Implementing Support

Jennifer Spraberry
Whew! What a week! Being busy sure does make the time fly. This week was a hard one, but as I write this blog I am ending it the way it began; talking about agriculture implements. On Monday in Teaching Methods, one of my classmates taught us to “Prevent Harm on the Farm” with tractor safety, and today I am happy to tell you about Jennifer Spraberry, the assistant marketing manager for Wylie Implement and Spray Centers.

Jennifer grew up in the small town of Anson, Texas, but she has lived and worked in Lubbock for about nine years. Jennifer’s family has farmed and ranched in Anson since the early 1900s. She said, “Agriculture has always been a part of who we are; we don’t know any different.” Her family raises stocker and feeder cattle and plants wheat and hay grazer for grazing. Ever since she was a little girl, Jennifer loved going to work with her dad and grandpa. She attributes her passion for agriculture, her strong work ethic, her appreciation of our natural resources, and her knowledge of good environmental and livestock stewardship to the time she spent learning from them. Helping them is still her favorite part of working on the farm.

Along with working on the family farm, Jennifer was very active in 4-H and FFA. In 4-H, she focused on showing lambs. In FFA, she participated in any and every public speaking event she could, and she held a district officer position as well as the position of chapter president. She said that being involved in these projects positively affected her life, especially by building her self-confidence. Jennifer continued her education in agriculture at Texas Tech University. She earned her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Agriculture with a focus in Leadership. (This sounds a lot like what I am getting!) Jennifer also earned her M.S. in Agricultural Education.

Today, she is the assistant marketing manager for all 14 locations of Wylie Implement and Sprayer Centers. Jennifer said, “Every day is different”. And she likes it that way. She said that the business is very progressive. One day she may be focusing completely on social media, and then she switches to planning events, attending equipment demonstrations, and even meeting with website designers. Jennifer loves her job. She loves working “for farmers and ranchers to make sure they have the best quality farm and ranch equipment they need to feed and clothe the world.”

I said, “You have a Pinterest!?” Not only do they have Pinterest, but also Instagram, Vine, Twitter, a website, AND a Facebook page. I was surprised and impressed. Jennifer has definitely used her work ethic to push the limits and get creative with her marketing for the company. She also told me that her well-rounded major at Texas Tech truly helped prepare her for this position. I was so glad to hear that! I believe our major at MSU is doing the same for me. Talking with Jennifer also reminded me that my road is not set in stone, and my plans may change. Hers did a couple of times, but that is okay. There are many ways to support agriculture if that is what I want to do. Jennifer finds herself implementing support for agriculture on her family farm, at Wylie, and on the mystical World Wide Web. That is what makes Jennifer Spraberry a woman for agriculture.

The Women of Sedgewood Plantation

The Family by Followell Fotography:  Judy, Ann, Nancy, Bill, John, and Ashley

The Family by Followell Fotography:
Judy, Ann, Nancy, Bill, John, and Ashley

Hello everyone! This week I am thankful for my involvement in MSU’s Collegiate Cattlemen’s Association which took me on a trip last year to Canton, MS to tour Sedgewood Plantation. We visited Sedgewood because of its status as a purebred and commercial Angus cattle operation. That day trip allowed me to meet Dr. Bill Howard and his sister-in-law Judy Moyers. I didn’t meet Dr. Howard’s wife Nancy during that visit, but she did make us some wonderful brownies. After that visit, I knew I wanted to get back to Sedgewood somehow. This weekend I finally did. I made it to Sedgewood to sit down with the sisters, Nancy and Judy, and talk cattle.

Nancy and Judy are from Louisiana, but Nancy moved to Mississippi to pursue nursing school. While in school, she met her husband Dr. Howard whose family owned Sedgewood Plantation. Judy was working with her family’s antique business, but would help Nancy and her family on the farm whenever she visited. Since then, they all have become the workforce of the farm. They worked to develop the herd, renovate the plantation home, expand the working facilities, and otherwise improve the grounds of Sedgewood Plantation. Looking at pictures reveals how much they built it from the ground up. The difference is amazing. This strong work ethic and initiative for improvement is still a driving force for the sisters today.

Nancy and Judy take care of the farm on a daily basis. There is no job to big or too small for these women. They will find a way to make it happen. I believe their teamwork makes them very efficient, too. Nancy is most interested in the cattle, especially during calving season. One story they told me was about an orphaned calf. Nancy had to bond the calf with a nurse cow which proved to be a difficult task. That cow just did not want to take the calf. Finally after several days of repeated attempts, Nancy got the cow to accept the calf. It was her determination for that calf that made all the difference. On the other hand, Judy enjoys the mechanical aspects of the farm, especially securing the miles and miles of electric fencing on their property. She loves problem-solving, too. When her herbicide sprayer became impractical to use because of the constant height adjustments it needed, Judy figured out a way to use the hydraulics on the Kubota to make the adjustments for her. Talk about ingenuity! Nancy and Judy bring their interests together to help keep the operation running smoothly, and it is clear that they appreciate each other’s abilities. Judy says that Nancy’s liking the cattle helps her like them, too. And with a big smile on her face Nancy says, “Judy can fix anything.”

One thing that Nancy and Judy both love is having Nancy’s children help out on the farm. Even now as college students, they help when they come home to visit. Nancy said the family operation gave her children a chance to learn about hard work, experience compassion, and develop a respect for nature. Judy said she enjoyed sharing the sense of accomplishment and a job well done with the children when they all worked together.

