Katie Pinke / Agweek Publisher
To live where you want or where you've landed due to family or marriage circumstances, you often must get creative in career and job choices. In the past two weeks, three rural women have reached out for career advice, specifically asking about my journey. I live 97 miles from a Starbucks. I use that phrase to put into perspective our rural location, as there seems to be a coffee shop on every corner in cities and larger towns. In rural America, we make our own coffee before heading to work, which doesn't have the traffic congestion of a city commute.
I'm not here to sell you anything. I've never sold anything through a pyramid-style direct sales business, neither did my mom or grandmothers. But direct sales businesses are not new to me. I remember my late Grandma Dorothy always having Avon products and a freezer full of Schwan's food. She wasn't much of a cook. As a widow, I imagine that her interaction with the Schwan's delivery driver or her local Avon representative, both who stopped by her small-town home, provided needed social interaction on quiet days.
The summer of 1988 was hot, including record-high temperatures coupled with a devastating drought. Wheat averaged a mere 15 bushels per acre in North Dakota that year. I was nine years old and didn’t fully understand the dire extent of the situation. My mom broke her leg that summer, which made for hectic times with three kids.
Aside from my husband, one of the most important relationships I've had to cultivate is with my mother-in-law. This week is her birthday. Carol told me, "Don't worry about gifts." My gift, aside from a few things our daughters picked out for her, is this column, recognizing how she has selflessly given to our family and my career and encouraged me as a mother.
In my 20 years of motherhood, I've never felt like I'm in the cool mom's club. In fact, there have been times my husband and I made decisions in the best interest of our children that caused us to stand out. Cookie cutter parenting is not for us. Thankfully, our kids don't know the difference. However, there are times when we need help — and it's in those moments when we find ourselves surrounded by other moms that we realize the value of a mom squad.
If we only shop online, never leaving our homes to buy in our communities and state, what will be left of our local economies? I thought about that while helping with a fourth-grade science project and attending a local City of Wishek breakfast I was a part of through my role as a city council member. It started with my most organized child not telling me she needed some supplies for the tropical rainforest biome project she was putting together for her science class. She thought she could find what she needed in our toy closet in the basement.
What is your role in agriculture today and how has it evolved? Currently, I am an agronomist and a farmer. I grew up on a potato/sugar beet farm in Hoople, N.D. I started working in agronomy after college for local agronomy retailers and worked for various companies. Now I am an independent crop consultant who specializes in precision agriculture, soil sampling and fertilizer recommendations. I also farm with my husband, Jason, and father-in-law, Pete. What is a misconception or myth of you and your work in agriculture you want to debunk?
I wasn't exposed to FFA until I was an adult and am always honored to have the opportunity to speak at FFA banquets and events. Recently, I spoke at the Rugby High School FFA banquet. About 70 percent of high schoolers in that district participate in agriculture education classes and FFA. I've watched them from afar and know they're one of the top chapters in North Dakota, the region and even the nation.
U.S. dairy farmers work 365 days a year to provide the most nutritious, natural, local, farm-to-table drink. It's milk, found in your grocer's dairy case. Were you raised drinking milk at meal times? My family drinks milk on our cereal or oatmeal each morning, and we add a little to our coffee. Milk is also our drink of choice at meals — it's served cold and set on the table by the gallon. And I can't serve chocolate chip cookies without offering milk.
Since March is National Women's History Month, I've been reflecting on a few stories I've been told about a woman in our family lineage whose tenacity encourages me despite never knowing her.