Episode 019 - Podcast Host and Ranch Wife, Natalie Kovarik

In this episode of the Kick Your Boots Up Podcast, hear Natalie Kovarik’s story as she takes us on a journey through her world. From sharing her experiences as a devoted ranch mama to offering valuable insights into the agricultural industry through her Discover Ag podcast, Natalie's dynamic personality shines through as she effortlessly balances her rural lifestyle with her passion for fashion, proving that cowgirl boots and couture can indeed go hand in hand. Also, hear how Natalie likes her steak cooked.

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Podcast Transcript

Taylor McAdams: You're listening to the Kick Your Boots Up Podcast where we swap stories of the West. Whether you're just waking up or getting in for the day, come on in and kick your boots up. Joining us this week on the Kick Your Boots up podcast is none other than Natalie Kovarik. Natalie, I'm honored personally to have you on your story’s incredible. You're one of the hosts of the Discover at AG podcast, the founder of Elevate AG, you are the face the woman of Kovarik Cattle Company, you live in Nebraska, you wear all the many different hats. A super inspiring boss babe. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to be here today.

Natalie Kovarik: I am so honored to be here I am in my Justin boots. So I feel like I could not be more prepared for this interview.

Taylor McAdams: Yes, hopefully, it'll chan– you'll channel that channel, the inner Justin for this. It's gonna be fun. But before we get started, go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and how you grew up and just how you got to where you are today. Just a brief elevator speech of yourself. 

Natalie Kovarik: Yeah, I'd be honored. So as you said, my name is Natalie Kovarik I ranch in central Nebraska with my husband. We own and operate Kovarik Cattle Company, which is at our heart, I would say cow-calf operation. But my husband is super passionate about genetics. And so we're also growing a registered herd of our own. I am a Nebraska transplant. So Midwest nice does not apply to me. I was actually born in southwest Montana, I grew up on a ranch there. Like I think a lot of kids in agriculture. I had a really beautiful childhood on our family ranch. But my parents really encouraged all of us girls, I have three older sisters, and they encouraged all of us to kind of spread our wings, they wanted us to leave the ranch, go experience, get a degree outside of agriculture. That was important to them, too. So I did that I went to school for pharmacy. And that was my life for quite a while I was practicing as a full-time pharmacist, I was living in a bigger city in Montana, which obviously is a very relative term, it's still probably a smaller city compared to other places. But I just wasn't on the ranch. I was very close to our family ranch. But I'll be honest when I say I never thought I would be where I am. I just didn't envision living on a ranch marrying a rancher, and I definitely didn't envision my income being derived from ranching. So God had other plans. And you know, thankfully he did the man upstairs knows what he's doing. When he brought me full circle, I met my husband and our family wholesale. And he bought a bull and he whisked me away and brought me down to Nebraska where, like you said, we ranch and then I also share online.

Taylor McAdams: You have got to be the coolest, I have so many questions from that. But let's back up just a little bit and talk about the stuff that you do with your kids because you get to be a mom and a rancher at the same time. And I think that's something that's underappreciated sometimes talk to us about the insides and outsides of that life.

Natalie Kovarik: Yes, so I have three boys of varying in age, my oldest is a teenager, I have a toddler, and then I have a two-year-old, so not kind of a baby kind of not. So we're in the woes of all the different stages. And like you said, it is a you know, anyone who's been blessed to be a mother knows the joys of motherhood, but also it is a darn roller coaster. And I think one of the things a lot of people ask me what I love most about, you know, living the ranch life or getting to be involved in agriculture. And immediately, My heart always goes to the way I get to spend so much time with my family. And so our boys are with us a lot. And as you said, sometimes that is wonderful. And it's a fun day of touring, and we're out making memories and the weather is warm, and there'll be you know, behaving and it's just idyllic. And other days, I think my husband is like, why are we all jammed in the Ranger? The kids are naughty, you know, it's just not the best of days. But at the end of the day, I really, I just can't imagine truly cannot imagine living my life 24/7 A different way.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, and you're owning it. I love on your Instagram bio how it says if Yellowstone and Ralph Lauren were to have a child have a kid that would be you. And I think that's so funny and so true to you live a very, very vastly different lifestyle than a lot of women out there. Tell us about what makes you you and what makes your life so different from everyone else because it truly is.