I just can’t get over how cool these two women are. I get impressed every time I think about the pictures of the way the plantation used to look and the way it looks now. They didn’t start out with a big barn or a feed wagon. They started out with 5 gallon buckets. Judy said that if you want to be in agriculture you need to be, “willing to get your hands dirty and put your boots on.” I believe that is exactly what they do. It reminded me that starting out in agriculture can be difficult, but if you are willing to work hard; learn from your mistakes; and keep trying, you can achieve success in your business. Nancy and Judy also reinforced my belief that agriculture can be wonderful for families. They told me so many great stories about the family working together on the farm. There are life lessons to be learned and good times to be had. Nancy and Judy embrace agriculture and work hard to have a profitable and enjoyable but most importantly, family oriented business. That’s what makes Nancy Howard and Judy Moyers women for agriculture.

Cultivated Confidence

KatieA4

Hello all! It has been another busy week here at MSU.  Student organizations are hosting interest meetings left and right, we had our first home game Saturday, and professors are meeting to pick the day that they will all give their tests to us. Just kidding about that last part… But it is getting closer to test time! Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are going in the right direction with your studies. You take a certain course, maybe have a tough test, and you wonder, “Is this really for me”. This week I want to tell you about a woman who overcame the doubts of others and used her confidence in agriculture to turn her passion into her career.

Katie Allen grew up on her family’s row-crop and livestock farm in Marceline, Missouri. She was active on the farm and in the local 4-H club showing livestock and participating in livestock judging. Katie took her livestock judging skills to the national level at the National Western Stock Show and the North American International Livestock Exposition, and then she took it to the collegiate level serving on the University of Missouri’s livestock judging team. To this day, Katie still enjoys judging livestock as an official at county fairs and in coaching her siblings’ judging teams.

She is also proud of her roles as the 2007 Missouri Beef Queen and the 2007 Missouri State Fair Queen. I believe she is proud because these roles allowed her to advocate for agriculture in Missouri. It is clear to me that Katie loved agriculture and wanted to tell people about it. Following her desire to be involved in agriculture, she earned her B.S. in agricultural journalism with a double minor in animal science and agricultural economics and her M.S. in agricultural communication.

Before she attended college, someone told her that she was limiting herself because agricultural journalism would not have many opportunities. Katie definitely did not take that advice. She knew that there were many opportunities in agriculture! It is more than corn and cattle! She was confident and that confidence has led her to a career that she enjoys. Katie is employed as a communication specialist for Kansas State University Research and Extension and the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education. There she serves in many ways. She writes agriculture stories, especially about Kansas State’s research; she leads media trainings for Extension professionals; and she contributes to university communication efforts with Web design, video and radio production, and social media.

Katie trusted her “gut feeling” about agriculture, and her confidence in the field has only increased since. My own confidence has wavered at times, so it is awesome to hear that there is someone who loves and believes in the things that I believe in. Like Katie, I believe that “being directly involved in agriculture is a great blessing.” It is not something to be taken for granted, but from the words of Thomas Jefferson (which Katie provided) agriculture is “our wisest pursuit” contributing to “real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” Thanks to Katie, I am reminded to trust my passion for agriculture. Thanks to Katie, others are learning more about agriculture and cultivating their own confidence in it, just like she has. Katie Allen is a woman for agriculture.

For the love of cows and kids

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I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. I went home to Rolling Fork and had the opportunity to visit with my good friend and an example for cattlewomen everywhere, Mrs. Mindy Rutherford. I have known Mrs. Mindy for most of my life so I am very excited to share her story with you. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Mrs. Mindy grew up showing pleasure horses at American Quarter Horse Association events. Today, she uses her horse experience as she maneuvers cows from pasture to catch pen along the Mississippi River levee.

Mrs. Mindy made her home in Mississippi after marrying her husband who had begun row-crop farming in Rolling Fork. She became a partner in the farm, Kin Growers, and has been involved in agriculture ever since.

In the early 2000’s Kin Growers began building a herd of commercial beef cattle. Once the herd started growing, Mrs. Mindy wanted to become a better producer. She said, “When you know your product is going on someone’s plate, you want it to be the best that it can be.” To accomplish this she has sought advice from specialists and fellow producers. She became a member of the state and national cattlemen’s associations, a Beef Quality Assurance certified producer, and a participant in other educational programs such as MSU’s Master Cattle Producer’s Program. She is involved in every aspect of the business, and her specialty is herd health management. I know from experience that she is the vaccine distributing extraordinaire.

Mrs. Mindy encourages her family to help out with the commercial herd and also show cattle for the grandchildren. She loves helping the kids with their 4-H show cows. For Mrs. Mindy it is about the children. It is about spending time with them and teaching them about agriculture. Working with the children and their cattle has even strengthened her love for raising cattle.

Listening to Mrs. Mindy, I could tell that she truly enjoys her involvement in agriculture. I admire the way she strives to learn more. She seeks improvement for the business, the cattle, herself, and her family. She shares her knowledge and experience with anyone that she can. I see this so much as she works with her grandchildren. I see that she wants agriculture to prosper AND she is working to make that happen with her business and in her teaching of others. That’s why Mrs. Mindy Rutherford is a woman for agriculture.