“Growing up, I was never raised on a farm. I really didn’t even know all that agriculture entailed. I got my first taste of agriculture in middle school as I took an Intro to Ag class. I was sure that I was in the wrong spot but it turned out that God knew what He was doing. I ended up loving that class and joining FFA. I was apart of FFA throughout high school and even ended up serving as a Virginia FFA State Officer. ” Katie Lukens, Stephens City, Virginia and currently living in Sioux Center, Iowa attending Dordt College, studying Agriculture Education.
For 27 years of my life, I was Katie Lukens to the world. Kathryn Lynn Lukens actually. And then I married and became Kathryn Lynn Lukens Pinke. Or Katie Pinke to most. I wasn’t going to change my name in the way that it all happened. I was going to use both names without hyphenating, I thought. But people just thought Katie Pinke was short and cute. And I winced, not because I wasn’t proud to take my husband’s name. But because I missed a bit of my old name, Katie Lukens. I learned I wasn’t losing myself, just redefining, with a new name.
I had grown used to my new name over five years and in 2011 when I was a part of the first social media training with FFA state officers and delegates at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was then I met the present-day, Katie Lukens. She was a state officer from Virginia and at the end of our hours of training she came up to me and said, “So you are Katie Lukens, right? Because I am, too.”
Now Katie Lukens is not a common name, at all. It’s not like being Mary Smith. I will always remember Katie introducing herself to me. And through the wonders of social media we have kept in touch ever since that 2011 meeting. In learning about Katie, her name hasn’t changed but it is agriculture that redefined her and the impact of the FFA program on her as a middle school student.
Katie Lukens is a woman of agriculture with no agriculture upbringing that is currently majoring in agriculture education. She is the future of agriculture to me. We need more schools to invest in strong agriculture education programs and we need more young people like Katie Lukens willing to be agriculture educators. Our meeting was not by chance and it is not just a first name and surname that we share, Katie Lukens and I share a passion to advocate for agriculture and a passion for youth.
Katie is from Stephens City, Virginia and is currently living in Sioux Center, Iowa. I am honored for you to read from her today, in her own words.
What is your role in agriculture today? Today, my role in agriculture is a student. Right now, I am attending Dordt College in Sioux Center, IA where I am studying Agriculture Education. I also have been a FFA member for the last 6 years. As a FFA member my role in agriculture gives me the opportunity to be an advocate for the industry. Through FFA, I also have had the opportunity to work at a flower shop for four years.
How has agriculture shaped your life? Growing up, I was never raised on a farm. I really didn’t even know all that agriculture entailed. I got my first taste of agriculture in middle school as I took an Intro to Ag class. I was sure that I was in the wrong spot but it turned out that God knew what He was doing. I ended up loving that class and joining FFA. I was apart of FFA throughout high school and even ended up serving as a Virginia FFA State Officer. Through agriculture education and FFA, I have been able to step outside of my comfort zone and doing things I never though I would have done before. I have spoken in front of hundreds of people and have traveled to China to see agriculture in another country.
What excites you about your community? I am so excited for the FFA chapters in my community. They are doing awesome things to promote agriculture and build future leaders of our country.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? Lately, my life seems to be full of new experiences, from moving to a school 20 hours away from home and traveling by myself to watching a live hockey game. It has been an exciting time of life these last few months.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? I love sending people letters to encourage others. It’s fun know that I get the chance to brighten someone else’s days. I have some awesome friends who always encourage me. Even though right now we are many miles away, they are great about staying in touch and being there when I need them.
Which children’s book best describes your childhood/life? Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. If someone told me that I would go to China to learn about their agriculture or Iowa for college or Louisville, KY for National FFA Convention, I don’t think I would have believed them.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? My mom is an amazing chef; one of my favorite things she makes is Thai food. You always know it’s going to be a good meal when she makes that.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? I admire Bethany Hamilton; I love her determination, hard-working spirit, and strong faith.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? Life is so short, enjoy each moment and let others know how much they mean to you. Try new things and don’t miss opportunities you are given. Lastly, God loves you!
What makes you smile? I love spending time with my family and friends. Being around people I love, makes me smile.
Thank you, Katie Lukens, for sticking with that middle school Intro to Ag class to become a woman of agriculture, passionate advocate and future ag educator! The future is bright for women in agriculture and the agriculture education of our children is in good hands with leaders like you.
Subscribe by email to receive an update and a promise of no spam on this 30 Days of Women in Agriculture series. The response to this has been tremendously positive and I am going to continue it past November as an ongoing weekly series. Also I currently have this giveaway available through Thursday, November 14 for two winners of holiday baked goods, shipped to your door. And now you are hungry.
Earlier Women in Agriculture features this month include:
November 11: Julia Debes, Kansas Farm Girl To Washington D.C. Ag Communicator (with a Deployed Husband)
November 10: Veterinary Technician, Farmer, Rancher & Mom: Meet North Dakota’s Amanda Bader
November 9: An Immigrant for #WomenInAg: Meet Olga Reuvekamp, South Dakota Dairy Farmer
November 8: Texan Melissa Laurent, Long-Eared Humpy Calves Make Her Smile
November 7: Alicia Pedemonti, New Hampshire Pig Farmer & Working Mom
November 6: Crystal Blin, Agriculture Led Her From Alberta to Iowa
November 5: Dr. Rachel Endecott, Beef Researcher & 3rd Generation Montana Rancher
November 4: Jill Benson, 4th generation California Egg Farmer
November 3: Katie Heger, North Dakota Farmer, Teacher and Mother of 5
November 2: Kelly Rivard: Illinois Country Nights, Missouri City Lights
November 1: Introducing 30 Days of Women in Agriculture
For a listing of all the 30 Days Bloggers my friend Holly Spangler rounded up, visit here.
Crystal Cattle says
Katie, I love your story. I too moved far from home to purse my agriculture dream. I hope you enjoy your time in Iowa (I celebrated my two year anniversary this year). If you are ever on the NE side of the state look me up!