To be a woman involved in agriculture today can mean a variety of things. Maybe you are the ranch wife that takes care of everything from feeding the haying crew to actually being one of the haying crew. Maybe you are the foreman of a feedyard, small town veterinarian or ag education teacher. Or maybe you have a job like Katie Lukens Pinke of Wishek, N.D. that makes you a walking, talking, tweeting promoter of agriculture.
Pinke, has worked for AdFarm, an agriculture marketing communications firm, for the last nine years. She currently serves as a Strategic Lead for the company and gets to work with farmers and ranchers every day.
Right now she is involved in a new campaign called, Know A California Farmer, created by a broad coalition of California ranchers and farmers. The campaign is designed to help California Farmers - everyone from dairymen to florists - tell about their ag life and connect with consumers.
Katie is part of AdFarm’s workshops that are being conducted throughout California for farmers to train them in media methods to connect with consumers, i.e. through photos, videos, blog writings and other social media venues.
Katie is a great person to be leading the campaign as she herself has operated a personal blog for several years and is involved in her family farm’s blog as well.
Katie’s Mom, Jane Lukens, does regular blog postings about their North Dakota farm at their blog called GriggsDakota, and Katie helps promote those postings through Twitter and Facebook.
Katie is the fifth generation to be involved in her family farm, which consists of grains, row crops, and her uncle’s cattle operation. She lives a couple hours to the south of the family farm now, but she makes frequent trips to the farm with her husband, Nathan, and kids – Hunter, 13; Elizabeth, 3, and Anika, 18 mos. – to take part in farm activities.
“We quit the corporate wheel four years ago to move back to a rural community that we knew we could raise our kids in. We wanted them to have the same type of upbringing that we did,” says Katie.
That upbringing is what Katie and her family try to correlate to consumers every time they type a blog post, tweet on Twitter or update a Facebook status.
“There is no guide to social media. I tell people you have to make social media your own and decide why you are doing it,” says Pinke. “For us it was about personally telling our farm story and not letting someone else.”
She makes reference to the large national media story that broke last January about the practice of tail-docking in New York state’s largest dairy. Katie says she has visited that same dairy and she was dismayed that the story was so one-sided.
“That is when my mom began to believe in social media. When my mom saw the impact and perception of animal agriculture from just one story she knew why she blogged,” says Katie. “She says the reason she blogs is so she can tell our story and Katie Couric doesn’t.”
This is the thought process that she brings to her projects at AdFarm as well. She says AdFarm supplies the tools and encouragement to farmers and ranchers to tell their stories, but it is really up to the producers to make the connection with consumers.
“The outside world is fascinated by what we do. Family farms need to stand up and tell our stories, we have to want to share,” says Katie who firmly believes the future of agriculture lies in online tools like social media outlets.
Total Country Woman
While Katie spends the majority of her days promoting agriculture and helping others do the same she is also a wife, mother, daughter and community member. She works hard to juggle it all and find the right balance.
She says women involved in agriculture are essentially a breed all their own and it doesn’t matter where she travels to, she always finds agricultural women have the same value system that they base their lives on.
“A Country Woman is true and true. They are authentic and have a unique story. We take on so many roles; wear so many hats and you find a work ethic in us that you may not find in other women,” says Pinke.
While she values her work ethic she knows she isn’t a super woman and doesn’t try to be. She has a few tips she follows and graciously shares them with us:
• Family comes first. For Katie, focusing on her kids and husband and taking care of them is important. When she travels she makes it as easy on them as she can by laying out the girls’ wardrobe ahead of time and making sure the refrigerator is stocked.
“If I am making one meat loaf, I make two and freeze one. We don’t have a Pizza Hut or a McDonalds so having easy options is a must,” says Pinke.
As a couple, she and Nathan make sure they get a few chances each year to get away together, whether it be taking a quick two-day trip somewhere or Nathan accompanying her on a work trip.
• Have the basics done. Katie knows that her floor may never be cleared of toys, but she strives to have some of the basics like laundry and dishes accomplished. “That doesn’t mean the laundry is folded,” she laughs, “but they are clean.”
She says she would rather have her kids remember her as a person that took the time to sit down with them and play a game than a mom who was always on her knees scrubbing the floor.
• Give as much as you can. Katie says she chooses to be involved in her community because it adds value to her own family’s life. Wishek is a small rural town of under 1,000 people and the county actually ranks first in the biggest elderly population per capita in the nation.
“If I didn’t volunteer to do things like a Bible study or Sunday school class we might not always have those options,” says Katie. “I want my kids to remember that I was involved in their lives.”
Our Country Women is a monthly feature of CBW. If you have someone that you would like to see featured please email or call CBW at firstname.lastname@example.org or (605) 859-2022.