Tell us a little about yourself.
My passion for agriculture started on my family’s 70-cow registered Jersey farm near Gays Mills. Wanting to share the story of food, fuel and fiber production, I studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at UW-Madison. In my professional career, I’ve worked in radio, television and print media. Today, I am proud to be the director of communications and outreach for the Wisconsin Beef Council. Through my role, I share the stories of those who are committed to sustainably raising cattle to provide a safe, high-quality protein source for families. On weekends, I appreciate returning home to my family’s farm, which is now a small cow-calf operation. My fiancé and I enjoy raising hobby farm animals such as ducks and quail with our beloved dog, Bonnie.
What do you enjoy most about your career in agriculture? Why?
What I enjoy most about my career in agriculture is that I have the chance to learn something new every day from the farmers we serve. Then, I can turn around and share that knowledge with our customers so they can feel confident when making purchasing decisions for their families. It gives me great pride to use our platform as a springboard for farmer voices so that we can continue driving demand for beef that is sustainable for future generations.
What are some of the challenges you face in your career in agriculture and how do you handle them?
The challenges I face in my career often come from a misunderstanding about the beef industry from across the supply chain. This could vary from questions about animal welfare to food safety and nutritional claims. One way we manage misconceptions with the Wisconsin Beef Council is through our Farm to Fork tours. These tours are organized to educate chefs, culinary students, registered dietitians, nutrition and health professionals, food and nutrition bloggers, media and a variety of consumer audiences about beef production and the way in which Wisconsin’s beef industry operates.
What is one agriculture experience that has defined you and why?
The agriculture experience that defined me and set the course for my career in communications started during my first days on campus at UW-Madison. A group of fellow freshmen living in my dorm toured the Dairy Cattle Center. When I asked what they thought of the tour, someone said, “It was terrible. They put these machines on the cows. I felt so bad for them.” I grew up in a very rural community where most had an understanding of the agricultural world. Transitioning to a large college campus like UW-Madison was a culture shock and opened my eyes to the gap that existed between those who had farming backgrounds and those who did not. This encounter encouraged my desire to work in agriculture communications.
What is a Farm Bureau experience that you are most proud of and why?
The Farm Bureau experience I am most proud of is my participation in the Farm Bureau Leadership Institute. Not only am I developing skills that I can carry into my career, but I am also creating a network among my peers of fellow members across the state. Through this program, I am gaining a better understanding of the organization and how I can become more involved within my county. The Institute has pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and I am encouraged by the support I have received to help myself grow personally and professionally.
Why are you proud to be a Farm Bureau member?
I am proud to be a Farm Bureau member because of the work this organization does today to benefit our farming futures. I admire the community involvement at the local level and the impact our voices have when unified across the state. I truly believe that as members, we can work together to preserve and promote the advancement of agriculture.
What advice do you have for new Farm Bureau members or those looking to get more involved?
My advice for those looking to get more involved is to take the first step. Attend that county meeting, join that committee, and embrace the chance to add value to your local Farm Bureau. Don’t be intimidated or worried about what you don’t understand. Focus on what you can learn and the memories you can make with Farm Bureau.
Column originally appeared in the August | September 2023 Rural Route.