“As I grew up, my involvement in youth agriculture organizations really shaped where I am today. It’s sort of like that book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” where one thing leads to another and another. When I was 9, I got involved in the 4-H livestock judging program and immediately fell in love with it. Most of my livestock judging friends also showed livestock so by age 11, I was showing pigs too. (The kids I grew up showing with are still my closest friends today!) When I started high school, my older livestock judging/showing friends encouraged me to join FFA.” Celeste Harned, mom, wife, photography, graphic designer, farm blogger and small business owner from Kentucky.
In the Spring of 2010, I met Celeste (Laurent), accompanied by Aaron Harned, now her husband. Celeste’s southern Kentucky charm melted me but more than anything it was her drive that inspired me. We had known each other prior to meeting in person at the Animal Agriculture Alliance meeting in Arlington, Virginia via social media. Since then, our friendship has blossomed. We keep in touch via the many channels of social media. I have watched Celeste blossom into a devoted wife and loving mother. And I watched her grow as a driven small business owner. As ag communicators and small business owners, Celeste and I exchange notes and ideas. Or seek advice. I hugely respect her confident voice as a woman of agriculture as well as her willingness to support her husband in his family small business, something I have also done.
Celeste loves show pigs. Something I know nothing about but that is one thing I love about social media. I can learn from her! She loves Kentucky blue as well as being a Cajun from Louisiana. Again, I am a North Dakotan and Celeste enlightens me. Her husband’s business is a drive-in that I am quite sure I have to go visit one day with my husband and kids to enjoy the South’s best BBQ. Celeste and I connect on kids, photography, our passion for the industry we love and we operate from the same values system. The connections of women in agriculture enrich my life on many, many levels!
With Small Business Saturday upon us, it is time to make a difference in our local economies. But also you can make a difference with online shopping by shopping small with businesses like Celeste’s which is Celeste Comm on Etsy. I have my eye on an ornament and some wall art from Celeste. She also put together a fabulous Small Business guide featuring rural and farm women for you to follow along with, purchase gifts from and it includes a special she is promoting this weekend with her Etsy shop including a giveaway.
Celeste was born in Baton Rouge, Louisana but grew up on a family farm in Princeton, Kentucky. She now lives 45 miles from her home in Paducah, Kentucky with her husband Aaron and daughter Lorelei, 19 months old. It is my honor to feature Kentucky’s Celeste Harned, in her own words.
What is your role in agriculture today?
Currently, I don’t play a day-to-day role on my family’s beef cattle and show pig farm. When I got married I moved to my husband’s hometown (about 45 minutes away) so that he could return to his family’s bar-b-q restaurant. He’ll be the fourth generation to serve “The South’s Best Bar-b-q” at Harned’s Drive-In. I often joke that I married into the better smelling side of the pork industry! Being on the restaurant side of the food world has taught me a lot about pork, beef and the folks who eventually eat the meat produced on family farms like mine. My husband and I hope to someday own our own farm and I know this new perspective will really be an asset to it.
I’m also an ag blogger. I’ve been blogging since 2009 and focus on food and farming issues. I originally focused on what was happening on my family’s farm, however, now that I’m married and living off the farm, I write about everything from grocery shopping to recipes to political issues affecting agriculture.
Professionally, I’m the “Celeste” in Celeste Communications. I am a graphic designer, photographer, videographer and communications consultant for agriculture organizations across the country. In addition to several family farms, some of my ag clients include the Kentucky FFA Association, Michigan State University, the Kentucky Pork Producers and the Kentucky Cattleman’s Association. Every day I get to help agriculture organizations spread the word about the amazing things they’re doing to provide safe, affordable, healthy and environmentally friendly food. It’s a pretty awesome job!
How has agriculture shaped your life?
As I grew up, my involvement in youth agriculture organizations really shaped where I am today. It’s sort of like that book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” where one thing leads to another and another. When I was 9, I got involved in the 4-H livestock judging program and immediately fell in love with it. Most of my livestock judging friends also showed livestock so by age 11, I was showing pigs too. (The kids I grew up showing with are still my closest friends today!) When I started high school, my older livestock judging/showing friends encouraged me to join FFA.
Through FFA, I found my passion for communications. I competed in speaking contests and team events that focused on current events in agriculture. At FFA events, I met people who were making a career in the world of agriculture communications and worked full-time telling the stories of family farmers and teaching people where their food comes from. I instantly knew that this was what I wanted to do for a living.
I also met my husband through the FFA. We were both Kentucky FFA State Officers in 2007-2008. I really owe a lot to my 4-H and FFA experiences and can’t wait for my daughter to get involved in these amazing organizations someday!
When was the last time you tried something for the first time?
This is going to sound really redneck but thanks to my husband, I’m learning to shoot a hand gun. I grew up in a rural community where hunting was common place. Like most farm kids, I learned how to shoot a shot gun and handle guns responsibly as a child but I was never around hand guns until after I got married.
There’s something really empowering as a woman in knowing that in a life or death situation, I will be able to protect myself and my family. While I hope and pray that never happens, I am proud of the example I’m setting for my daughter to be an independent woman who doesn’t need a man to protect her.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
It’s really hard to pick just one mentor so I’m going to pick one group of people who I’ve always looked up to.
Growing up showing livestock, I learned quickly that you are born with two parents but God gives you plenty of extras around the show ring. As a kid, my “show dads” were quick to make sure I stayed out of trouble and kept my attitude in check. They convinced me to run for state FFA office but made sure it didn’t go to my head. In college they helped me find internships and network in the ag industry.
In their personal lives, I’ve watched and learned from them as they changed careers, were called to mission work, adopted children, overcame tragedy and selflessly gave of their time and talents to their churches and communities. I’m a better person because of them (and when they read this they’ll never let me forget that I admitted it!)
Today, they all enjoy being “show grandpas” and helping spoil Lorelei as well! While we were at the NAILE (North American International Livestock Exposition) this year, she had them all playing peek-a-boo with her during the middle of the hog show!
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
Quite simply: America’s farm families care.
We care about our animals. We care about the environment. We care about the food you feed your family because it’s the same food we feed our family. We care about making sure the food from our farms is safe, healthy, affordable and delicious. We care about old-fashioned values like hard work, doing a job right the first time and passing on the family farm to the next generation.
Be sure to check out the other women in ag featured so far this month with many more to come. I actually wish November had more days in it. Ok, I don’t. But I am going to continue this on because my email folder “Women In Ag” has many more women to feature with a list of women I haven’t even asked yet.
All Women in Ag features can be found here. Be sure to subscribe in the right column of this blog to not miss any updates.