“There is something to be proud of every day.”
That was Jackson County Farm Bureau member Darby Sampson’s response when asked why she is proud to be a farmer.
Sampson added, “Some days I’m proud of the calf we saved. Others, I’m proud of how well we all worked together to accomplish a goal.”
Darby and her husband of 15 years, Clint, farm in Jackson County with Clint’s parents Alan and Kathy. The farm has transitioned from milking dairy cows to raising beef cattle and crops.
Sampson worked off the farm for Dairyland Laboratories, Inc., for five years before the farm was able to sustain her and Clint full-time. Today, the couple make nearly every decision about the daily management and future of the farm together.
“There’s always a list of improvements we would like to make, and even though we cross things off, it never seems to get shorter,” said Sampson.
The couple grows crops on 4,000 acres and cares for 200 Angus and Simmental cow/calf pairs. The farm also is home to a handful of ewes that have lambs each spring to be shown at the county fair.
“It is so rewarding to watch your children grow up on a farm and see them learn something new every day,” Darby shared. “We want the farm to sustain us and our children, should they decided this is the lifestyle they would like.”
While farming full-time takes the majority of her time, Darby knows that marketing agricultural products and connecting with consumers also needs to be a priority.
“I pursued a degree in animal science and always said that the only reason I needed crops classes was so I could feed my animals,” Sampson joked. “I also remember taking a required marketing class and thinking I would never use any of that information. It’s funny how life works because I use that knowledge almost every day.”
Promotion and Education
Sampson first became involved with Jackson County Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Committee when the county was looking for someone to help with Ag in the Classroom activities.
“I really enjoy going into classrooms and interacting with the students,” Sampson shared. “This position came available while my kids were young, so I looked at it as an opportunity to do something I enjoy off the farm and interact with people I don’t otherwise see.”
In 2014, Sampson was elected to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Committee as the District 4 representative. This year, she will wrap up her second, and final, three-year term on the state committee serving as chair.
“With this being the last year on the committee, it played a major role in me deciding to run for chair,” Sampson shared. “I had served as vice-chair for the two years prior, so it felt like a natural next step.”
Sampson says the committee is made up of Farm Bureau members who are passionate about teaching others about agriculture and providing resources to farmers and agriculturists to help them share their story
“If you’re looking to get involved with the Promotion and Education program, start by volunteering with your county committee,” Sampson said. “If you’re hesitant to get started, choose an activity that aligns with your interests and experiences. It is much easier to talk about something you know well.”
Farm Bureau Involvement
Sampson and her husband were asked to join Farm Bureau by Steve Kling, Jackson County Farm Bureau president and a family friend. Kling encouraged Clint and Darby to apply for the Achievement Award and was a motivating force behind Darby joining the county Ag in the Classroom program.
“I think the most successful way to get volunteers is to ask,” Sampson shared. “People don’t often ask for more things to do, but if they are asked it is often humbling how generous people can be with their time and talents. There are so many great things that I never would have been part of if it wasn’t for someone asking me.”
In addition to the leadership development opportunities through Farm Bureau, Sampson is a strong advocate for the member benefits.
“We more than pay for our annual dues through the Choice Hotels discount alone while traveling for work and personal trips,” Sampson explained.
Farm Bureau plays a major role in the Sampsons’ lives. While Darby isn’t one to boast, she and her husband have given countless hours of volunteer time to help Farm Bureau grow stronger and build a solid foundation for the Promotion and Education program.
When it comes to being a farmer, a mom, a Farm Bureau member and the leader of the Promotion and Education program, pride is evident when speaking with Darby Sampson.
“Building connections with consumers is so important when trying to debunk the misconceptions about agriculture,” Sampson shared. “I’m grateful for the opportunities through Farm Bureau that have allowed me to share my agriculture story. I’m proud to be a farmer and proud to be a Farm Bureau member.”
Original story appeared in the April|May 2020 Rural Route. Photos and story by Sarah Hetke.