Today is North Dakota’s 125th birthday. As a fifth generation North Dakotan myself and proudly raising the sixth generation where my family set down roots before North Dakota was even a state, it’s a day to honor and celebrate.
The women of agriculture from 125 years ago in North Dakota instilled a work ethic and passion for family, food and the land that still exists and lives through many active women in agriculture today in North Dakota. One of those women is Sarah (Gustin) Heinrich. I have seen her in action and hope many young North Dakotans are watching and emulating her. As Sarah shares below, “My dad always said, “We do agriculture.” It’s not just an industry we are a part of, it’s our life.”
If you are local, you see and hear Sarah on the news, as a farm director and noon show host on KXMB in Bismarck, North Dakota. Sarah takes on the issues and highlights the importance of farms and ranches to our economy.
What Sarah is doing is vitally important I believe. If we don’t have advocates in our mainstream media, agriculture gets lost in the noise. Agriculture is not the biggest economic driver anymore in North Dakota. Like many more urban states, not everyone knows farmers and ranchers. North Dakota has changed and is evolving. We need connectors. We need agriculture advocates. Sarah Heinrich is the next generation of women in agriculture that connects, advocates and gives voice to North Dakota farms and ranches in mainstream media. I am grateful for her.
On North Dakota’s 125th Birthday, meet Sarah Heinrich, below in her own words. Sarah is called “Farm Princess” at work. She is originally is from Mandan, North Dakota and after a summer wedding and marriage now resides at Medina, North Dakota and commutes an hour one-way to her job. She is married to Richie Heinrich. Her parents Dennis and Sherry Gustin and in-laws are Gene and Tammy Heinrich.
What is your role in agriculture today? I currently serve as the Farm Broadcaster for KXMB TV in Bismarck, North Dakota. It’s a job that I love to do every day. I get to go out and tell the stories of farmers and inform the public about the challenges and struggles our industry is facing and share the exciting news when times are good. I am also an active partner in my family’s purebred cattle operation. My family ranches south of Mandan, North Dakota. My husband and I are continuing the more than 30 years of raising purebred Gelbvieh Seedstock. While raising cattle with my parents, Richie and I also raise row crops and small grains, as well as help manage the family feedlot in Medina, where we call home at the ranch.
How has agriculture shaped your life? Agriculture has made me who I am today. I love to be outside with the cattle. My past times are often spent checking cattle or driving to sales to look at other cattle we could include in our herd. Growing up on a farm and following my dad around to numerous bull sales has given me the drive to continue the ranch that I’ve always been a part of. We never spent our weekends at the lake. Some people do boating, others do hunting. My dad always said, “We do agriculture.” It’s not just an industry we are a part of, it’s our life.
I live it every day at work and every day when I come home from work, whether it’s raking hay, hauling cattle or making supper to send to the field. Activities such as 4-H, FFA and cattle showing also helped inspire me into the career I pursue today, serving as a Farm Broadcaster.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? One thing I love to do is to encourage others is to give back. I would never have had the chance to be where I am today, had it not been for 4-H and FFA. These are two programs I have a large amount of faith in when I see what they do for young people. These programs truly shape students into leaders. I love giving back to these organizations, by coaching the Mandan FFA Ag Communications Team, helping judge our local District FFA contest, or by helping at our local county fair. My mom has been a 4-H leader for nearly 40 years. And I believe in the program as much as she does. It’s one that helps build public speaking and leadership skills and I can’t think of a better way to give back. My husband is also a major source of encouragement. He volunteers for our local fire department and ambulance service; he’s coached the boys high school basketball team, serves as President of the Medina FFA Alumni and has helped coach the Medina FFA Livestock Judging Team to the National Contest. Plus, we are both active in our church. Richie is always encouraging me to give back and be involved, which I love.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?I am pretty lucky because the mentor I would pick is the one I get to chat with everyday…my dad. Dennis Gustin is an amazing rancher and cattleman. I love the cattle business and my dad is so knowledgeable in every aspect, from cattle performance to herd health to industry issues. I truly look up to this man. He’s also active in numerous community boards, church functions and in the ND and National Gelbvieh Associations. Not only is he knowledgeable about the business, he is also helpful in my reporting because he knows what issues are truly impacting ranchers. Dad and I could sit and talk for hours about issues and topics I want to report on and how I am going to go about it, because he truly cares about ranchers and farmers getting the right information they need because he is one. I’ve been following him around since I was a little girl and I couldn’t ask for a better example.
What makes you smile? Of course my husband! As well as, cows out on green grass and finding that calf in your herd that you think is going to be the “next great one.” I love when you’ve worked hard all year and you finally think you found the one that’s going make the difference in your herd or in someone else’s. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Connect with Sarah on her website, Twitter and Facebook. Thank you, Sarah, for living agriculture in North Dakota! Below are links to the introduction on why I am choosing to continue this series and the day one feature on Dairy Carrie. I will be featuring daily Women in Agriculture features for 30 Days this month and am including five surprise giveaways throughout the month. Comment, share and connect with these fabulous and unique women in agriculture!