“Biotechnology is not evil, nor scary, nor beholden to any one company. We as Americans are incredibly blessed to be able to choose what we eat, but that does not mean that one person’s choice is superior to another. Biotechnology is a scientific advancement that is precise, exact, tested and safe and is just one of the tools in the toolbox for helping farmers grow more and better crops with less impact on the environment. Don’t dismiss or diss it without doing your research. Whether or not you spend your dollars on the 70 percent of products on today’s supermarket shelves that include a biotech ingredient, don’t buy into misinformation or propaganda, google a scientist, a farmer or a regulator and get “the rest of the story.” -Julia Debes, Kansas Farm Girl working now in Washington D.C. as an agriculture communicator.
Julia Debes is originally from a Hoisington, KS farm which she and her husband hope to return to one day after her husband’s military service. But today they reside in Fairfax, VA. Julia’s husband, Joshua, is currently deployed in the Middle East as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force. Julia works as Assistant Director of Communications at U.S. Wheat Associates, the trade association representing 19 states of wheat farmers in more than 100 countries around the world in Washington D.C.
Julia and Joshua have a new daughter, Emaline who is 10 months old and her current hobbies include crawling and blowing raspberries. Julia’s brother, Wayne Stoskopf works as a Legislative Assistant on Agriculture for Senator Pat Roberts, Kansas. Julia’s parents are Dean and Mary Anne Stoskopf and the operators of Stoskopf Farms in Hoisington, KS.
I know Julia as a fellow agriculture communicator and we have met at ag industry events. I have a huge respect for her insight into and passion for agriculture. Just read what she shares about biotechnology. I literally want her on a big stage in front of millions to share that insight. I also have a deep appreciation for Julia as a mom, working to carry on with her life as her husband is deployed in the Middle East.
Today, I specifically asked Julia to share her story as a Woman in Agriculture today, on Veteran’s Day to honor all veterans and active military and families.
Meet Julia Debes, in her own words.
My husband is a captain in the United States Air Force and is currently deployed. This is his first deployment, and it’s shorter than most, so we’re excited that he’ll be home for Emaline’s first Christmas. I have a newfound respect for the women and men who keep their families going while their partner is away. It’s tough and, at times, I feel a little like a homesteader living out on the prairie. Except instead of wildfires and wolves, I have an amazing network of family and friends who have helped pitch in and keep me sane, Emaline happy, healthy and a million more things.
My husband is over his seven-year mark for active duty, but since we were together in college while he was in ROTC at K-State (yep, married my high school sweetheart), it feels like a lot longer. The Air Force has been a good life for us, with stations in Destin, FL, then Dayton, OH and now the Washington, DC area. Josh even earned his master’s degree through the Air Force Institute of Technology in astronautical engineering – I joke that when we go home to the farm, he’ll be one that not only uses GPS, but also understands how the satellites actually work!
What is your role in agriculture today? Today, I work as the Assistant Director of Communications at U.S. Wheat Associates, the trade association representing 19 states of wheat farmers in more than 100 countries around the world. In my role, I work on our regular publications, including a bi-weekly newsletter, and manage our online presence, including social media and re-doing the website.
How has agriculture shaped your life? How hasn’t it? As a fifth generation farm daughter, growing up in agriculture was a legacy and a love for the land and the people who work it was simply intrinsic. I went to graduate school in Florida and ended up just about as far away from the farm as you can get – working a State House political campaign in Boca Raton, FL. It is great to be back working in agriculture, but I don’t know if I would appreciate it as much if I didn’t have the experience of being around those that know little about where their food comes from and even less about the people who produce it. Through our travels with the Air Force (7 years and counting!), we’ve encountered all types of people, but we’ve stayed true to the Kansas farm kids we are. We also have our end game in mind always – moving home after Josh’s Air Force career is over and taking over the family farm.
What excites you about your community? Washington, DC, is a big city, but when it comes to agriculture (and being a K-State alumni), it’s actually a very small community. We have a regular meeting of those of us working in agricultural communications and I even ran a half marathon two years ago with a group of girls all working for commodities – “The Commodity Classics” – working for wheat, beef, sugar beets and turkey.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? With a 10 month old, it seems like everything is new for the first time! We are currently working on finger foods…so I’m experimenting with foods like acorn squash that I wouldn’t necessarily have tried myself, but it’s on her list – so in the oven it goes!
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? DC can be a very demanding place, which can make it seem very difficult as well. I try to maintain my positive attitude and share my “sunshine and rainbows” with others, although some days it is a struggle! I’m lucky to be married to a husband who is incredibly supportive. Even though he is deployed to the Middle East right now, he still amazes me every day with how wonderful and encouraging he is.
Which children’s book best describes your childhood/life? Anne of Green Gables! My imagination ran wild at home, and I definitely took after Anne in creating a story and a name for every place. For example, the culvert in the pasture was referred to as “The Gorge.” My nose was in a book when it wasn’t chasing kittens and I took full advantage of the beautiful Kansas scenery around me.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? My husband’s home-made pizza – crust and all! Yum!
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? Biotechnology is not evil, nor scary, nor beholden to any one company. We as Americans are incredibly blessed to be able to choose what we eat, but that does not mean that one person’s choice is superior to another. Biotechnology is a scientific advancement that is precise, exact, tested and safe and is just one of the tools in the toolbox for helping farmers grow more and better crops with less impact on the environment. Don’t dismiss or diss it without doing your research. Whether or not you spend your dollars on the 70 percent of products on today’s supermarket shelves that include a biotech ingredient, don’t buy into misinformation or propaganda, google a scientist, a farmer or a regulator and get “the rest of the story.”
What makes you smile? A happy giggle. A good run with a friend. My brother swinging his niece around at a K-State watch party (K-State victory included…). All of the small things in life that add up to a wonderful, happy existence.
On this Veteran’s Day, I want to thank and honor millions of Americans who have served our country, families who have sacrificed and for our active military like U.S. Air Force Captain Joshua Debes. A special thank you to Julia Debes for bravely carrying on with her life as a mom and career woman in agriculture in Washington D.C. and for her willingness to share her story today.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Visit my mom’s GriggsDakota blog today for our personal family Veteran’s Day tribute.
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Earlier features this month include:
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.