Who and what defines a “farm wife?” I’ve seen some loose debate and banter between women on this topic. I’ve never seen it between plumber’s wives. Or doctor’s wives. Or teacher’s husbands. But there are some real insecurities that have come out in social media about women, their roles and how to define their roles in agriculture.
I think we each have a story. You define your title, role and story. A perfect example and a woman in agriculture we all can learn from on this is Bonnie Schulz, originally from Madison, Nebraska and for the past 31 years from Rural Battle Creek, Nebraska.
Bonnie didn’t grow up with farming but has embraced it, serving and taking on many roles within it, from working in the fields, raising kids at home to being an agriculture technology professor. She spearheaded the creation and organization of the Ag-ceptional Women’s conference in Norfolk, NE in 2009. The sixth annual conference will again be held this November and celebrates women in agriculture and provides learning opportunities and inspiration for woman in ag primarily in Northeast Nebraska.
You might already know it but Bonnie is fabulous. She lives out being a woman in agriculture through her actions and example.
Bonnie is married to Jerry Schulz, a lifetime Farmer. Son Zach Schulz is also a farmer. Daughter, Molly Zimmerman, bank teller and farm wife and along with her farmer husband Ryan, they are expecting their first child in April 2015. Bonnie and Jerry will become first time grandparents.
Bonnie has been an encouraging voice and friend to me and we have yet to meet in person. She first starting commenting on my blog many years ago now, sent me thoughtful notes and gifts and just made me feel connected to her. I love all she does for women in agriculture. Her example is one I look up to. Bonnie speaks on topics such as “Farm Wife 101” & “Embracing a Gratitude Attitude”, “Appy Hour” “Social media and Ag advocacy.” She has been recognized with the 2010 Ag-ceptional Women of the Year of the Nebraska Ag-ceptional Women’s conference in Norfolk, NE and the 2012 Inspiration award at the South Dakota Women in Ag conference.
Bonnie shared her two favorite quotes with me which are:
“Any idea that does not seem insane at first is not worth pursuing.” Albert Einstein
“No problem can be solved by the same level of thinking that created it.” Albert Einstein
As you already can tell, Bonnie doesn’t sit back and let someone else define her story. She creates it. Meet Bonnie in this Women in Agriculture series feature and be inspired by her insight and example.
What is your role in agriculture today? My role in Agriculture today and for a long time has been to empower young men and women wanting to be involved in agriculture. I’ve been involved in women in agriculture conferences in 3 states and both taught and advised agriculture business students, including non-traditional women going in to agriculture for over 17 years. I most recently retired from my Agriculture Business Technology Instructor position at our local area community college. I am currently embracing the work at home farm wife life again and a part-time independent director with the direct-sales company Thirty-One Gifts. Staying involved in sharing the farm wife way of life through social media, blogging and everyday connections.
How has agriculture shaped your life? I did not grow up on a farm. I had only spent time on the farm after school and weekends with my school friends and their families, helping with chores and enjoying the outdoors. I start my story about how I got where I am today with; I became a farmer when I married a farmer, as of now over 31 years ago. I very quickly became educated in the farming way of life. I learned how to drive a tractor and use it to run a disc and field cultivator in the field, haul grain with a gravity wagon, drive a straight truck, and more. Fortunately, I had learned how to drive a clutch when I first learned how to drive a car. Knowing how to do that with experience was a huge plus and confidence builder when it came to learning how to drive a tractor and a straight truck.
My husband’s family milked cows and I was introduced to working with the animals before we were married. Shortly after we were married we added a few sows and started doing some farrowing to finishing. I also learned that when it came to money there is no such thing as a traditional household budget. You have to raise a crop or livestock in order to sell it to pay the bills. On the farm you pray there is something to sell when you need to pay the bills. So no matter the challenges, good or bad I fell in to that love/hate relationship with agriculture and the farming way of life. I say that because it is not an easy way of life. Every way of life has its challenges but farming is a very ‘unique’ way of life.
I’ve always been a believer in the simple quote “Bloom where you are planted.” Although a struggle to accept sometimes, it has always been something I try to remind myself of. That “God planted me here, maybe I need to trust that and embrace it.” Well, I definitely feel that I have embraced that God put me here and gave me this love for agriculture and the farm life. I was blessed to be a stay at home mom and farm wife in the early years raising our family. So how has agriculture shaped my life? Well, I’m all in,100% plus!
On being a farm wife today:
Embrace the technology
Be an environmentalist—Traceability
Information, information, information
Say to yourself “It has never been a good day until I’ve learned something.”
Make it FUN! Reinvent ourselves.
Dedication to keep learning—we need to challenge ourselves to learn more and be lifelong learners.
What excites you about your community? The fact that there are young professionals and farmers staying and/or returning to our small communities and farming way of life. Our young people need to be reminded that just because you don’t think you can farm doesn’t mean that you can’t have a career in agriculture that you can expand the knowledge about agriculture and the love for it that you already have. There are over 200 careers in agriculture. (Still my soapbox.)
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? After learning to program computers and the application side of PC technology, this past couple of years I have tried out, learned and embraced the Apple way of technology! So 20+ years later I am trying something new and learning every single day how to do what I’ve known and taught how to do in the PC environment on a MacBook and iPad.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? a. I have a passion for showing others how to do things and sharing information that may help improve their lives in some way…b. Successful women who’ve embraced non-traditional roles, especially agriculture related.
Which children’s book best describes your childhood/life? The story of The Little Mermaid; never stop believing in your dreams and Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. I’ve never been afraid of trying new things and traveling to new and different places.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? Prime Rib, Mashed Potatoes, Spaghetti Corn Casserole, & Garlic toast
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? In everything you do, always praise God, practice gratitude, take one day at a time; embracing what it brings and making the best of it. There is always, always, always, something to be thankful for.
I’ve turned the Bloom where you are planted in to “Grow and Bloom where you are planted.” I’ve done it and I’m still doing it and my hope now is that I can still show others not to be afraid to do it wherever and in whatever they have been planted. Where there is a will there is a way. Some days you will have to dig deep for the strength but it is always worth it. It took me a long time to realize that no matter what, we have to look for the gratitude in everything that happens to us in this life. Live one day at a time and make it the best day.
Thank you, Bonnie, for being a role model to all women in agriculture and sharing actionable insight with us that will help all of us grow and bloom where we are each planted! Connect with Bonnie on Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, her Thirty-One Gifts Director website and her blog.
For those looking for regular Pinke Post updates, stay connected this month with me on Facebook and Instagram. I am also sharing five giveaways this month through this Women In Ag series. If you are in the Bismarck, North Dakota area, this is the first giveaway that you can enter until November 14, 2014. You can also find links to each feature in the Women in Agriculture series below. Get to know all of these fabulous ladies!