“If I had to use a single word to describe agriculture, “selfless” would be at the top of the list. The “leave something better than you found it” mantra is a common thread between every one of us, and it’s something we carry far past the farm/ranch setting. Knowing that those around me are constantly making things better, not only for them but for those to come, really helps me hold myself to a higher standard.” -Jessie Thompson, a next generation for agriculture in Idaho as she transitions this month from her day-job as the Communications Director for Idaho Cattle Association to moving back to her family ranch to work alongside her parents.
Being a woman of agriculture evolves with age, experience and the chapter of life you are in I have learned. There are many routes you can take to find the path that fits you, your passions and expertise. For Jessie Thompson, she is choosing to take a chance and leave the comforts of her Boise, Idaho Communications Director job to move back to her family’s King Hill, Idaho ranch to work full-time alongside her parents this month. It is not the easy choice. It is a difficult choice. But for Jessie and her family, I have no doubt, it is the right choice. And Idaho is blessed to have a next generation in ranching because of the passion and drive of Jessie Thompson. She will continue to use her expertise as a cowgirl communicator in freelance work. I know we will see her as a woman of agriculture in many roles in the future.
Meet an Idaho cowgirl, communicator and the next generation of ranching, Jessie Thompson, in her own words.
What is your role in agriculture today? I currently serve at the Communications Director for the Idaho Cattle Association, which is a member-driven, grassroots policy organization that serves as the official voice for the state’s cattle industry. As someone who was raised on my family’s cow-calf operation, this job has been the perfect fit for me—allowing me to get my feet wet in the career world, while still staying connected to the cattle industry.
However, that connection to the industry is going to get a whole lot bigger at the end of this month, as I transition into moving home and working on our ranch full time. I am so proud of my parents, and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside them every day.
How has agriculture shaped your life? Agriculture truly has made me who I am today. I am so lucky to have been born into such an amazing industry with such inspiring people. If I had to use a single word to describe agriculture, “selfless” would be at the top of the list. The “leave something better than you found it”mantra is a common thread between every one of us, and it’s something we carry far past the farm/ranch setting. Knowing that those around me are constantly making things better, not only for them but for those to come, really helps me hold myself to a higher standard.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? This past August I flew across the country to attend the AgChat Foundation’s Agvocacy 2.0 conference, where I ended up accomplishing more than one first time experience! I’ve been to different conferences and meetings, but this was the first time I ventured to one without knowing someone when I arrived!
I ended up having an extra day to myself, so I rented a car (for the first time) and drove a round trip of 12 hours to Myrtle Beach, so I could see the ocean (for the first time).
Which children’s book best describes your childhood/life? Petunia the Silly Goose was one of my favorite books as a child and is one that I still use to guide myself when needed. The story is about Petunia, who finds a book and starts carrying it around under her wing. She never opens the book, but decides that because she owns one, she’s one wise goose.
I still apply this concept to my life in a variety of situations, reminding myself that I can’t be a Petunia. Just because I own a gym membership doesn’t mean I’ll instantly get fit. An apron won’t protect my clothes unless I actually wear it. The list goes on and on. There are still a few books on my shelf that I have yet to read, but I’m getting a little better every day.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? My mom’s chicken-fried steak, red potatoes and “Maude Owens” gravy is my absolute favorite!
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?As both a personal and professional mentor, I would choose Diane Johnson of the Livestock Publications Council. While I haven’t been able to spend a great deal of time with her, the time that we’ve had has always been special to me. I don’t know that I’ve ever met someone who is as positive, fun, or has such a great outlook on life—all of which have definitely contributed to her success as an instrumental woman in agriculture.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? Always, always, always be kind. It’s one of the simplest things you can do, and it tells so much about a person.
What makes you smile? I love doing little random acts of kindness. Those little “just because” moments in life are typically the ones that hold the most memory for people—so why not be a bigger part of those?
For me, seeing someone’s face light up all because I took the time to be thoughtful is so unbelievably rewarding. For the month of December I’ve actually decided to complete one random act of kindness each day. Unfortunately the holidays tend to get the best of people, so I’m hoping that my approach will help remind them what the next few weeks are really about.
Stay in touch with Jessie as she moves back to her family’s ranch on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. (Thank you, Jessie. I am so proud to see you blossoming as a woman in agriculture!)
Earlier Women in Agriculture features this month include:
November 14: Emily Zweber, Minnesota Organic Dairy Farmer & AgChat Foundation
November 13: Dr. Janeal Yancey, Mom at the Meat Counter in Arkansas
November 12: Katie Lukens, Not a farm girl to Virginia FFA State Officer to Iowa Ag Education
November 11: Julia Debes, Kansas Farm Girl To Washington D.C. Ag Communicator (with a Deployed Husband)
November 10: Veterinary Technician, Farmer, Rancher & Mom: Meet North Dakota’s Amanda Bader
November 9: An Immigrant for #WomenInAg: Meet Olga Reuvekamp, South Dakota Dairy Farmer
November 8: Texan Melissa Laurent, Long-Eared Humpy Calves Make Her Smile
November 7: Alicia Pedemonti, New Hampshire Pig Farmer & Working Mom
November 6: Crystal Blin, Agriculture Led Her From Alberta to Iowa
November 5: Dr. Rachel Endecott, Beef Researcher & 3rd Generation Montana Rancher
November 4: Jill Benson, 4th generation California Egg Farmer
November 3: Katie Heger, North Dakota Farmer, Teacher and Mother of 5
November 2: Kelly Rivard: Illinois Country Nights, Missouri City Lights
November 1: Introducing 30 Days of Women in Agriculture
For a listing of all the 30 Days Bloggers my friend Holly Spangler rounded up, visit here. Subscribe in the right column by email to not miss any features!
Anne Burkholder says
What a beautiful outlook on life, Jessie. Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself. You make me proud to be a fellow cattle women. I look forward to our paths crossing and wish you all the best as you move back to the ranch!