feel confident in helping your patients keep beef in their diet,” said Murray.

Leaving the pasture, the tour headed to The Grand Hotel in Big Timber where Chef Amy Smith demonstrated multiple ways to cut beef as well as providing samples of recipes from The Healthy Beef Cookbook.

“Steak is cool,” exclaimed one intern after the presentation.

To complete the day, the interns then toured Pioneer Meats of Big Timber to get a back-of-the-house look at a custom butcher shop with owner Brian Engle. Brian’s passion for quality was evident as he detailed every aspect of their award-winning family-run processing facility.

The theme of the internship is a systems approach to sustainability and sustainable foods and Montana Beef Council has worked with Montana State University, Bozeman to provide this tour as a tangible learning experience during their internship. Following this tour, the interns will disperse across the state to continue their dietetic internship with rotations in clinical dietetics, community nutrition, and foodservice management.  Interns successfully completing MDI will obtain a certificate that qualifies graduates to take the dietetic registration exam.

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The Montana Beef Council is organized to protect and increase demand for beef and beef products through state, national and international consumer marketing programs including promotion, education and research, thereby enhancing profit opportunities for Montana beef producers. For more information, contact Lisa Murray, RD at (406) 656-3336 or

American Fork Ranch Wins Regional Award for Environmental Stewardship

American Fork Ranch Environmental StewardshipAmerican Fork Ranch of Two Dot, Mont., was honored with one of seven regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) awards. The honorees, announced during last week’s 2015 Cattle Industry Summer Conference, were recognized for their outstanding stewardship practices. This year’s regional winners will compete for the national award, which will be announced during the 25th anniversary celebration in January 2016.

ESAP is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, and is presented to farmers and ranchers who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the farm and ranch land in their care.

“The American Fork Ranch is a part of Montana history, established in 1882 and dating back to days of the Montana Territory. The Stevens family has owned the ranch since 1945 and currently has the fifth generation actively involved in ranch operations and the community,” said Jay Bodner, Montana Stockgrowers Association director of natural resources. “Under the management of Jed and Annie Evjene, the American Fork Ranch has experienced a transformation in sustainability, stewardship and conservation through a number of public and private partnerships. Through a dedication to long-term stewardship, the American Fork Ranch continuously works to improve their cattle operation to benefit their environment, wildlife, resources, community and employees.”

At American Fork Ranch, they’ve found that what’s good for cattle production is also good for the wildlife – and by improving their pastures through cross fencing and adding an extensive system of waterlines, the work has also improved habitat for the native animals.

In 2008, American Fork Ranch embarked upon an ambitious, multi-tiered program to wholly rejuvenate the ranch’s native prairies. To do this, the Evjenes worked in partnership with the NRCS and its Environmental Quality Incentives Program. This program helped them to cross-fence, develop water, complete range assessment of the ranch, collect soil samples, and develop a formal and intricate rotational grazing program. Specifically, the largest implementation was the addition of 25 miles of interior cross fencing. This divided 23 pastures that were once very large into more efficient average sizes of 350 acres, creating 49 efficient grazing pastures.

Grazing each pasture for seven days has allowed the ranch to keep forage in front of the livestock and increase weaning weights on the calves, while increasing overall herd health. Pasture start times are adjusted so that each pasture is not used at the same times each year. Resting each pasture for 45 days between rotation cycles has allowed them to clearly monitor the growing and sustained health of the range as the native plants and wildlife mature and flourish.

Some of the dominant wildlife species that share the open spaces of the ranch and its riparian corridors include antelope, whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, moose, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, coyotes, ducks, geese, sandhill cranes, eastern brook trout, along with several other wildlife species.

“Being able to walk out here or drive here and see good healthy livestock, good healthy wildlife, clear running water and lots of grass. Knowing that we as a team worked together to succeed in this is very rewarding for all of us here on the ranch,” said Jed Evjene. “We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Ranches receiving ESAP recognition from other regions include Valley View Farms, Harrisonburg, Va.; Bull Hammock Ranch, Fort Pierce, Fla.; Glenn and Bev Rowe, Lorimor, Iowa; 6666 Ranch, Gutherie, Texas; Maggie Creek Ranch, Elko, Nev.; and Kopriva Angus, Raymond, S.D.

Read more about the American Fork Ranch, who was recognized as the Montana ESAP recipient earlier this year by MSGA.

Meet the American Fork Ranch | Environmental Stewardship Award Winners

American Fork Ranch Environmental Stewardship Jed Evjene David StevensMontana’s ranchers depend on the land and its resources to be successful business enterprises. As such, it is imperative to be good stewards of their environment and its resources, implementing practices that promote sustainability and conservation. Since its inception in 1991, the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) has honored ranchers across the United States who implement these practices and are great examples of being stewards of their resources.

