February 24, 2020
First, it was a commercial and then a dream that sparked my passion. It was February 2013 and I had just quit my job. The Super Bowl was on that weekend. There I was sitting in my basement watching the game, wondering what in the heck I had just done, leaving my career of over a decade and the commercial came on. It was set to a speech by Paul Harvey called God Made a Farmer and I loved it. It reminded me of my grandpa, and of the landscape of Iowa that I love so much. It was a Ram truck commercial and it was absolutely beautiful and it showed agriculture in a magnificent light but there were just a few women included. At that time you just didn’t see the women pictured anywhere in agriculture but today they make up 36% of the industry. Shortly afterward I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea that I could do something to show more of the women in agriculture and I set out with my camera to do just that.
Fast forward nearly seven years, and here I am working towards that dream still. It's grown and it’s changed. I added merchandise, photography exhibits, events, a TV show, podcast, and radio show. I’ve seen hundreds of women on the other side of my camera who now can see themselves in a different light. In December a call came through and it’s one I’m so glad I answered. Country artist Tenille Townes had teamed up with National FFA and Ram Trucks on a tribute to women in agriculture for the celebration of 50 years of women in FFA. She had written a song celebrating the same women that have graced the other side of my camera lens. I had the images of the women who she wrote about in her beautiful words. Daughters, mothers, sisters, wives, grandmothers, cousins, friends, neighbors, all of them.
Once the connection was made, I took a few more pictures that week to make sure that we really showed off the young women who are in FFA today. I spent a morning with the Des Moines FFA and then I also visited a few young women, Ella Moss and the Pion sisters, who had taken the time to attend our Grow by FarmHer event in Iowa the previous fall.
I followed along as they fed cattle and cared for the sheep, goats, pigs, chickens. I watched as they interacted with their families and their friends and yet again I was reminded that FarmHers are the culture of agriculture.
In the coming weeks, I traveled to Nashville where I was able to document the recording of her song and music video, which by the way, featured all women musicians, a feat that rarely, if ever, happens. A group of extremely talented women who came together to lift up and celebrate other women.
I am honored to be a part of this project. Coming together to celebrate women through our different talents was so cool. Tenille Townes used her creativity and artistry to celebrate and lift up the same women that I do. They are worth sharing, worth celebrating. They are just like you and just like me. They are wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters. They are everything and they are brought together by one mission; to nurture their families and communities, grow food, raise animals and love the land.
Ladies, I’m here to tell you, dream big and dream often. When something lights your fire, run after it with all you have and those dreams will come true. So, here’s to you. Here’s to the women who feed the world.
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