Persistent. Passionate. Purposeful. Kelly Rivard is all three I have learned over the past four years. First, I was introduced to her via Twitter. Then, I interviewed her when she was a junior at North Central College in Illinois via Skype, as her roommate disrobed in the background, not knowing Kelly was on Skype. Kelly, wearing headphones, intently responding to me, did not know her roommate was changing clothes in the back of their dorm room. I held my composure together, didn’t tell her and hired her. She drove across the country to be an intern at my former employer’s new Sacramento office and became an intern I worked with daily. She blossomed, grew and developed her own budding career.
In just a couple of days, Kelly will start a big, new job at a Kansas City advertising agency, working in social media. While she will not be working in agriculture, Kelly is a woman of agriculture, no matter what her day job is.
Why? Read on, to learn, in her own words about Kelly’s love for food, ag and the persistence, passion and purpose that makes Kelly who she is.
Name: Kelly Rivard
Loved ones: My long-haired Dachshund, Rory, and my feral-farm-cat-gone-spoiled-brat, Ferocious Fred. I’m not a mommy blogger, but I AM a crazy pet lady.
Hometown and State: Momence, IL, a booming metropolis of 3,000 people
Currently lives in: Kansas City, MO
What is your role in agriculture today?
My role in agriculture today is in flux. Growing up in an agricultural area, in an off-farm family with agricultural roots, I’ve always loved the rural life and farming. My career has recently taken a step away from agriculture – up until a few weeks ago, I worked full-time as a digital communications and social media specialist in the agriculture industry. Nowadays, my role in agriculture is that of a city-dwelling country girl building bridges between my urban peers and the farmers and ranchers I’m still passionate about.
I still blog about food and our connection to the people who produce it, and I’m still very active in agricultural advocacy projects. Someday, down the road, I’ll have my little patch of rural heaven outside of Kansas City, where I’d love to raise boer goats and maybe a few cattle and horses. You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the love of the smell of cattle out of the girl.
My hometown is all cornfields and food processing. The two major job sources for non-farmers in the town are the pork packing plant and the company my parents work for, which is one of the biggest herb/seasoning/ingredient growers and processors in the United States. Combine that with countless hours devoted to 4-H, FFA, and working on farms, and it’s no surprise I’m so passionate about where food comes from.
Bringing that passion to a large city and sharing it in my everyday life has been very enriching. My city friends come to me when they have questions about their food. If I can’t answer their questions, I reach out to someone I know can. And for every question I can help answer accurately, that’s one less person being fed misinformation about our food system!
What excites you about your community?
Kansas City is a fascinating place. Living downtown, you are 5-10 minutes from farmland – for a metropolitan area, that’s rare and wonderful. I feel blessed to be in a city that is incredibly artistic, cultural and urban, yet is still fairly well-connected with its food and capable of a “small-town” feel.
Kansas City has probably been the biggest learning experience of my life. It’s amazing to me that I can immerse myself in the dynamic urban culture of this city. Just years ago I never thought that this country bumpkin would be living in a high rise with a view of Kansas City’s beautiful skyline. I’m at home here – but I still wear cowgirl boots every day, and I still find myself most at peace until a clear starry sky that isn’t polluted by city lights and expressway exhaust!
When was the last time you tried something for the first time?
My entire life feels like a series of fun first experiences anymore! Recently I bought a money order for the first time. Does that count? I also drank a margarita with dry ice in it for the first time last weekend. That was fun. New experiences don’t really shake me much – I love adventure!
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you?
Kindness is such an underrated quality today. And that’s not to say there aren’t kind people. I know tons of kind people who are just too caught up in life’s busyness to act on their kind nature. I find small acts of kindness and encouragement are incredibly impactful. I also actively share my experiences with life’s hurdles on my blog. As a person coping (scratch that, THRIVING) with bipolar disorder as well as recovered from a history of eating disorders, I share some of my tougher stories and experiences so that others facing difficulty can see the hope in hanging on. It’s also helped me deal with the hard times. Writing feels good, and the messages of support and thanks I’ve gotten for sharing the darker parts of my story are very touching.
Which children’s book best describes your childhood/life? Why?
“The Little Engine That Could.” C’mon, it’s a classic! Really, statistically, I should not be living the life I am. Statistics say my bipolar disorder should have kept me from getting a degree. My eating disorder should have kept me from living alone. My small-town roots should have kept me from thriving in a large city. There are so many stereotypes attached to my appearance and my history that I “shouldn’t be able” to lead the life I do. Yet, I work through that misinformation and my own struggles and I lead the life I love. I’ve never been happier. And nowadays, when a challenge arises, I just say, “I think I can,” and I tackle it. Recently, I conquered the big hill of being laid off and finding a new job! I landed my new gig in under 3 weeks and couldn’t be more thrilled about where life is leading!
What are obstacles you have overcome to live, like Kelly, with persistence, passion and purpose?