FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz: Blog en-us (C) FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) Tue, 14 Jul 2015 13:52:00 GMT Tue, 14 Jul 2015 13:52:00 GMT FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz: Blog 120 93 Future FarmHer Around the World | Shannon Hoyle Where did you travel to?

Nine other students and I traveled to Rio de Janeiro and Lucas Do Rio Verge, Brazil for a Business Development Travel Course through the Iowa State University Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative. We were helping an Iowa based company to see if it was feasible to expand their operation into Brazil.

What's your background in agriculture?

Although I did not grow up on a farm, agriculture has always been an important part of my life. I showed cattle through 4-H, and was always bugging my uncle and family friends to get out of the house and go to their farm. I am now going into my senior year at Iowa State University majoring in Public Service and Administration in Agriculture with a minor in Entrepreneurial Studies.

What is the most interesting agriculture industry you saw on your trip?

Lucas Do Rio Verge, Brazil is located in the state of Mato Grosso. Mato Grosso is comparable to the United State’s Midwest. Much of this state is very rural and a lot of towns were established because of very large farms outside of the towns. These large farms are required by the government to provide housing for the workers and their families. Some even have schools, soccer fields, and areas for families to hang out. The workers and their families are fed right on the farm with much of the produce coming from a large garden.

Why are you a FarmHer and what does agriculture mean to you?

I am a FarmHer because I am actively trying to make my mark in the ever-changing agriculture industry. I am constantly soaking up and experiencing all that Iowa State University, my professors, and my peers can teach me, so when I graduate, I can go out into the world prepared to agvocate and positively contribute to the agriculture sector. Agriculture, is indeed a passion and a way of life, but is also an area with a lot of opportunities – especially for young people.

Shannon Hoyle in BrazilShannon Hoyle in Brazil next to corn

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) FarmHer Future travel Wed, 08 Jul 2015 22:46:19 GMT
Future FarmHer Around the World | Logan Worden Where are you traveling? 

The bottom of the world, aka Antarctica 

What’s your background in agriculture? 

I grew up on my family's dairy farm in Northeast Iowa, where I developed a strong passion for all things agricultural oriented. I was fortunate enough to be involved in great FFA and 4-H programs, which helped lead me to Iowa State University to pursue a degree in Agricultural Communications. 

What is the most interesting agriculture industry you have seen on your trip?  

This trip was focused on non-traditional agriculture since we traveled to a more desolate place because of the climate. Being able to witness penguins, seals and whales in their natural habitat is indescribable. The scenery down there is so extremely beautiful and I hope to go back one day. 

Why are you a FarmHer and what does agriculture mean to you? 

To me, agriculture is the backbone of our country and the future of where we are going. Being part of this ride is the only place that I want to be and being a FarmHer makes it even sweeter because of how farm women have come in this industry. 

What are some of the similarities you seen amongst women in ag around the globe? 

All the ladies that I have seen are extremely hard working in all of their crafts, whether that be taking care of the land, animals or their families. 

Logan Worden in Antartica Logan Worden in Antartica with penguins

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) Around FarmHer Future World the travel Wed, 08 Jul 2015 22:42:12 GMT
Future FarmHer Around the World | Caitlyn Brandt Where are you traveling? 

I traveled to Hong Kong and Guangzhou, Xi'an, and Beijing in mainland China for two weeks with a group of SDSU students and professors. 

What's your background in agriculture?

I grew up on a diversified farm in South Dakota. We raise pigs, cattle, corn, beans, and some wheat and alfalfa. Up until a few years ago we had a farrow-to-finish hog operation. Now, we custom finish pigs for the sow farm my family has shares in. 

Before starting at SDSU, I thought I was going to be a teacher. And although I was involved in 4-H and showed pigs and sheep, I never really though of agriculture as a career. But midway through my first semester, I missed the farm and everything that came with it. It was definitely one of my best decisions I've made. 

What is the most interesting agriculture industry you've seen on your trip?

The United States and China are very dependent on each other, yet their culture, lifestyle and agricultural practices are vastly different. In China, their crop farms are extremely small, 1/6 of an acre small, and the majority of all work is still done by hand. Even with small farms and limited access to machinery, China ranks number one in the world in both corn and pig production. 

We visited a fish farm, a large beef feedlot, a dairy processing plant, a soybean crushing facility, a fruit and vegetable market, a fish market, a meat market and a local FarmHer along with other agribusinesses. 