Natalie Kovarik: You know, it's funny when you grow up in agriculture, or even small town I feel like what you know, is what you know, or what you see is what you know. And so I never really realized that we're living kind of this unique life or we have this different perspective on life. For actually quite a long time. I feel like even when you go to college in Montana, you know, it's just a smaller state. It's a smaller community, and so well in size, it's a big state, but you know what I mean population-wise. So it took me a long time to realize that what what we do get to live in this industry and the way I am living my life is different, and honestly I think social media is what really shed light on how different you know, we're living life, but yeah, it's um, it's the, as you said, I wear a lot of different hats. I've always if you look at my Instagram page, kind of like you said, my bio, I'm trying to meld the beauty of the Western world kind of my love for fashion and the creative side of me, they're the artistic eye that I like strive to bring to the platform with, you know, the truth of agriculture. The not-so-pretty side of it, you know, the the reality of agriculture, and also, you know, advocating for the industry and kind of taking a more educational stance to kind of, you know, hopefully, connect to consumers, or, you know, just open the door to what I think they've lost almost put a face to agriculture. I feel like when, you know, people are out shopping, they don't think of the person behind the food anymore. And I hope that's what you know, my page and lifestyle shows is it just reminds them of the face the person behind the food, because behind every piece of food, there's always a person, there's always a family.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah, you don't just go to the store and you don't just go to McDonald's and food magically appears. And I think you're doing a great job with that. But to kind of I hate to ask you this question and be so cliche like everyone else probably is. But since you're from Montana, and you grew up there is your lifestyle growing up? Was it anything like Yellowstone? Can you relate to Yellowstone at all?

Natalie Kovarik: So I'll be honest, I've only watched two seasons of Yellowstone the first two. So I mean, I enjoy watching when I did watch it, I enjoyed watching. And I do think they use the terms properly. They use a lot of the cities that like the terminology appropriately, I think it was filmed in Utah. So, unfortunately, a lot of the setting isn't Montana. But I am proud. I'm thankful I guess that Yellowstone has kind of opening the door and connecting so many people to make like Western cool again. So I never mind. As you know, it's in my bio. I never mind when people associate me with Yellowstone, but I don't I don't know if there's like major parallels.

Taylor McAdams: I'm glad we cleared that up that we needed some clarity there. 

Natalie Kovarik: Yeah. 

Taylor McAdams: And kind of moving on through that, though. You mentioned before that people don't know where their meat comes from. And because of that, you mentioned the person. There are joys and discomforts, there are highs and lows in the agriculture industry. And let's shed a light on that for a second. Because it's very important to me, and very important to you as a person that the world knows that people work hard for this lifestyle. And it's a privilege.

Natalie Kovarik: Yeah, I think one of the things that is often overlooked, and I think even within the industry, we just move past it so quickly of because we just, it's our reality, so we accept it. But one thing I try to open up the door to or shed light on, like you said is, I think the reality of agriculture, and how hard it is, as an industry be tied to something that is really out of your control. So, you know, every day we wake up and Mother Nature is out of our control, we don't know what she's going to do to make our day better or worse. You know, when we deal with pricing? We are price takers, not makers. And so dealing with like market prices is really stressful. I mean, there's so many variables within the agriculture industry that is truly out of our control as a farmer and rancher, which is why I think mental health is such an issue in the industry. And so I really try to shed light on that and let people know, like you said, when it comes to our food and the person behind it, here's kind of what they deal with. Yeah, I think people know that farmers work hard. But do they think about, you know, what happens when the rain comes? Or what happens when we're in a drought, like what that actually does to our crop, or our cattle? And then in turn, you know, when you think about the cattle and the crops, what does that actually do to our paycheck at the end of the year, or the sale we're going to have or the the prices we get when it comes to the markets. And so I think I try and shed light on like the many variables that make up the agriculture industry, because I think people just kind of streamline it and make it very black and white, like a farmer and rancher is this person. And they do this and then we get food. Like it's very simple. And agriculture is just complex. It's like a spider web of things.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah, truly is. And since you're such a pro in your field, I've got to ask how do you like your steak cooked?

Natalie Kovarik: Oh, I'm gonna be one of those people. But like should lie to answer. But I don't I don't even know medium. I usually go medium. Well, sometimes I'll if I'm at I know I'm at the right place. I'll go medium. But I wish I was cool and ordered it you know, like medium rare, like, you know, good ranchers do. But I'm a terrible. I'm a terrible example of how you should order your steak.

