Why Do I AgVocate? — Joelle Hess and Leslee Mattinson

What is your role in agriculture?

We are 3rd and 4th generation dairy farmer’s wife and daughter. All of our family, farming or not, live on the dairy. As kids we grew up working alongside our dad and grandpa, milking, irrigating, feeding calves, and hauling hay. It taught us hard work, dedication, and strong family values. We work hard, we play hard and when a job needs to be done we can always count on each other. On our farm in Utah, we milk 275 Holstein cows. Our crops consist of corn for silage, barley, alfalfa, and wheat. All of our crops are flood irrigated.

What was your inspiration for becoming an advocate?

There is a lot of misinformation about how farmers are producing food. If we the farmers don’t tell our story, someone else is going to. We want people to know that farmers are REAL people, with REAL families, working hard to produce quality products because we truly care. We find most people are intrigued when they hear that we are farmers, they have a lot of questions and are eager to hear our story, and have their questions answered.

What is your favorite part about being an advocate?

Our favorite part about being an agvocate is meeting new people and sharing our family’s rich history in farming. It’s always eye opening to talk to the consumer and find out what their knowledge is of our industry. It has also been fun to meet some of the farmers out there that are at the top of their game in agvocating, their passion has inspired us to become advocates.

What is the most challenging part of being an advocate?

The hardest part is knowing that you are not going to able to reach everyone. There will always be people who are misinformed and will refuse to hear or understand your side of the story no matter the facts and research you have. We feel it is important to be respectful of other people’s ideas even if we don’t agree with them. We always strive to walk away from a discussion with our farmers dignity intact. Also trying to keep up on all the information that is available to share.

What advice for other farmer/ranchers who would like to become more involved in advocacy?

Just jump in and start somewhere, pick a platform and go with it. Don’t think that your one voice doesn’t matter, it does, your story needs to be told!

What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?

All the great people that we met. It was great to be in one place with people that understand this crazy life of farming that we live.

What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?

The AgChat Foundation to us is an awesome group of people working together to help farmers put their thoughts into words. They train, teach, and keep farmers up to date on the best way to agvocate.



Joelle Hess and Leslee Mattinson are mother and daughter living the dream life on their 4th generation dairy farm in northerDSC_0585 (2)[1]n Utah. Joelle grew up in the city and married a farm boy and quickly learned to love the country life. She has served as her county Dairy Women’s president and spent many years with the Dairy Ambassador program. Her and her husband have raised 6 children and taught them the value of hard work. Her three oldest children are married and live on the family farm with their families. She is still busy chasing three boys at home. Leslee grew up from an infant riding in the tractor all day with her dad. She would take her dolls, blanket, and pillow and set up “house” in the tractor cab. She milked cows, irrigated and missed school to go to the weekly auction. She raised show cows for the county fair and was involved in 4-H and FFA. She is married and has 2 daughters and is the 3rd generation to live in the original 112 year old farm house, which she dearly loves. She now spends her time as the farms right hand errand girl and helping out wherever she can. In their spare time they are passionate about educating future generations about how their food is grown and letting people have a glimpse into the fun, chaotic, and always busy life of one big crazy farm family! Follow along with them on their blog, Instagram, and Facebook and join their adventure!