I really liked visiting with the local FarmHer. While her husband works construction in the city and both her son and daughter work in the city, she takes care of their 3/4 of an acre of farmland. On her farm, she grew wheat, corn, cherries and walnuts. She does use some machinery, but not like the machinery used in the US. In China, the machinery is small like four row planters and three row combines. 

I am extremely grateful for the experiences I had in China. However, I am glad that I live in the US and the Midwest. 

Why are you a FarmHer and what does agriculture mean to you? 

I am a FarmHer, not only because it's in blood but because it's my passion. I want to share my passion for agriculture with those that don't live on the farm and don't understand the importance of agriculture in their daily lives.

Brandt in China

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) FarmHer Future agriculture travel Wed, 08 Jul 2015 22:37:29 GMT
Future FarmHer Around the World | Stephanie McMillian & Kendra Kehrli Stephanie and Kendra were both in Europe and share their story: 

Stephanie McMillian:

Where are you traveling?

I traveled to Sweden for a four week study abroad. 

What is your background in agriculture?

I grew up on an acreage on the edge of town.  My dad is a veterinarian and I was active in 4-H and FFA.  Participating in the World Food Prize solidified my plans to go into agriculture.  

What is the most interesting agriculture industry you have seen on your trip?

The most interesting industry was the canola fields in full bloom.  They were a beautiful vibrant yellow.  

Why are you a FarmHer and what does agriculture mean to you? 

I am a FarmHer because I want to change the public's perception on agriculture.  I want consumers to be knowledgeable about where their food come from and how it is produced.  Agriculture to me means a network of people working together in various ways to feed the world.  

  Stephanie McMillian in Sweeden

Kendra Kehrli:

Where did you travel?

I was in a 4-week program with 15 other students; we traveled to Poland, Lithuania, and Czech Republic.

What's your background in agriculture?

I live on a farrow to finish hog farm; but we also are very diversified from chickens, rabbits, sheep, calves, a pony, and even a donkey. I have also been actively involved in 4-H and FFA for countless years, and I served as the 2013 Iowa Pork Princess. 

What is the most interesting agriculture industry you saw on your trip?

The most interesting agriculture industry I saw on my trip was an Apply Orchard Farm. It was family owned and produced millions of pounds of apples per year; we started the tour of the farm at the apple nursery farm, then to the apple farm, to the picking equipment, to the apple sorting building, and finally to the boxing and warehouse stage. It was quite and experience!

Why are you a FarmHer and what does agriculture mean to you?

I am a FarmHer because my ultimate goal is to fill the disconnect that stands between consumer and farmer. Agriculture is and will always be an important role in my life; this is a place where opportunities are endless, and where I will be able grow both in my personal life and professional career.

Kendra's group in Eurpoe

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) FarmHer agriculture farmher future travel women Wed, 08 Jul 2015 22:33:52 GMT
Future FarmHer Around the World | Bay Boysen Where did you travel to? 

I am interning with the Earth Program through Iowa State University in St. John U.S. Virgin Island, located in the Caribbean Sea. As an intern, I am teaching children about sustainable agriculture in the Gifft High School (GHS). My focus is on teaching food production, plant-based environmental sciences, and advocating for agriculture. I am providing healthy,
locally grown food to the GHS community while using outdoor environments for students to learn and work to better their agricultural skills.

What's your background in agriculture?

I am a fifth generation farmer who grew up on a diversified family farm outside of Columbus Jct., Iowa. We raise hogs, cattle, sheep, and grain.

What is the most interesting agriculture industry you have seen on your trip?

Background: St John's main industry is tourism, the steep mountain slopes are not very good for cultivation. Therefore, agriculture practices are done on a much smaller scale.  One of my favorite examples of this a local produce farm called
Josephine's Greens. Josephine (a great example of a FarmHer) (Great photo of Josephine on this website:
( moved to St. John from Malaysia in the mid 80's where she managed large plantations.  Currently, they grow over 90 varieties of vegetables, tropical fruits, and herbs on their 18 acres.  Josephine's Greens have become a staple in local markets and are in demand from top restaurant chefs who place their order months in advance. In addition to produce, they also supply much of the island's landscaping needs with tropical plants, trees and flowers.

Why are you a FarmHer and what does agriculture mean to you?

