Published on Thursday, July 26, 2018
Pulling out of my driveway two years ago, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. I didn’t know about the logistical challenges ahead of me. Other than when they were on my dinner plate, I’d never given second thought to many of the crops I was setting out to see. Most of all, I had no idea how the people I met on the Why I Farm Roadtrip would touch my life forever.
As I traveled, dozens of farm families shared their story with me. Often times, they shared a meal and their home, too. I was welcomed to church gatherings, holiday parties, birthday and retirement celebrations, even baby announcements. I never knew I could feel at home in so many places.
Since returning to my own home in Iowa, I’ve settled down a bit. I’m enjoying my new full-time job creating news and informational content farmers need to be more successful. But, a few times a month I get the chance to travel and revisit many of the farmers and ranchers that opened their homes and hearts to me while I was on the road. It’s so humbling to be invited back to their communities to share what I’ve learned.
As a small way to express my gratitude for help with logistics and warm hospitality, I’ve been able to present what farmers taught me about success in more than a dozen states. I’ve shared social media tips and career advice with young agriculturalists from coast to coast.
Photo Credit: AFA
When I’m not speaking and re-visiting farm families, I’m often on the road working at trade shows and new product events. The highlight of my trips to Commodity Classic, National Farm Machinery Show, and the National Ag Day celebration in Washington D.C. was running into farm families that shared their lives with me.
I love it when I spot a familiar face winding through a crowd, sporting a Why I Farm t-shirt. Hearing about their accomplishments since I visited is even better. Here are just a few of the things my farmer friends have been up to since I last saw them.
Carrie Mess, Cristen Clark, and I got to travel the Midwest with the FarmHer team this past fall. It was so fun to hit the road again, and even better to be in the company of other women passionate about agriculture. Both Carrie and Cristen had awesome messages to share with the high school and college aged girls that attended our Grow events.
Photo Credit: Lexi Marek
Matthew Sligar is still doing awesome work with Rice Farming TV. I love keeping track of the seasons on his family’s rice farm by following his vlog. I even got to help him out with a promo video he did in preparation for a presentation he gave. More recently, he shared his Facebook expertise in an article I wrote for Successful Farming.
Brian Scott from Indiana helped me out with that same article. His Facebook page, The Farmer’s Life, regularly makes me laugh. He has been posting a good mix of humor and photos from planting preparations lately.
Coley Jones Drinkwater recently hosted me in Virginia again. While I didn’t get the chance to get out to her family’s farm, we attended a fantastic women’s conference together. After sessions, it was so fun to hear the progress her family is making on the creamery they’d started planning when I was there to interview them. An event hosted by the governor of Virginia just announced their farm has received a grant, and Coley says the family plans to be serving their own dairy products on their farm later this fall. It sounds like I just might have to make another trip back east!
Down in St. Louis, I recently caught up with several ladies from American Agri-Women (AAW). I’m always inspired to hear what they are doing in their local communities to advocate for agriculture. There are so many people in that organization that cheered me on as I traveled the country. John and Janell Reid are still ranching in Colorado with their family. Mike and Jacque Compston have the cutest lambs on their Nevada ranch right now. Thomas and Jane Marshall are still very active in their community and dairy farming with their growing family. Wanda Patsche spoke about her journey as a blogger at an AAW event in Minnesota earlier this year.
I’ve caught up with Matt Swanson several times across the Midwest, taking in all the newest information about high yielding crops at trade shows and open houses. He recently shared more of his story in a new TV show called Corn Wars.
I love that I get to see Rob and Emily Sharkey at nearly every farm show I travel to! Their kids and businesses are growing every time we catch up. You can see some of their latest work by listening to the Sharkfarmer podcast, What The Farm podcast, or watching Shark Farmer TV.
John Kennay - Commodity Classic
John Kennay from Illinois packed his Why I Farm shirt for Commodity Classic just in case he ran into me. It totally made my day! Several weeks later he shared his story about seeing a brain trainer and staying healthy on Rob Sharkey’s podcast. What a small world!
I’m so glad the Why I Farm Roadtrip brought these farmers, and so many more, from near and far into my life. I look forward to keeping up with their accomplishments and working alongside them in this amazing agricultural industry.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm
7/28/2018 12:52 PM
Natalina - you are truly God's gift to the agricultural community. Keep up the good work!
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