Emily Krikke from Huron County is the editor of the May 7, 2018 Growing our Generation, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.
Some of us grew up playing with tractors and trucks and the lucky ones still do. I’m so thankful to be considered one of those lucky ones, especially when John Deeres and Chevys are involved. Hey there, my name is Emily Krikke. I’m excited to be getting to share with you all a little bit about my life and how Farm Bureau has made such a big impact in who I am today.
I think that if you were raised on a farm, you were born with dirt in your boots … and once you get dirt in your boots, you can’t ever get it out. I grew up with dirt in my boots on my parents’ farm they started in 1988 in Greenwich. We started as a grain operation and today we grow 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans. In 2006, my parents, Howard and Jane, had the chance to farm full time, and we took the opportunity by building two double-wide hog barns. We contract grow wean-to-finish and raise 10,000 hogs a year. I was very involved in 4-H and FFA, was FFA president, and served on junior fair board. I was encouraged to attend college and went to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. While there, I earned my bachelor’s degree in nursing. I currently work as a Certified Pediatric Registered Nurse at Akron Children’s Hospital where I’ve been for almost 5 years. My parents had 4 daughters, the oldest of which passed away when she was 6-years-old to a childhood cancer. She was a patient at Akron Children’s Hospital during her illness, so working there has definitely been a way for me to connect to a sister that I never was able to meet.
Technology seems to impact every area of our lives, and agriculture hasn’t been left behind. In tractors, we use GPS and in hog barns, we use auto-sort. Our barns are different than conventional barns. We have large pens and the pigs are free to roam from loafing areas to food courts. Water is in the loafing area and to get into the food court they have to go through a computerized scale. To learn the auto-sort system, we devised a low stress training technique that is done at an early age. The piglets learn this system in about 7-10 days. A major benefit to using the sorting scale is we are able to presort pigs before shipping times. It allows for more accurate weights, resulting in a dramatic decrease in sort loss. Since our hogs are used to moving throughout the barn, they have better foot and leg health and are at a lower stress level when loading. This results in less fatalities during shipping. Trucks can be loaded by two people in approximately 30-45 minutes.
With the growing concern from consumers wanting livestock to be treated more humanely and in a more open environment, we thought ahead with the consumer in mind during the construction of our barns. Also, because of the difficulty of finding reliable workers in the agriculture industry, this allows us to use the automation to the largest benefit in helping us during sorting. Krikke Pork was awarded the Ohio Environmental Stewardship Award in 2012 and went on to be a National Stewardship Award winner in 2013 which was a great honor for my family.
After college, I was searching for the missing piece to stay involved in an agricultural organization. My parents, who are longtime Farm Bureau members, told me about the Young Agricultural Professionals Winter Leadership Conference. I attended my first conference a few years ago and haven’t looked back since. It was exactly what I was looking for. I felt an instant connection there and decided I wanted to apply to be one of the “special 10” that was given the opportunity to attend the National Young Farmers’ and Ranchers’ conference in Pittsburgh. I had such a great experience that I wanted to get even more involved – now serving as a YAP State Committee member.
I started my term last year and am having a blast! I get to help plan the upcoming Winter Leadership Conference, attend the national conference in Reno, see policy development in action in Washington, D.C, go to the Farm Bureau Annual Meeting and so much more! I think one of my favorite things is meeting so many other people who share the same love of agriculture like I do – there’s always something to learn! If you’re interested in being on the State Committee, I encourage you to apply or to get involved in other events like the Discussion Meet or AgriPOWER. There are so many opportunities to get involved and I hope you get to experience them. Check out my YAP video and get a glimpse inside our autosort barns.
With an ever growing population, we as farmers are called to step-up. God has given my family and me the opportunity to use our talents and strengths to help meet this need. By using conservative practices like no-till, nutrient management waste plans, building our barns near a water recharge facility, etc. we are using what we can to benefit the land around us. They aren’t making land anymore and we need to take care of what we have now for future generations to come. Farm Bureau helps advocate for issues like this and I’m thankful to be a part of it. I look forward to working with Farm Bureau in the future and staying involved for many more years to come.
I hope you have a safe and blessed planting season and don’t forget to get some dirt on those boots. After all, the future belongs to those willing to get their hands (and boots) a little dirty sometimes. 🙂