The Ground Work series shares the perspectives of U.S. soybean farmers as they observe how the U.S. Soy industry lays the groundwork to grow innovative, reliable and sustainable solutions for people and communities around the world.
What are you passionate about? How do you fuel that passion? Who do you turn to with questions? How do you rekindle excitement and interest when pursuing that passion gets tough?
I am passionate about agriculture.
After all, it’s my life.
My husband Neal and I farm near Hillsboro, North Dakota, about 50 miles, or 80 kilometers, north of Fargo, in the Red River Valley, a flat, fertile area of the U.S. Northern Plains. We grow soybeans, wheat and sugar beets on our farm, which is more than 100 years old. I’ve also worked in agribusiness, for companies who provide seed and fertilizer to farmers like me.
I love sharing about my farm and answering questions about farming and food.
But I don’t have all the answers. And sometimes the daily grind wears on me. You know — we all have those days.
I know I’m not alone. But it can be hard to remember that, especially when my closest neighbor is about 1 mile or 1.6 kilometers down the road.
Like everyone, I need “my people.” Those who share my passion. Who encourage me. Who need my encouragement. Who inspire me to keep learning and improving.
I had the privilege of speaking to a whole roomful of my people at the FarmHer Impact Summit in late November. FarmHer focuses on women who love the land and feed the people. Their Impact Summit brought together more than 150 women in agriculture for connection and personal development.
I served as a panelist for a discussion about our roles in the agriculture industry, and I instantly found myself among friends, though I hadn’t met any of these ladies before. We share passion for agriculture, though we have different stories and perspectives.
The day-long conference allowed me to interact with my people in a way that rejuvenated me. We learned from each other and supported each other — from a fellow panelist giving me a ride to the conference center from my hotel after Uber cancelled on me, to offering advice and encouragement to a woman who will be farming on her own for the first time next season as her dad retires. Listening to these women and sharing my thoughts with them helped me better articulate many of the thoughts spinning in the back of my mind.
Now, when friends and others ask me ag questions that I don’t have answers for, I have a robust network of people I will turn to for answers. And I am a resource for them. I don’t raise chickens or pigs, like some of my new friends, but I do raise the soybeans that feed their animals.
The more I know— both about my farm, others’ farms and the steps between us and our customers — the better I can connect with people who want to know more. I have more reference for where questions come from, and my answers are more thoughtful and complete.
I am thankful to FarmHer for organizing the conference. And, I am thankful to the soy checkoff for sponsoring it, investing in women in agriculture and giving me the opportunity to connect with my people.
I returned home to North Dakota energized, inspired and better prepared to share my passion with others. I have fresh perspective on my place in the industry and new desire to keep learning.
U.S. Soy connects me to the people who need the solutions it offers. It is food for people around the world. It is protein for my friends raising farm animals. It is a renewal alternative to petroleum-based fuel and other products. And that fuels my passion for my life’s work in agriculture.