This year Farm Credit is celebrating 100 years of supporting rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. In recognition of this milestone, Farm Credit identified 100 leaders and visionaries from across the country who are shaping the future of agriculture and rural America through their dedication and innovation. Max Armstrong interviewed four of the honorees from the AgriBank Farm Credit Bank District, which serves farmers, ranchers and other customers across 15 states in the nation’s heartland.
Penny Lauritzen – Cultivating Women in Agriculture
For years, Penny Lauritzen had a vision for helping young women work in the field of agriculture, overcoming the perceived barriers to entering a predominantly male-dominated field to embrace their passion for agriculture. Eight years ago, she put her vision into action and created the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture event, which Illinois lender 1st Farm Credit Services proudly supports. Now in its seventh year, the event brings together high school and college students interested in agriculture to explore careers with women who are already working in the agriculture field. In the past seven years, more than 2,800 students have participated, with approximately 75 different companies represented each year. Thank you, Penny Lauritzen— a Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives Honoree from the AgriBank District, cultivating the next century of agriculture.
Odessa Oldham – Connecting Native Youth and Agriculture
A proud member of the Navajo Nation, Odessa Oldham started her own agriculture operation with an FSA youth loan, and has since grown it into a 600-head sheep and cattle partnership with her brother. Odessa was the first tribally recognized candidate for a national FFA office and has served as a champion for the organization, helping to establish several FFA chapters throughout Indian Country. Odessa serves as a Native American Youth Agriculture Summit Camp Director and she plans an operation that offers internships for college students, learning experiences for 4-H and FFA members, and community experiences. Of the future, Odessa envisions more recognition for the important role agriculture plays in society, saying, “No matter what the consumer has asked for, agriculture has provided.” Thank you, Odessa Oldham — a Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives Honoree from the AgriBank District, cultivating the next century of agriculture.
Scott Stone – Inspiring Ag Educators
Scott Stone has been an agricultural educator for 18 years, teaching more than 1,800 students about the impact agriculture has on their lives. Missouri lender FCS Financial and others recognize that Scott’s goal each day is to inspire students to continue the traditions that have built a prosperous America. Knowing that the industry is changing, Scott has also become a national agri-science ambassador. In this role, he strives to improve his own teachings and share the impact of agriculture with other educators. He has traveled to four states and presented 12 workshops to more than 200 science and agriculture educators, who in turn will further impact America’s youth with messages about the role and importance of agriculture. Thank you, Scott Stone — a Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives Honoree from the AgriBank District, cultivating the next century of agriculture.
Erin Brenneman – Telling Agriculture’s Story
Raised in the suburbs of Chicago, it was only after Erin Brenneman married and moved to her new family’s hog operation that her eyes were opened to what she calls “the beautiful world of farming.” Erin hosts groups visiting the farm and takes the time to explain their modern production practices to groups like Florida FFA officers, retail food companies, students and recently a group of “mommy bloggers. Erin was recently selected as one of the Faces of Farming by the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, and has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. promoting the pork industry. As an active member in the social media community via Twitter, she strives to correct the vast amounts of misinformation about farming that she finds circulating. Thank you, Erin Brenneman — a Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives Honoree from the AgriBank District, cultivating the next century of agriculture.