“I was raised around agriculture and while there were times that I hated having to clean one more stall or stack one more bale, I know that it was those moments of “sticking with it” that have made me the woman I am today. Agriculture kept me out of trouble in high school. While many of my peers were off at bonfires and drinking beer, I was at a FFA meeting or cleaning the barn. ” -Alicia Pedemonti
In our first week of 30 Days of Women in Agriculture we have covered women passionately working in agriculture in all different stages and walks of life across Missouri, North Dakota, California, Montana and Iowa. Today we are headed to the Northeast U.S to meet Alicia Pedemonti, in her own words, with answers to questions I asked her.
Alicia is a self-proclaimed “Pork Dork” from Unity, New Hampshire, her hometown and where she still resides today as a newlywed to husband, Jeff and new mom to one-month old, Olivia. I’m a Midwest girl who didn’t know there were “pork dorks” in the Northeast. I thought they all resided in the Midwest! Now, I know the rest of the story.
This woman in agriculture is tenacious, committed and already a leader at the young age of 24. She is the recently elected President of New Hampshire Pork Producers Council. She works as a Veterinary Technician, under the State Veterinarian for the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. Alicia earned her Bachelor of Science degree in animal science from the University of Vermont and is nearly halfway through her Master’s degree in public health from the University of New England. Alicia works daily to improve herself for her family, farm, community, state and her passion, the pork industry.
Meet Alicia (MacLean) Pedemonti, in her own words.
How has agriculture shaped your life? Agriculture is who I am. Agriculture has taught me the importance of my family and my support system. It has taught me about faith even when things may seem the worst. It has taught me the value of a hard-earned dollar and hard work. I was raised around agriculture and while there were times that I hated having to clean one more stall or stack one more bale, I know that it was those moments of “sticking with it” that have made me the woman I am today. Agriculture kept me out of trouble in high school. While many of my peers were off at bonfires and drinking beer, I was at a FFA meeting or cleaning the barn. I never went on a date or had a boyfriend throughout most of high school; my first love was the smell of sweat and manure after a long day on the farm. As an adult, all but one of my closest friends I met through agriculture, as those men and women and have shared experiences and values that only agriculture could teach someone.
What is your role in agriculture today? Agriculture is what I do. It’s my job, my hobby, my education. My husband and I own and run the farm which my family started in 1998. My farm has always had a little bit of everything… we raise poultry for meat and eggs, the occasional steer for the freezer, but pigs have always been the bread and butter of the farm. In the past, the farm was made up of about 50 sows (or mother pigs) and piglet sales made up the majority of the business. I’ve switched gears a little since then, working to develop a new business plan that will work with my very busy life. Starting in 2014, I will be getting young piglets and raising them until they are ready to go to a new farm or until they reach market weight
I work for the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food in the Division of Animal Industry. I am a veterinary technician, working under our State Veterinarian. As such, I am responsible to help protect the health of the domestic animals in our state; this includes livestock, poultry, and companion animals. The best part of my job is getting to drive around to all of the farms in our state. I work on a variety of disease surveillance programs including tuberculosis and brucellosis in cattle, brucellosis in pigs, and avian influenza and salmonella in poultry. I love getting to talk to farmers, hear about their experiences, and see how they do things on their farms.
While I love all aspects of agriculture, pigs and pork are my passion. Having raised pigs since I was 8 years old, has opened many doors for me and has allowed me to become involved in many organizations. Over the last several months, I have built a new website for our New Hampshire Pork Producers Council (NHPPC)organization, which I was just elected President of for 2014. I also maintain the Facebook page for NHPPC. Be sure to check both sites out for great recipes and GIVEAWAYS! In June, I graduated from the Pork Leadership Institute which is a joint program between the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council. The program educates our up and coming leaders within the pork industry about the workings of the two organizations and about various aspects of the industry, such as trade and marketing, social media and promotion, regulatory agencies and the legislative process.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? Last month. On October 8th, I became a mommy for the first time, giving birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl, Olivia May. There are lots of firsts with motherhood. First leaky diaper (that was yesterday), first spit up all over my clean pants, first up all night with a crying baby. And, first falling in love at first sight. There are ups and downs but it has been an amazing experience. At 26 days old, Olivia attended her first NH Pork Producers Council meeting, as we start the next generation in our organization
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? I am very fortunate to have many great mentors in my life. Bill and Lisa Colby, pork producers from Massachusetts, have helped guide me throughout the years as I got more involved in the pork industry. Lisa serves on the board of directors of the National Pork Board and has helped educate me about the organization and has helped as I prepare to run again for a position on the board of directors. So many pork producers have helped to mentor me throughout the years. These people have pushed me and encouraged me to do my best, go places no one from my state or my age has gone before.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? Does a pig roast count? Growing up, sometimes we would cook a pig on a weekend just because, no event or holiday. I love a pig cooked nice and slow all day. I load one hind quarter with jalapenos and the other with garlic, it’s the best. A pig roast also means homemade chili (loaded with more pork and some beef for good measure) and lots of other goodies. Oh and cheese! I always have cheese with my chili. Cheese and pork make the world go round.
What makes you smile? Pork. I love pork. And my family. I love my baby girl and husband even more than pork.
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