I am a woman who has been active in the agriculture industry since I was able to pick up a scoop shovel and check cows with Grandpa. I want to continue our farming family tradition and give my children the same experiences and opportunities I had by getting my hands dirty in the field. My degree in horticulture has given me a better understanding of food production to feed our growing population. I love to advocate for this wonderful industry and showing the many beautiful aspects of a FarmHer.

Bay Boysen in the USVIBay Boysen in the USVI


]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) ag farm farmher future her teach travel Wed, 08 Jul 2015 22:24:34 GMT
Future FarmHer Around the World | Abrah Meyer Where did you travel to?

South Africa

What's your background in agriculture?

I grew up outside of a small town in Northeast Iowa, where my family farms row crop—corn and soybeans. My involvement in agriculture, however, truly began when I became active in my FFA chapter in high school. From there, I gained insight about the industry and decided that it was the career path I wanted to pursue.

What is the most interesting agriculture industry you saw on your trip?

While in South Africa, we saw a vast array of agriculture. In fact I was surprised by how much the country looked like home or, at least, the Midwest. I enjoyed learning about the indigenous Bonsmara cattle breed, meeting with the largest Boer goat farmer in the world, seeing acres upon acres of vegetables being grown like typical row crops, as finding out the specialty of crocodile farming. Add that to touring a grain elevator and walking some of the white maize (corn) fields.

The most interesting agricultural industry I saw on the trip, however, was the grape industry. In Western South Africa near Cape Town, there is a large presence of grape farming, whether it be fermenting for wine or growing for table grapes. On one of our last days in the country, we took a tour of “SATGI” or South Africa Table Grape Industry. There we were able to walk through the vineyards, washing and packing rooms, and cooling facilities. If that wasn’t enough, we were able to enjoy some of the freshly picked grapes at the farm. I’ve never tasted a grape so sweet! All in all, every facet of the agricultural industry represented in South Africa left a lasting impression that makes me want to return as soon as I can.

Why are you a FarmHer and what does agriculture mean to you?

If you had asked me what my careers goals were as a freshman in high school, I would have responded by telling you, “Well, I plan to go to medical school and become a pediatrician.” Despite growing up on a farm, I had no intentions of returning to the agricultural industry. Yet, through my experience in FFA and opportunity to learn more about the industry, my passion for agriculture became incredibly strong.

I am and will forever be a FarmHer because I know that I can serve others through any occupation I take on in agriculture. While we were in South Africa, one of the executives at Senwes (a South African grain link company) said this: “Success without service to others is meaningless.” I completely agree with this statement and thoroughly believe that we have been placed on Earth for a specific purpose—to serve others. Agriculture allows us to do so as we grow the food, protect the environment, stabilize the economy, and feed the world.  Agriculture will always be a foundation of our livelihood, seeing that it is our source of food, shelter, clothing, fuel, and more. I am committed to serving others and providing them with the livelihood they enjoy.

Abrah Meyer in AfricaAbrah Meyer in Africa


]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) Africa FarmHer Farmher Future Travel Wed, 08 Jul 2015 22:13:38 GMT
Two EntreprenHERs at Entrefest Marji's Takeaway As A Small Business Owner

About a month ago I received an email from the internship coordinator at Iowa State (where the FarmHer intern, Lexi, works through) inviting her and I to attend EntreFest.  I had to look it up to see what it even was; a three day long conference/event/festival for entrepreneurs.  My first thought was, “I don’t have time.” Then I stopped.  Sure, “I don’t have time to get the 10,000 things done that I need to do each day, but I never take the opportunity to network with other small business owners and this might be just the push I need to reinvigorate me to get through these very busy and hectic summer months.  So, Lexi and I circled the wagons and decided we could find one day to go.  With just a two hour drive to get there and about a million opportunities to learn once we were there, why not?!  We arrived first thing in the morning, pens and paper in hand, ready to absorb the day.  First up was a three hour, yes THREE HOUR long workshop about the recipe for business success.  Honestly, while the fundamentals were good I felt like I was in business 101 and struggled to pay attention to the speaker.  By the end of the session I had completed some of my own to-do lists and also left with a few thoughts on what I could do to better focus my efforts in the area of business planning.  On to lunch where we met the women who run the Ag Entrepreneurship Initiative through Iowa State University.  This is the program that I found Lexi through and is a really great way for students who think they want to run their own business to get a first hand look at what that means (right now, to me, it just means working ALL of the time as I write this at 11:00 at night).  Then it was on to the opening keynote of the conference featuring Ben Milne, founder of Dwolla.  It was refreshing to listen to him talk about his journey of building Dwolla.  One of my favorite things he said was “don’t forget what you stand for.”  While simple and obvious, it is a reminder that we all need from time to time.  It was a far better message for me in just 30 minutes of listening to his very plain, very real talk - you need a passion for what you do (check), a drive to see it through (check, most of the time) and plain old hard and smart work (check, I think).

