Julie Morris (Class 33)


Julie Morris (33) is co-owner of the family-owned and operated T.O. Cattle Company, one of the state’s oldest cattle and beef companies, and Morris Grassfed, which produces 100% pasture-raised beef in San Juan Bautista. She is the agricultural liaison for UC Cooperative Extension Santa Clara County, serves on the Santa Clara County Food System Alliance and Soil Centric advisory boards and formerly served on the San Benito Agricultural Land Trust advisory board. Morris graduated from San Diego State University in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed her Ag Leadership fellowship in 2004.


Increased self-awareness is a hallmark of the Ag Leadership Program. What have you learned about yourself and your interactions with those around you?
I participated in Ag Leadership at a crucial time in my career: my children were in middle school, allowing me more time to focus on our business, and we were just beginning to see grassfed beef sales take off in the early 2000s. Ag Leadership taught me that to be successful, you need to balance time and energy between personal and professional priorities. I learned that no one accomplishes anything alone. You need to work in teams and learn to delegate and appreciate the work from your co-workers and family members.

How did the program help you develop your leadership skills and abilities?
Putting 30 people in a room with different opinions and approaches was a constant exercise in listening. Ag Leadership taught me how to repeat back what I’ve heard so people know they’ve been heard. I think the best leaders are willing to give up the floor and let others shine.

What impact did the personal coaching make on your leadership capacity?
The personal coaching was one of the most valuable parts of Ag Leadership. Dr. Annie King’s LEAD Project helped me think about – and write down – short and long-term goals, both personal and professional. That exercise is something I still do today, 20 years later, and I find it just as helpful. Personal coaching was helpful because it allowed each of us to focus on our own, individual weaknesses. 

How has your understanding of your specific role as a leader changed?
I used to think leaders knew the most. Ag Leadership taught me that real leadership is not about knowing everything; it’s about being willing to learn from others and give them credit. We’re only as good as our team.

How has your view of the world around you changed and impacted your development as a leader?
We’re living in an extraordinary time right now. Climate change. Racial injustice reckoning. Political divisions. I think leaders who don’t acknowledge and take steps to address these issues will ultimately fail. Leadership is looking at the long game, asking ourselves: “How will this decision impact our grandchildren?”   

How will you continue to develop as a lifelong learner?
Being a lifelong learner is a sign of great leadership. I will always seek out quality news media (they are NOT our enemy!), read books and periodicals, listen to podcasts and stay engaged with younger people. Example: TikTok is an amazing learning tool, my friends! Just be sure to follow smart content creators. Ask your children who they follow.

Why would you recommend Ag Leadership to others in agriculture?
Two years may sound like a lot of time, but when I look back on the 20 years since I commenced, I can’t think of a better decision than Ag Leadership. The program was a springboard for my career, my personal development and my industry. I am still working to promote agriculture and am honored to be part of the Ag Leadership family.