Erin Ehnle is from Edelstein, Illinois and currently resides in Dunlap, Illinois. You probably have not been to either town. But maybe you have seen Erin’s work as Keeping It Real Through The Lens of a Farm Girl. Her photography and images reach thousands. And if you haven’t, meet this fabulously creative and talented young woman in agriculture.
I first discovered Erin’s work a few years ago when she was a farm girl teenager, putting up stunning farm images with insightful words and agriculture facts on Facebook. I have had the opportunity to speak and share with hundreds of youth in agriculture but had never seen a young agriculture advocate share in such a convincing, simply beautiful way. Erin has a gift and an eye. Through the years, I have followed her and stay connected. I have watched her connect thousands to modern agriculture, to farm families across the North America and to the FFA program. And while we have yet to meet “in real life”, we are planning a much-anticipated, upcoming meeting.
Meet Erin as a young woman in agriculture. Be inspired by her below images, simple words and purchase her work, for unique gifts for many friends and family.
What is your role in agriculture today? I work to communicate agriculture’s story through imagery. Sometimes that means incorporating agricultural facts into designs to start AGvocacy conversations on social media. Other times that means using photography to document what happens on my family’s farm. Sometimes that even means taking farm photos for other families to preserve the farm’s legacy for the generations to come.
How has agriculture shaped your life? Growing up on my family’s farm made me who I am today. My parents used the farm to “give us a good, farm work ethic”. We baled hay, picked sweet corn, walked beans, chisel plowed, raked pea gravel and the list goes on. We also learned that the words “I’m bored” meant you would be given a not-so-fun job. As a result, I spent a lot of my time dreaming, instead of being bored. I dreamt of what I wanted to do with my life, how I would make a difference, who I wanted to be. I credit the space that kept me dreaming and the work that kept me grounded for making me who I am today, as well as the greatest parents a kid could ask for.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? Oh, that’s a hard one! There are so many people I look up to and could learn/have learned a lot from. To name a few – Holly Spangler of Prairie Farmer, Kara Kamienski of Kara Kamienski Photography, all of the brilliant people I worked for at Wyffels in a summer internship (Karlie Elliott Bowman, Jeff Hartz, Jill Loehr), Brian Harvey Hogue of Nottoc, Scott and Shawn of AgriLife Studios, and the list could go on forever. It’s been such a blessing to get to know these people as professionals and friends.
Which children’s book best describes your childhood/life? Guess How Much I Love You paints a perfect picture of my house growing up. I never questioned my parents’ unconditional and unlimited love for me, even when I might’ve been in a bit of trouble.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? I’m definitely a meat-and-potatoes girl. Any combination works, really.
What excites you about your community? I absolutely love how my community comes together when something tragic happens. When my best friend was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at the age of eighteen, our farming community rallied behind her family to raise over $150,000 for them. Needless to say, I learned an unforgettable lesson of what small towns are all about.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? This year, I started shooting HD video for my portrait photography clients. The learning curve is steep, but it can be a lot of fun too.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? On a very simple level, I love encouraging strangers, anything I can do to make their day a little brighter. Whether it’s making small-talk and laughing with someone in retail, or being extra-polite to the server in a restaurant, or holding a door with a smile even when it’s not necessary or expected. People really respond to that, and it makes me happy to know I’ve brought them a bit of joy.
Whenever I give presentations about agricultural advocacy, I encourage others to join the efforts. It’s my goal to help them tap into their passion for agriculture and find the channel that best works for them (social media, blogging, volunteering with Ag in the Classroom, etc). I enjoy responding to emails with encouragement and answering any questions the person emailing me might have.
So many people serve as sources of encouragement for me. Without a doubt, my parents are number one on that list. They gave me a happy, healthy home to grow up in. They’ve encouraged me to follow my dreams every step of the way. And even more than that, they gave me a foundation of solid morals and values on which to build my life. I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.
There are a lot of people in the agriculture industry who send encouragement my way as well. Everyone I’ve worked with has been beyond supportive of me and my sometimes-crazy ideas. There are also people I’ve never even met who send words of encouragement my way via email or Facebook message. They always seem to know when I’m having a bad day, or when I feel like I’m not making a difference. They give me just what I need to keep going. I’m so grateful for them.
What makes you smile? Life in general makes me smile. It’s far too short to not be happy. Happiness is a choice, and smiles are just a wonderful byproduct of that choice.
Stay connected with Erin on her website, Facebook page, Pinterest(pin her inspiring images), Twitter and of course purchase prints or canvases of her work. Thank you, Erin, for inspiring thousands by your work and setting an example for a next generation of agriculture advocates!
For those looking for regular Pinke Post updates, stay connected this month with me on Facebook and Instagram. I also will be sharing five giveaways this month through this Women In Ag series. I’d recommend you read every day to find them. You can subscribe by email in the right column and not miss a post. No spam, I promise. You can also find links to each feature in the Women in Agriculture series below. Get to know all of these fabulous ladies!