Marji in the first sessionMarji in the first session at EntreFest

From there Lexi and I took a break from the next time slot of sessions to gather our thoughts and touch base on the day so far.  Maybe it was the entrepreneurial spirit of the day, the fact that we were out of our offices and in an invigorating environment, or maybe just the stars aligned, but as we sat and talked we came up with one heck of an exciting plan for FarmHer.  Earlier this year Lexi had applied for and received a scholarship through 4-H.  To win the scholarship she had to formulate an innovative idea.  Her idea was to bring together a group of young women in agriculture to connect them with successful women in ag - farmers, ranchers, professionals, etc.  What she didn’t know when she sparked the thought was that is something I have been toying with in my head for months.  For the past two years I have attended a wonderful event for young women in ag in Illinois.  A day-long event filled with learning, encouragement, networking and some fun too.  I have loved my time spent at the Illinois event, sharing FarmHer with these inspiring young women, and really feel that Iowa could use something along the same lines.  Heck, every state and country around the world could use this!    So, we let our thoughts crash together and came up with the plan for our first annual Future FarmHer event.  It will be a day-long event held in central Iowa later this fall exclusively for young women in agriculture.  A place where they can connect, learn, ignite their passion for agriculture and a place where they can celebrate being a woman in the field of ag.  

Last up for the day we attended a session about Women-to-Women Peer Advisory Boards.  I wasn’t sure what we were in for but figured the subject matter was right on so it was worth a try.   Good call by us as it was the best session of the day!  Kim Vogel, an entrepreneur from Cedar Rapids started this idea of small groups of like-minded women that join together to help each other through the trials and tribulations of owning and operating a small or start-up business.  Her idea is based on the fact that, while there are plenty of groups for business owners or entrepreneurs, most women don’t attend those.  I have to say, in my experience she is right.  First off, I have a hard time considering myself an entrepreneur.  Sure, I run a small business but it was just the result of doing something I love and finding a way to keep it going.  If I ever start to think I might attend a networking group I talk myself right back out of it.  I fear that I would be one of the only women there, and that most of the people would look at my business model like it is a joke.  Whether that is the reality or not, it is what goes through my mind so I end up not participating.  I work mostly by myself and have very few trusted advisors or mentors that don’t stand to make money off of what I do (though I am working on growing that list).  I bounce ideas off of my husband daily and while he supports me with FarmHer, he doesn’t want to live it 24/7 like I do.  According to Kim, most women business owners find themselves in the same situation as me (who knew!).  I am a woman working on my own, working a LOT and struggling to find ways to make the business stable.  I am a woman trying to balance a family with the constant needs of a growing business.  I am a woman new to this business ownership game.  All of these things are what caused Kim to form the first peer-to-peer advisory board.  A small group of 6-8 women who are non-competitive, agree to confidentiality, who meet on a regular basis to provide feedback, support, ideas, connections and accountability to goals.  A place to go with all of the things that you have nowhere else to turn.  As you might imagine I was ALL over this idea and have already met with the Director of our local Small Business Development Center to see about forming a group like this in central Iowa.

All in all the day was inspiring and refreshing.  It provided a much needed break from the daily grind of too much to do (trust me, it was all waiting patiently for me at home). It provided us an invigorating environment to brainstorm and we came out on the other side with an idea, plan and budget to make something really cool happen!  Stay tuned for more on the First Annual Future FarmHer Event!

Lexi's Top 5 Lessons Learned As Future Entrepreneur:

1) Use Your Head
After the three hour session Marji and I sat in at the beginning of the day, I honestly wondered what we were doing there.  Perk of the session, we got a free book!  I don't think I'll ever read it again, but it will remind me whenever I have a crazy idea, is to use my head.  Do not start a business without doing research and do not fully invest without having a plan.  It's a no brainer, but pretty important.  95% of the pattens submitted will never make money.  Don't be in that 95%.