Taylor McAdams: That's okay. We'll give you grace. You mentioned that it's really hard and the mental health aspect. I want to touch a little bit more on that because mental health is important in the world, let alone the industry. And I would assume as a mom, it's challenging as well. Just just kind of balancing it all. So talking about the mental health side of the industry. 

Natalie Kovarik: Yeah, I feel like I'm very fortunate. My husband and I have a very good relationship relationship. And I think we lean each other lean on each other a lot. And that really helps. Like I said, battling all the different things that come so I preach or I hope that people will find that person in their life whether it is their spouse or a friend or a parent or a sibling, someone they can lean on during those stressful Times in, you know, the year that they're having, because I think like you said agriculture, it just, it's just built up and downs. And I think one of the things that helps get you through whether you're in the industry or not really is human connection and relationships. And so, you know, we definitely struggle, but I feel like my husband and I really lean on each other when we're having bad days or hard times. And I think that really, really makes a difference.

Taylor McAdams: Community is important, and enough about the negative negative stuff. I've gotta know, what are the highlights? What's the most rewarding part of the lifestyle that you live?

Natalie Kovarik: Yeah, I mean, I alluded to it earlier. One thing I always say is getting to raise my children and spend so much time with them. You know, we're in calving season right now. And just the other day, we had to tube a calf, and I had my my baby my two year old with us, and he wanted to help dad. And so he was out there kind of holding you know, the bag and helping him my husband, feed the calf tube them and it was I just that moment will stick with me. I just thought man, ranch and farm kids, they get to live, they get to, like, like really experience it. They're in it, they're in the dirt they're in with the animals, they understand the lifecycle. They just, I feel like their eyes are just open to a lot at such a young age and so much throughout the years that honestly, I think a lot of adults don't even get to experience or understand and so very grateful from the motherhood aspect. I also think it's really cool. I am I’ll be–. Again, be very honest, I am not one of those like diehard cow-loving girls, I know there are women out there that just love their cattle. That's my husband on our operation. And it is really, really cool to be around someone who is so passionate about what he does it, it's infectious. And it's really cool to live our life. You know, doing something that, you know, I say we're passionate about I'm passionate about because he's so is it's so hard to be around someone and not have that be contagious and infectious. And so I'm just feel really honored that we like wake up excited to do some days we don't obviously, but for the most part, I just don't think him and I could envision doing anything differently. And I think that's really a blessing. Big, big blessing at the end of the day.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah. And anyone who's followed you knows that you balance it so well. You're a great wife, great mom. And I'm not just saying that I've seen it and I and I look up to you as a as a wife, myself, but then also as a future mom in the near future. I'm not saying anything yet, but just you know, I plans? No, no, no, no, but I do I look up to you. And I definitely think like, wow, that's really cool. I want my kids to be hands-on like that I want I want them to do this, I want to let them ride the ponies, you know, do all the things. So I appreciate everything that you do as a woman in the industry to add the feminine touch to the Ag lifestyle. It just makes all the difference. But another hat that you wear, we're gonna switch switch gears just a little bit and talk about the businesswoman side of you. You have a lot going on. Obviously, I mentioned very briefly before your Discover AG podcast, but I'm really interested in Elevate Ag you community created this community and just tell us all about what it is and what it does and the importance of it.

Natalie Kovarik: Yeah, so I was not one of those little girls that had the entrepreneurial spirit. I'm always jealous when I hear women that were like, you know, I was selling lemonade at age five, I was you know, selling back my erasers at school. You know, I don't know the weird stories women have of how they just were so drawn to business. But so I'm finding my way now and it is it is very fulfilling to recognize that I have kind of that entrepreneurial spirit that I think I've always kind of envied and other women that I didn't really realize I had in myself. So for everyone listening is probably in YouTube, you just need to nurture that seed a little bit, you know, take the chance to start. So Elevate Ag as you said, is an online course that I created with my business partner it's a course and community. It teaches farmers and ranchers how to use social media as a marketing tool, whether that's to promote themselves or their business or the industry you know, their ag story. I started sharing online Gosh, five, six years ago almost now and back then there was no, and even now it's really hard to find resources there's nowhere to go to you know how to sell my direct-to-consumer beef. How do I promote my small business online? All these things, you know, how do I advocate for the industry, and my business partner and I felt like we went to every single app conference there wasn't it was always like, you know, farmers and ranchers, you have a story to tell, Go share it, go share, so we need to be doing and then it was kind of like, how, like, how do I share my story? What is my story? And all these questions came after that. And so we just recognized through our experience of sharing online that we could really offer a lot of help and resources and guidance to people that kind of wanted to come behind us and our you know, wake, and so I never wanted to gatekeeper I have learned a lot of lessons and I have done a lot of things right. And so I thought I need to get this together. I had been hosting in-person retreats for women, but that's very, you know, micro of how many women could attend and who could leave their operations and you know, who could afford the price point of an in-person and I thought gosh, we just need to get this consolidated into an online place where everyone could have access to it and they could, you know, learn while they're you know, at night After the kids have gotten a bed or you know, while they're at school, or whatever the scenario is, and so we created Elevate AG, which, again, has a Facebook paired to it for a community aspect, because I really believe, especially when it comes to the online world, there's nothing better than business like buddy, like someone you can go to, to, you know, social media is just a different ballgame of business. And so having that like-minded place to go to find other people is really important. So there's the online course. And then the Facebook community paired with them. 

