“Agriculture is my life. I don’t know anything different. I educate youth through my agriculture education program, by being a club leader in 4-H and by educating the everyday adult who asks me questions while walking through the grocery store or local department store. It has given me my passion to educate others, I truly believe in the future of agriculture.” -Misty Steeke, 2012 Country Women of the Year and 2006 North Dakota Farm Bureau Young Farmers Achievement Award winner
Misty Steeke of Rhame, North Dakota is an agriculture education teacher, FFA adviser, 4-H leader, farmer, rancher, wife to Trevor and mother to son Colbey age 16 , daughters Abbigale, age 13 and Lillian age 9 and youngest son Calvin passed away at age 4 in 2012 following a farm accident.
For a tribute to Calvin written by Misty’s brother, Nevada click here to the Keeping Calvin Close Page. Misty shared with me a letter written by a recent scholarship winner in Calvin’s name. The letter included, “My relationship with Calvin may have been a brief but the time I had getting to know and interact with him was such a special feeling to me and I know I will carry on the feeling of friendship and family the rest of my life. Getting to know him was such an awesome experience for me and I looked upon him as a little brother. The time spent with him was such a humbling experience because he would always light up the room with his presence and he was such a happy-go-lucky child. I try so hard everyday to be as eager and happy for life as he is to this day and for the rest of my life a role model and I just want to thank you so much for being part of our wrestling team and allowing the sweetest soul to enter my life. I know he’s with me every time I go on the mat now I can hear calling my name and cheering. He was such a joy in my life and I hope that someday when I have kids they will turn out just like Calvin.”
Thank you to Misty and the entire Steeke family for sharing this tribute.
Misty and I have gotten to know each other through various North Dakota agriculture organizations but primarily FFA. She asked in the winter of 2013 for me to drive to her school in Scranton, North Dakota to speak at her chapter’s FFA banquet. Finally in May 2014, I could attend. Kat Perkins, originally from Scranton and a founding FFA member, the first gold winner in their new chapter, was in the finals of The Voice. The little town was decked out with “Go Kat Go!” signs and windows painted. It was a high-energy small town to visit.
But on the inside, I was hurting. I had learned earlier that day in a doctor’s office in Bismarck, I was losing second complicated early pregnancy. I felt I didn’t have anything I could possibly share that evening in Scranton. I couldn’t possibly be a banquet speaker. Then, I thought of Misty and her husband Trevor as I drove west to Scranton. My pain was small compared to theirs from the loss of their beloved youngest son. I picked myself up and spoke in Scranton that evening. It wasn’t my best, most engaging moment of speaking but I got through it. I didn’t quit and I honestly attribute that perseverance to Misty and Trevor’s example of keeping going and not quitting. They are positive leaders, even in the midst of heart-break and devastation. They continue farming and ranching with their three children and are leading a next generation of young leaders in rural southwest North Dakota.
What is your role in agriculture today? I am an agricultural education teacher at Scranton High School in Scranton, ND. I am also a farmer/rancher, farmers daughter, mother of 4, and a ranchers wife. We live on my family farm, I am a 4th generation agriculturalist. Along with my family we own and operate a farm/ranch operation that produces beef cattle, sheep, butcher hogs, small grains including wheat, oats and barley. The beef cattle consist of 450 cows that are calved in March/April, we lamb in January and February, feed pigs for butcher from May to November and produce small grains and hay in between. We produce all the feed stuffs needed to feed and background our calves. Sheep is my passion I am currently on the board of the ND Lamb and Wool Producers Association. We raise registered Hampshire and Dorset ewes along with commercial ewes. We sell rams to other sheep producers in the fall along with 4-H and FFA lambs for club projects. My kids Colbey, Abbi and Lilli take an active role in the everyday activities.
How has agriculture shaped your life? Agriculture is my life. I don’t know anything different. I educate the youth through my ag ed program, by being a club leader in 4-H or by educating the everyday adult who asks me questions while walking through the grocery store or local department store. It has given me my passion to educate others, I truly believe in the future of agriculture.
What excites you about your community? The togetherness and feeling of belonging that people give to each other. When living in a small community one can always feel the compassion that one feels for the other. We all are working towards the same goals, God, family and agriculture.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? This is tough question for me because sometimes the social media is my downfall. So I guess I would have to say the twitter at this time, but it wasn’t long ago it was Pinterest. Also anytime I take students to FFA events there are many firsts. First time to take 31 FFA members to state convention, or the first time of traveling to Casper WY to attend a Livestock Judging camp with livestock judgers in the summer. It maybe also the first time that I teach a lesson that I don’t know much about.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? My students are my motivators in life. For example after attending the National FFA Convention this past October with 13 members, they left the session motivated to lead the chapter in new ideas. My family also inspires me, as soon as the county fair or state fair has completed they are already talking about next year, or when we finish a project at the farm they are ready to move on to making more improvements to make things easier.
Which children’s book best describes your childhood/life? Charlotte’s Web or Little House on the Prairie.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? I am not sure if I have an entire meal, but here are few of my favorites. My Grandma T’s (Elsie’s) chicken and dumplings, Grandma 2’s (Elaine’s) homemade chocolate pudding, my mom’s (Sheryl’s) Carmel candy, and a new favorite stuffed mushrooms that a student made.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? The agricultural educators from across the state. They have always been willing to share information, provide support and be there when needed. They are my extended family.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? To love what you are doing, if its being a mom, a daughter, a teacher, co-worker, and to always be passionate about whatever you are doing. If you enjoy your job it really is not work. As agriculturalists, we never look at how hard of work a job might be because we enjoy what we do.
What makes you smile? Seeing when student finally understands the meaning of life. I always tell my students “When you are 28 you will thank me, for making you work hard in life”. And it is such a revelation when they, tell you that they were inspired and thank you!
Thank you, Misty, for your lifelong commitment, love and passion for agriculture, both in education to students and in living it out on your family farm and ranch. I am inspired by your example.
Connect with all the women featured this month in the 30 Days of Women in Agriculture series below and be back daily to see new features and three more giveaway that involve cooking and baking treats and bonuses for you.