2) Talk to Others
I'm a talker.  I always have been and I've learned that even if my voice goes horse, I still talk.  By collaborating with Marji, my AgEI advisors, and other attendees, I was able to develop great ideas and add to the vision for FarmHer.

3) Close Your Mouth and Listen
Along with talking to people, I also listened to others.  By listening, other people's ideas pushed me to expand my own.  I also realized that over half the people there have an idea to develop an app, but when I think about my life, I will never buy an app.  Note to self: do not develop an app.  

4) Talk Advantage of Opportunities
If Marji hadn't encouraged me to go, I would've missed out on great learning lessons and networking opportunities.  Everyone needs a reminder to not just walk out of their comfort zone, but every once in awhile you have to run.

5) Do Your Dreams
Usually people say "follow your dreams" but I believe instead of just following your dreams, you should do them.  This conference made me want to take action and not just follow what I want to do, but make it happen.  

Lexi and Marji at EntreFestLexi and Marji at EntreFest in the Women Advisory Board Session

Thank you EntreFest for the photos.  Click here for the EntreFest Facebook page. 

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) EntreprenHers conferences entrepreneurs innovation iowa learn network women Thu, 18 Jun 2015 11:00:00 GMT
FarmHer June Spotlight | Barbara Mazurek Barbara Mazurek from Tarpley, Texas is a real-deal RanchHer.  She grew up in a ranching family and the eldest daughter she took over the ranch and became a RanchHer.  At age 78, she works full-time on the two properties that make up the Mazurek Family Ranch.  At the ranch, Barbara raises Boer goats for meat, angora goats for mohair, as well as cattle. Barbara is the main RanchHer with occasional from her children, grandchildren and part-time hired help.

On the day I photographed at the ranch, four wool shearers had arrived to shear the large herd of angora goats while Barbara and her family were sorting and moving the livestock, grading the mohair and administering immunizations.  There were also new puppies on the ranch, born from one of the seven ranch dogs.  As we all know, Barbara’s job didn’t end in the shearing shed; not only does this 78-year-old woman take care of the ranch and it’s animals, she also ran the shearing day and cooked a fabulous Texas-style meal for the help. 

In the few hours I spent with Barbara it became clear why she is an icon to her family but also her community.  She is a strong, smart woman who had the strength to continue in agriculture after her husband died 21 years ago in a farming accident.  She’s not only a retired teacher and coach, but still is active in the community, serving as the President of the Bandera County Farm Bureau and volunteering her time for numerous ag-related programs and events.

Meeting and spending some time watching and photographing Barbara was the highlight of my winter trip to Texas.  Experiencing the beautiful work she does on her ranch and capturing that beauty through these photographs was an honor and I’m proud to feature such an amazing women as our FarmHer spotlight.   Barbara MazurekBarbara Mazurek on the ranch

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) Farmher Texas goats newsletter ranch ranchher spotlight women Mon, 15 Jun 2015 18:00:00 GMT
FarmHer Advice | Krysta Harden Each month, FarmHer is going to highlight an exceptional woman in agriculture and share advice that they have learned through their experiences. 

This month FarmHer recognizes one of our favorite FarmHer’s, Krysta Harden.  Krysta is the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture for the United States Department of Agriculture and is an advocate for women everywhere.  I had the honor to hear Krysta speak while she visited Iowa this past spring.  She also played a huge role in bringing FarmHer to the USDA in Washington DC on National Ag Day in April.  We are honored to have Krysta be featured in our FarmHer advice column.

Krysta quotes, “Women make great (farmers and ranchers) because they use their passions to get results, are great at multi-tasking and are used to working hard with little sleep.”

FarmHer in Washington DC, meeting with Deputy Secretary Harden and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Read more on Deputy Harden from the USDA page

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) DC USDA Washington advice agriculture farmher photography policy travel women Thu, 11 Jun 2015 04:10:18 GMT
FarmHer May Spotlight | Laura Rowe Laura and Tanner Rowe along with their three young children raise beef cattle, row crops and horses at their family farm in central Iowa.   On the early summer evening that I visited the Rowe Farm, where Laura had just gotten home from her full-time off the farm job where she works for a large agribusiness.  On the agenda that evening was feeding the horses and a bottle calf, followed by a riding lesson.  Laura grew up riding horses and is passing that love of riding down to her children, Cecilia (8), Benton (7), and Adeline (5).   

