Amazing Woman in Ag: Katie

Today, we have an amazing woman in agriculture to share named Katie. She comes to us from Grand Prairie Farms in Illinois. As a fourth-generation farmer, the farming lifestyle is in Katie's family. Not to mention, her husband is a seventh-generation farmer. It just made sense that, together, they would end up with a farm of their own.

Even as a young girl, she only had one plan: to "grow up, marry a farmer, raise a family and build a life around promoting agriculture." And she has done just that. Her family consists of her husband, Andy and kiddos Ethan and Natalie. The farm is truly a family affair including Andy's parents and brother and sister-in-law. To Katie, farming is not just a job; it's truly a lifestyle choice. But it's a life choice that she loves. "It's a life choice to live on a farm, to farm, to pay the bills from farming.  I love that my kids are learning daily from their uncles, aunts and grandparents; that they can go to 'work' with their dad and never leave our farmstead. It's rather freeing."

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Katie's family.

Growing up, Katie was "a passionate young girl who absolutely loved my life in the country and taking responsibility on the farm. I thrived on it." With the help of 4-H and FFA, Katie found even more opportunities available in agriculture which fueled her passion for farming. With the help of the FFA, Katie grew into a more confident woman. As a young child, Katie was "an uncomfortably shy young girl who wasn't all that thrilled about experiencing life outside of my box of family, friends and farm." But FFA taught her the importance of connecting with others and learning the basics of interacting with people. "I learned the simple things through FFA - a strong handshake, steady gaze and a smile can take you far."

Her time in the FFA made her an even more successful advocate for agriculture. With that strong handshake and smile, she has become an advocate that regularly shares her story. Katie enjoys sharing the facts with the consumers. "I love light bulb moments…Gaining new perspective on farming and folks' relationship to food is so interesting.  Watching someone start to nod in understanding as I describe why we do what we do is icing on the cake." While she loves the ability to connect with the consumer and share her passion, she admits, it's hard to not let the passion overwhelm her.
 
The passion she has definitely started at a young age. Katie says, "I grew up trying to prove myself to my grandfather and father, trying to prove that, even though I was a girl, I could stack a rack higher and better than anyone else; trying to prove that I was a worthwhile partner on the farm.  Where did that need come from?  Looking back, I can't tell you a time when my grandfather or father made me feel less than or demanded more of me.  That need to prove my worth as a woman came from me." Being a woman, however, has not made it harder on her as she shares her story.  "Gender has no bearing on being a good advocate for agriculture, a good farmer or a good agri-business person.  Agriculture needs good, knowledgeable, respectful people interested in listening and learning and sharing their story." We couldn't agree more.


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Katie's son teaching others about farm technology.

When it comes to women expanding their role in the ag industry, Katie had some great insight. "I think women may have found their niche in agriculture through this movement to share the farm story. Many are taking to social media, the airwaves and community meetings to listen and talk.  No doubt, barriers will always exist for woman in agriculture, but I don't think my daughter will have a tough time finding her place in this industry or on our farm. She may demand a pink tractor, though." We hope she is right. We can't wait to have a pink tractor ourselves!

For more on Katie, check out her blog.  

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sandra vail - Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 10:30:57 AM
I LOVE reading about women in ag! Katie is an inspiration! I have a good sized following on my fb page-homesteading ways-and I will be sharing this tomorrow! Thanks!

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