What is your role in agriculture?
I am a farmer’s daughter turned farmer’s wife. I grew up baling hay and doing chores with my dad and grandpa. We raised hogs, cattle and a variety of crops. I joined my husband on his family’s farm 13 years ago. The farm supports three families including the 8th generation to grow up in agriculture. Today we raise corn, soybeans and seed corn for a regional family-owned seed company. Much of my time is spent volunteering at the school, with 4-H and FFA, and in the community. I also serve as the county’s ag in the classroom coordinator and spend a lot of time sharing the farm/food story with students and teachers in grades K-12.
What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?
I’ve always been vocal about my personal passion for agriculture. The fire was stoked in FFA when I had the opportunity to participate in the public speaking contest and talk about farmland preservation. But, when my farm boy was born – and he was born farming – something clicked. I agvocate for the future farming generations. My kids (farm boy and farm princess) get the chance to live the charmed country childhood that I did. They get the opportunity that our parents afforded us. . . to come home and care for the land and the family legacy. Claiming our spot in the food chain is vital to securing my wish for my kids.
What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?
Lightbulb moments happen all the time when agvocating. And they don’t just happen for non-farmers. I have thoroughly enjoyed going back to school, in a sense. Agvocating has forced me to drill down on details of whys and hows of farming. In the process, I learn something new almost every single day. Lightbulb moments.
What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?
The most challenging part of agvocating – counting to 10, taking a step back, and letting go of the arguments that will never be won. Everyone, breathe with me.
What advice for other farmer/ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?
Agvocacy does not have to happen online, involve a blog, a youtube channel, or a microphone. It can happen in the grocery store, during a family dinner or a church supper. People are asking questions about food and farms every single day. Catch the question and offer an answer. That is agvocacy.
What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?
I attended the most recent Cultivate and Connect Conference in Nashville. Although this was billed as a social media conference, a running theme was prevalent in all the presentations and activities. Agvocating is about relationships with people, not a computer.
What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?
The AgChat Foundation is really the AgChat Family. I have discovered a community of people willing to step in, step up and speak out for me and with me. The passion and commitment to sharing the farm story is palatable with this group.
Katie and her husband, Andy, are seventh generation farmers raising farm kids, corn, soybeans, and seed corn with Andy’s family in north central Illinois. Their farm serves as a platform to talk to people from all walks of life. In addition to hosting their adopt-a-classroom class from Chicago, the family has welcomed teachers, international implement dealers and bloggers to the farm. Katie serves as the county’s ag literacy coordinator and brings Ag in the Classroom lessons to more than 3,000 youth attending elementary, jr. high and high schools.