What inspires you to make a difference in your community?
That’s a hard question. I guess what inspires me is that I have always had a love for nature and animals. I cannot remember not loving horses. They bring me a lot of joy; that joy needs to be shared. I would love for everyone to have the experience of loving nature, the land and having some kind of connection to growing plants, whether having a flower garden, growing your food or going to the park.
You can’t make people do things. You can only give them the opportunity to do them and then do it for themselves. That’s what inspires me. When you look at the nuts and bolts of it, I’m in a position to be able to do that.
How have you found a fit within Farm Bureau?
My husband was a county board trustee for many years, and the board asked me if I would be interested in the board and I said yes. That was my very first true involvement with Farm Bureau, but what I found is Farm Bureau and I, we fit together like a hand and glove. Farm Bureau is the people and Farm Bureau people are just like me. Farm Bureau members love the land, they love animals and they have a strong sense of community by creating partnerships to achieve a common goal—and that has been one of the themes of how I run my life. Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization that promotes positive change in the ag community and is not afraid of hard work to get the job done. Farm Bureau is just a very natural fit. I was already a Farm Bureau member before I knew I was a Farm Bureau member.
Explain your involvement with your county Farm Bureau.
I’ve served on the Hamilton County Farm Bureau board, as a committee support person, county vice president, public policy action team leader and have been responsible for our legislative meeting in March. I’ve attended the state annual meeting, Ag Day at the Capital and the Washington, D.C. presidents’ trip. We also have hosted (state) representatives on our farm. I’ve been on the nominating committee for new trustees. I’ve been chair of the membership committee; and we made our farmer gain that year. On top of that, my husband Mike and I received the 2009 Neighbor of the Year Award from the Ohio Livestock Coalition and the 2012 Hamilton County Outstanding Service Award from the county Farm Bureau. In 2013 Hamilton County won the Activities of Excellence award from American Farm Bureau for our program for engaging the equine community to enhance Farm Bureau’s presence in Hamilton County. This year, Hamilton County was awarded a $3,000 grant from the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation for a horse trail at Miami Whitewater Forest. Hamilton County Farm Bureau has partnered with Great Parks on a renovation project of over 5 miles of new trails.
How have you grown personally or professionally through your involvement?
Growth is ongoing. I’ve grown professionally by meeting and interfacing with other professionals and being allowed to network from the federal level on down, going to Washington, D.C. and speaking to representatives to talking to someone out on the trails – meeting and interfacing, networking and creating partnerships. Farm Bureau has helped me become pretty good at that and given me the courage and experiences to go on and do more of that.
But then I think what have I learned? I’ve learned to see and understand the bigger picture. I have learned that positive changes take time, energy, commitment and patience. Sometimes way more patience than I really care to. Partnerships are everything. You cannot make change alone.
Are you involved in your community in other ways besides Farm Bureau?
My family is important and is first: Mike and I have two grown daughters. I’m president of Hamilton County Ohio Horsemen’s Council and a board member of Great Parks Foundation. I’m just as passionate about Great Parks as with Farm Bureau. Great Parks is the largest landowner in the county and a Farm Bureau member. With that they have the usual things in parks – picnic areas, golfing and boating. They also lease land to farmers for agriculture. Great Parks has the largest and only public horse trail system in Hamilton County.
I am also an adviser to Diamond Oaks Equine Science and Management program, a high school program where students get certificates in equine science management. I provide opportunities for those students to be involved in things Farm Bureau is involved with, such as an ag demonstration day for third graders.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in a blue collar subdivision – no farmers in my family tree. At age 15, I bought my first horse. At 23, I married my veterinarian husband and that was my first real experience with conventional farming. At age 40, I started training horses full time. At 46, I started our farm and officially became a farmer. It’s never too late! In Hamilton County, there are lots of people like me who have small farms that are hugely important to Ohio agriculture but are not the conventional farms, and I celebrate that.
We do have large farmers, but we have, if you count numbers, more nurseries, bee people, timber people, lots of small farms, great parks – they are practicing agriculture, too and support Farm Bureau. It’s a different way to look at farming. Urban gardens are huge. We are different and I celebrate that, and I love being different. I also am a licensed professional in animal tech and a registered nurse.
Published in the November/December 2015 Our Ohio magazine. Stay connected with and support great food and farm stories like this by becoming an Our Ohio Supporter. For just $25 a year, you can stay connected with Ohio food and farm stories while supporting local foods and community outreach.