For the past 25 years, Montana Stockgrowers Association has proudly sponsored the Montana ESAP program, and with support of the Montana Beef Council, recognize this year’s Montana recipient, the American Fork Ranch of Two Dot, as a ranch going above and beyond to implement good stewardship practices for their land, resources, wildlife and community.

The American Fork Ranch (Facebook), a commercial cow-calf operation in Wheatland and Sweet Grass counties, is owned by the Stevens Family and is managed by Jed and Annie Evjene. Jed is a long-time active member of the Montana Stockgrowers Association and currently serves as Director of the South Central district for the Association.

American Fork Ranch Environmental Stewardship Annie Evjene“The Stevens family, Annie and I, along with all of our crew could not be more proud to receive this recognition,” says Jed Evjene. “Over the past 17 years, we’ve worked hard to preserve the legacy of this ranch, improve its pastures, croplands and cattle. Making a ranch like this work while being conscious of the environment around us takes a good team and we’re honored to be Environmental Stewardship Award recipients.”

The ranch, established in 1882 as a sheep operation, was purchase by Colonel Wallis Huidekoper and designated “The American Ranch”. An idealistic soldier, Huidekoper built a series of whitewashed and red-roof structures along a plumb line, to form an orderly village that still stands today. In 1945, Col. Robert T. Stevens purchased the operation and renamed it as “The American Fork Ranch”. Steven’s vision was that the ranch would remain as a consistent and economically viable unit in the community, rather than a vacation or leisure home for future generations of the family.

As current ranch managers, Jed and Annie Evjene, joined the ranch in 1998, a consensus among the owners had already began to refocus the ranch’s efforts to be better stewards of the land, conserve their natural resources and ensure the ranch’s economic and environmental sustainability. The changes focused on the principles of utilizing the best available scientific knowledge and business practices, enhancing stewardship values with long-term perspectives to invest in the land and environment, and to preserve the ranch’s historic value and beauty.

Over the past 17 years, the Stevens and Evjenes families have focused on establishing relationships among all key aspects of the ranch: rangeland, water, crop production, cattle herd, wildlife, cottonwood forests, employees, family, community and the beef industry to integrate a model of sustainability. These cooperative efforts have led to relationships and projects in coordination with professionals from numerous universities, state and federal agencies, area and state Stockgrower organizations, and several youth programs.

The Evjenes have a knack for intensive record management, allowing them to use that information to tract what works and what does not when managing the ranches resources. The results have been implementing grazing practices, with the use of more than 25 miles of interior fencing, 15,500 feet of stock water pipeline, spring water development, and weed control to develop grazing systems that better utilize resources in a manner that complements the landscape and environment.

American Fork Ranch Environmental Stewardship Jed EvjeneThe cowherd at the American Fork has been managed to adapt to its environment over the past two decades. Reducing cow size, along with management of grazing and water systems, has allowed for better and more uniform utilization of forage supplies, increased calf weaning weights, minimized cow inputs and overall improvements in cow efficiency and operation sustainability. The calves are raised and marketed without the use of artificial hormones or supplements, and have shown consistent adaptations to market demands using improved herd genetics. A severe drought in 2012 threatened feed supplies for the herd, but thanks for foresight in grazing management and temporary herd reduction, the ranch survived the drought period with minimal negative impacts.

Today, the American Fork Ranch is home to a diverse population of plant species and managed wildlife populations. Intensive record keeping, over a decade of range monitoring, water development projects and weed management have led to pasture conditions that promote diverse plant species and thick stands of stockpiled forage for year-round grazing. A heavy focus on riparian area management has allowed for recovery of plant species, Cottonwood forest regrowth, improved water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat, even in the presence of livestock grazing.

“Even though the Stevens family may not live here year round, they are all involved in the ranching operation,” says Annie Evjene. “Especially the third and fourth generations of the Stevens family know a lot about the ranching business and are trying to carry on to the next generation.”

“The Stevens kids are like our own. When they come to the ranch, they jump right in with the crew, can run any piece of equipment, move cattle and are excited about sharing the experience of this ranch with others. It’s an all-around team effort,” says Jed.

MESAP logo PNGAs recipient of this year’s Montana ESAP recognition, the American Fork will submit an application this month for the regional ESAP awards, to be announced in July 2015. Throughout 2015, Montana Stockgrowers will continue to share more about the American Fork Ranch, the Stevens and Evjene families, and their work as examples of Environmental Stewardship within the Montana ranching community.

To learn more about the Montana Environmental Stewardship Award program, click here. The Montana ESAP program is partially sponsored by the Montana Beef Checkoff programs.