Taylor McAdams: Very, very good. And that kind of goes into and falls into a little bit for your Discover Ag podcast, you get to talk about the real-life day-to-day of Ag and tell us about that too. Because obviously, if you're listening to this podcast, we want to listen to yours.

Natalie Kovarik: Yes, I would love it. For everyone who is listening right now hop on over Discover Ag or on all the podcasting platforms. Again, it is my same business partner that started Elevate Ag with me, her name is Tara. She's a dairy farmer in New Mexico. We started our podcast last year. So it's about a year old. If you scroll all the way back to the very beginning episodes, you will see that it is different than what we're sharing now. It actually was designed or intended or launched, like its origin story was to pair with the online course we thought what a great way to offer you know, free advice for people who can't monetarily invest into our course, we'll start sharing stuff on the podcast. We do podcasts every single week. And if you are going to show up to something every single week, you learn that you need to be really, really passionate about it and really, really want to talk about it. And not that I'm not passionate about online business, I could talk your ear off about how to properly use social media. But I also just felt there was like more that I want to talk about, like I wanted to use my voice in a more deeper, meaningful way. And one thing we noticed is women were always asking us more questions just about like kind of our life and the ranch and ag and what we thought about different things. And so what we did partway through the podcast was introduced twice-a-week episodes where once a week, we would do kind of the social media business episodes. And then once the other day a week, we would do these candid conversations where Tara and I would sit down and we just we talk, and we talk about different things. And if we you look at our back-end analytics, we realized really quickly that that is what people wanted to hear from us. And we realized really, really quickly on the front end that that was actually what led us up more. And so we evolved that into what it is now we rebranded it as the Discover AG. We're pairing it with a docu-series that we're filming right now. And we really just want to, you know, you kind of said earlier, but we want to bring a female aspect to agriculture, we want to make agriculture relatable again, we want to make it sexy and fun and exciting again, and so we pick trending topics in the news, and we break them down giving our opinions that are you know, two millennial women. And so it's fun. It's different. But it's a kind of an Ag News Source, but it's it's it's my favorite. It's what I'm devoting a lot of my energy into in 2023. 

Taylor McAdams: I'm really obsessed with the possible podcasting platform for you. And it's very interesting. I do encourage everyone to go out and listen. I know I learned so much too. And I do I enjoy you guys talking your banter. Your relationship is so fun. You guys are lively women. And to me, I feel like I learned something every episode. So very, very, that's very fun as well. But unfortunately, we're out of time. So before we go, I want everyone out there to get a chance to follow you go to your website. So plug yourself away. Where can we find you? Where can we invest in your class, all of it. 

Natalie Kovarik: Oh, thank you. So my home base is Instagram. It's always been my home platform. It's just my name Natalie Kovarik. From there you can kind of find everything if you're interested in learning through Elevate AG, that's our website elevate your ag story .com. And again, if you are our podcast junkie, kind of like I am, I would love it if you'd hop over to our podcast Discover AG.

Taylor McAdams: Very nice. Natalie, thank you for taking the time out of your busy mom-work ranch life schedule to join us. I've learned so much. It's been good to getting to hear the story from your perspective. And I just wish you all the best in everything that you do in the future.

Natalie Kovarik: Thank you so much. It's a joy to be part of the Justin and family.

Taylor McAdams: Thanks for joining us on Kick Your Boots Up. I'm your host Taylor McAdams, and we can't wait to share the next story of the West. Until then feel free to like subscribe and leave us a review. Follow us on social media at Justin Boots to keep up with our next episode. And we'll see you the next time you kick your boots up.