Katie Pinke / Forum News Service
I try to live with a thankful heart year-round, but since it's November and we'll soon be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., it's a good time for me to be extra mindful of gratitude. This is the first of four columns rooted in thankfulness for rural life. Our home is located 97 miles from a Starbucks. I've used this line for a decade, not because I'm a frequent Starbucks customer but because when our little family moved from south Fargo to rural North Dakota a decade ago I had to adapt to the contrast in conveniences and overall pace.
Do you remember your 7th birthday party? Iris Westman has seen 105 years pass since hers, but she shared with me in great detail her memories of the first birthday party she remembers, her 7th birthday. Iris — the oldest living North Dakotan — is my great-great aunt, a sister to my late great-grandfather. More than a relative, she was my childhood pen pal and grew into a mentor and a lifelong influence of kindness, generosity and grace.
Q: What is your role in agriculture today? We grow food for people. It's our responsibility to use production methods that ensure food is safe to eat, natural resources are conserved and not poisoned, animals are treated humanely, and we leave the earth in better shape than we found it. Q: How did you decide to raise bison and why?
This past week, on a couple occasions, I was reminded of what my husband calls "leadership courage." The first instance happened while attending my 20-year high school reunion and walking the halls of Grand Forks Central High School. I didn't truly know what a leader was when I was in high school — and I certainly didn't have the courage I wished I had.
I'm one year into a four-year term on the Wishek (N.D.) City Council. At our recent monthly meeting, the importance of buying local came up in discussion as it relates to a city purchase.
Q: How has agriculture shaped your life into the role you work in today? Being the youngest by a decade in my family, my parents brought me everywhere growing up, from picking up parts at the local Case IH dealership to traveling across the country for custom harvesting. I think traveling across the Midwest and constantly meeting new people at every farm town helps me as a seed salesperson today. I find so much joy in spending time on new farms and with new people!
I recently read an article that described me as a Xenial, a micro-generation born between 1977 and 1983. We were raised in an analogy childhood, but live a digital adulthood. As a child, video games and TV were limited to me and my siblings because my mother, who holds degrees in early childhood and elementary education, insisted on a lot of playtime and minimal technology.
Q: What is your role in agriculture today? My passion is helping people in agriculture build their businesses and develop personally. Currently I coordinate the beefSD program through South Dakota State University, a two-year program for beginning beef producers. We are currently on our third class, and it's so exciting to see the growth of the program and the people who have participated.