Sally Scholle always knew she wanted to be a farmer but wasn’t raised around agriculture. Today, Sally is an ag writer and photographer in addition to being a Pennsylvania farmer, a childhood dream turned into reality. She also was an “experiment” years ago at an all-boys college to be one of 30 women to attend the school. It worked out and I really view Sally as blazing a trail for many to follow her.
Sally points out below in her own words how important her father was in developing her skill set and championing her. While this series features Women in Agriculture, many of us have men who championed and encouraged us along the way, giving us new opportunities to advance in a long-time male dominated industry. As a woman of agriculture myself, I am grateful for three generations of men and women in my family, still alive today who broke down barriers, pushed me and picked me back up when I have fallen throughout my personal and professional life in agriculture. We all need those people in our lives.
Thank you to Sally Scholle for being a determined woman of agriculture, never willing to back down from achieving her dreams. Sally is originally from Horsham, Pennsylvania and now lives near Littlestown, Pennsylvania (near Gettysburg!) She has four adult children and farms with her husband, Terry. I met her four or so years ago at an Animal Agriculture Alliance meeting and we have stayed in touch. I appreciate her work ethic, passion and positive example she sets.
What is your role in agriculture today? We raise sheep, goats and big white dogs (livestock guardian dogs) on our farm. In addition, I am fortunate to work as an ag writer for several publications and write articles on (and take photos for) nearly every ag topic imaginable. The conferences and workshops I attend help keep me up-to-date about important ag issues, and also offer an opportunity to meet farmers and other ag professionals. I’m also active in our county Farm Bureau as vice-president and policy chair, and will be representing my county as a delegate at our state’s annual meeting this week, and my state in San Diego at the national meeting in January. It’s been fascinating to see the important, positive influence of Farm Bureau in my county, state and nation.
How has agriculture shaped your life? I can’t remember ever not wanting to be a farmer, so ag has definitely shaped my life. Although I wasn’t raised on a farm and had no close relatives who were involved in ag, I’ve always wanted to work with livestock. Early in high school, my dad took me to visit a small, four-year science and ag college that was close to our home, and that sealed it for me. I wrote to the college (no email then!) to ask about applying; they replied that they were sorry to inform me that Delaware Valley College was a men’s school. Wow. I didn’t really have a back-up plan, so I was thrilled when I later received a letter from the college stating that they were now accepting women and would be pleased to have my application. I was one of about 30 women in an all-men’s school – we were somewhat of an experiment that has been a positive change for the college.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? My source of encouragement has always been my dad, who (thankfully) realized that despite our non-farm background, his daughter was determined to be a farmer. A writer himself, he encouraged and helped me learn to write effectively, and I use my maiden name as a byline to honor him. I started a blog over a year ago, but haven’t kept it up due to having severe wrist pain. I recently had joint replacement (like knee or hip) in my wrist and plan to jump-start my blog to continue to convey the truth about American agriculture and encourage others to do the same.
Which children’s book best describes your childhood/life? When I was in grade school, my grandmother gave me a book entitled ‘Ten Big Farms’ by Dahlov Ipcar. I nearly wore that book out, reading over and over again about how a family was looking for just the right farm and how they finally found it. So although I wasn’t the child in that book, I imagined that I was, and eventually made that dream come true. I still have the book on my office shelf as a reminder of having a dream and making it come true. Hey, there’s an idea for a blog post!
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? Roast chicken – one good-sized bird lasts us four or five meals, none of which are the same.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? I would encourage people, whether or not they are involved in ag, to look at the importance of agriculture in our nation and realize that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ method of farming. I believe that this can be done without creating division if we choose our words carefully but without shame. If we use strong, effective messages without apologies, I believe we can help people to become more open-minded and spread positive messages about agriculture.
Connect with all the women featured this month in the 30 Days of Women in Agriculture series below and be on the lookout for a new giveaway among the features early this week that will be helpful in holiday cooking! It’s big and exciting, folks. Get ready!