New Carlisle woman serves as first female president of cattleman’s association

The first female president of the Ohio Cattleman’s Association didn’t grow up with a background in farming and she didn’t marry into the industry.

Sasha Rittenhouse, who was named as president of the association in December last year, said it’s still tough to explain exactly why she loves the cattle industry so much. But she knew she was hooked after a couple of her cousins living near Hillsboro, Ohio let her show their cows at a local fair. As she became more and more involved in raising cattle, she said she evolved from a shy, quiet teen to an outspoken advocate for her industry.

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“I love them because of what they did for me at a crucial point in my life,” she said of the animals she’s raised for years. “Cattle just kept me so focused and driven.”

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association is a non-profit membership organization based in Marysville that represents the business interests of families that raise cattle to state lawmakers and other entities.

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Rittenhouse, of New Carlisle, said her family made its living in the grocery industry. He father Howard Dodds started in that business as a teenage and eventually owned a couple of stores. He retired after expanding that business into a chain of about 10 Howard’s IGA and Save A Lot grocery stores that stretched from Fairborn to St. Paris.

“I saw my dad working sometimes 24 hours a day,” Rittenhouse said. “I saw literally blood sweat and tears being poured into that business.”

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She said she learned her work ethic from working in her dad’s stores, but it wasn’t her passion. Still, when her parents saw she was enthusiastic about showing her cousin’s cattle, they bought her a couple cattle of her own to raise. From then on, she was hooked.

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“I still can’t tell you why it just connected with me, but it did,” Rittenhouse said. She said her teen and early college years weren’t always easy, but raising cattle gave her a purpose and a job that kept her focused.

Rittenhouse said there are numerous women who have prominent jobs in both the industry and cattleman’s association and downplayed the fact that she’s the first female president. She’s served on the organization’s board of directors since 2013.

“Something in me just loves doing it,” she said of the business.

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