When I first arrived, before the photographing started, I had the pleasure of having the three kids show me the treehouse their dad was working on for them.  The excitement in their faces was catching and I couldn’t wait to see what these lively kids had in store for the rest of the evening.  Next, I followed and photographed as Laura and the girls made their way to the barn and the girls mixed up the feed for their horses.  We then walked down through the pasture to find the horses and gather them up for the girls evening riding lesson. 

Rowe FarmHersRowe FarmHers

Along the way we took a walk past the cattle and back up to the house so Laura and the girls could mix a bottle of formula for one of their bottle calves.  After the calf was fed, it was time for the riding lessons.  At the start of the lesson the entire family worked to prepare the horses - from brushing to saddling them, the kids did it all alongside their parents. 
The girls then led their horses to a pasture with a fenced off area for a riding arena.  Adeline, 5 worked on walking her horse around the ring before getting on for a ride.  Cecilia, 8 worked outside of the ring with her mother carefully watching and guiding her daughter in the lesson. Being on the Rowe family's farm on what seemed to be a perfect summer night was a once in a lifetime chance for me.  It was the chance to watch a mother pass a love of hers down to her daughters.  The Rowe farm consists of love for agriculture, country life, horses and family.

Visit all of the images in the FarmHer gallery here.

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) family farm farmher future mother spotlight Mon, 18 May 2015 19:06:36 GMT
Animal Day | Elementary Style Blog written by Lexi Marek, FarmHer Intern

Growing up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in Southeast Iowa, I quickly developed a passion for agriculture.  I’m very excited to be working as FarmHer’s communications intern to continue my passion for agriculture while empowering and promoting women! 

As a student at Iowa State University, my major is Public Service and Administration in Agriculture with a double major in Journalism and Mass Communications.  I grew up showing pigs and my family raises pigs, as well as cattle.  My three sisters and I are involved on my family’s farm and enjoy advocating for agriculture while learning about various agriculture industries. 

One of my first days working for FarmHer, I had the opportunity to attend an Animal Learning Day hosted by the local FFA chapter at the elementary school.   Six kindergarten classes at Stewart Elementary in Washington, Iowa, had the opportunity to meet farm animals, including: pigs, goats, kittens, puppies, a chicken, a duck, and a lamb. 

Stewart Animal DayStewart Animal Day

As I photographed about 120 six-year-olds, I watched them smile when they saw the animals.  I was reminded how important agriculture is to everyone, not just people who are directly involved in the industry.  Most of these students had never seen a farm animal, and this may be one of the few opportunities they have to hold a farm animal, especially a chicken. 

A special FarmHer in my life, my sister, showed me how the simple action of setting up an event in a local community can give the opportunity to share the passion of agriculture.  My sister contacted a kindergarten teacher and impacted 120 students while sharing her passion with agriculture.  She organized FFA members who shared the animals they have on their farm.  The FFA members may not have been in the classroom at the time, but they learned how to interact with young students and how to communicate about their animals.  They also gained great stories about the kindergarteners, which lead to a few laughs.  One little boy was petting the puppy, and then decided he would rather pet my sister instead. 

Animal Day with Stewart Elementary was a great experience for everyone involved, from the kindergarteners to the FFA members who shared their interest in agriculture.  I encourage you to do something to share your passion and to share the values of a FarmHer.  

Animal Day- pigAnimal Day- pig

Click here to see more photos from Animal Day 

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) agriculture education kids photography Fri, 15 May 2015 19:57:06 GMT
FarmHer April Spotlight | Brenda Codney Brenda Codney was photographed late in 2014 for FarmHer in partnership with Easter Seals Iowa.  As it is our goal at FarmHer to show women in all types and varieties of agriculture, from all backgrounds and facing life in different ways, we jumped at the opportunity to include Brenda in our FarmHer collection.  Brenda is not only a veteran and also a participant in Easter Seal's Rural Services program.  

Brenda says she practically grew up on her aunt’s farm in Pennsylvania and when she married her husband Walter, he enjoyed rural life too. A year after they were married, Brenda and Walter joined the US Air Force. Brenda served for 22 years as a medic and then paralegal. She retired in 2005 as the Law Office Manager at Offutt Air Force Base, in Nebraska.
As Brenda was preparing to retire, she and Walter moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Walter talked her into embracing the rural life they both grew up enjoying. Brenda said, “We can do it, as long as I don’t have to milk anything!”  Walter and Brenda decided to sell organic, free range eggs by starting a poultry farm. They raise a variety of chickens, guinea hens, quails, pheasants, and turkeys.
Brenda and Walter both enjoy the opportunity to give back by donating eggs to local food pantries, homeless shelters, and airmen Walter works with. Brenda also enjoys the time spent with her grandchildren on the farm. “They love going out to feed the chickens and help me gather eggs. They also love to eat eggs! ” Brenda says. 

During her years of service as an Air Force medic and paralegal, Brenda acquired disabilities that made it difficult to easily move about her home. Easter Seals Iowa worked with the Veterans Administration Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services to make accommodations to Brenda’s home, making it easier for her to live in.  A lift at the front door and modifications to the steps make entering and exiting the home possible. 
Brenda’s washer and dryer were located on the lower level of the home and the steep stairs to the basement were difficult for Brenda to manage. Now an added utility room provides a washer and dryer on the main level of the home and the main level is accessible by a new circle driveway. 
“Before these accommodations to my home it was difficult for me to perform the most basic of life’s functions because of my disabilities.  These modifications allowed me to function as a wife, a mother, grandmother again, and made it possible for me to get out of the house and take part in the community again.” Brenda says. 

Visit all of the images in the FarmHer gallery here.

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) farmher spotlight Wed, 15 Apr 2015 19:30:00 GMT
FarmHer March Spotlight | National Ag Week These images were shared over the week of National Ag Day 2015.

National Ag Week 2015National Ag Week 2015

Carol Ann Sayle checks a seedling in the greenhouse at Boggy Creek urban farm in Austin, Texas, and finally. 


National Ag Week 2015National Ag Week 2015

Nicole Duesterhaus lifts a bale of hay on her family's diversified crop and livestock farm in Illinois.


National Ag Week 2015National Ag Week 2015

 A view of the entrance to Barbara Mazurek's ranch in Texas hill country. 


National Ag Week 2015National Ag Week 2015

Emily Washington smiles for the camera while moving her FFA project cow into the Iowa State Fair.


National Ag Week 2015National Ag Week 2015

LaVon Griffieon and daughter; Autumn Ogden move a temporary fence as they work with their herd of sheep in central Iowa. 


Happy National Ag Week!

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) Ag FarmHer National Spotlight Week Wed, 11 Mar 2015 19:45:00 GMT
FFA and the Future FarmHers of America (Straight From A Future FarmHer) by Lexi Marek, FarmHer Intern and Iowa State University Student 

Reposted with permission from Beyond the Barn

I believe in the future of agriculture.  I also believe in the future of women in agriculture.  Women operate over 30% of farms in the United States, and this number is on the rise.  Women are grateful for organizations like FFA that support and encourage every member to strive to be the best.

In 1969, women gained membership through the National FFA and have made great strides in agriculture ever since.  Today, women make up more than 45% of membership and roughly half of the state leadership positions.  Since 1969, women have had increasing involvement in the agriculture industry, thanks to organizations like the FFA. 

I’d like to share a few ways FFA helps members in general, but specifically women to become Future FarmHers of America.

1)   FFA strengthens communication skills.   

The FFA offers numerous competitive competitions that give experience and guidance to members in order for them to become better communicators.  These skills continue in the classroom and in the workplace, and learning how to share your knowledge is essential in becoming successful.

2)   FFA builds confidence and self worth.

Nothing builds confidence like having a bright light spotlighting you on a large stage in front of hundreds of people after you are recognized for a job well done.  Or receiving a handshake from a judge after you worked for many months preparing a project to be exhibited.  With achievement comes confidence.  When members reach established goals, they develop self-responsibility and are proud of the work they put in. 

3)   FFA gives disappointments, which leads to realization and work ethic. 

Not everyone can excel at everything, and FFA allows members to try various things to realize your talents.  This lesson can relate to anything is life.  The key to success is doing what you love, and FFA assists in finding passion.   Disappointments can also lead to developing drive and work ethic, because nothing makes you work harder than the want to do better.

4)   FFA encourages education, but friendships and memories as well.

Each activity that is held within FFA allows members to learn something.  Not only is FFA taught in a classroom, but also a lot of the education is through Supervised Agriculture Experiences and Career Development Events.  Conferences are also held and allow students to gain knowledge in a fun environment.  At these events, life long friendships begin and millions of memories are made. 

As we conclude the celebration of FFA week, we also thank the organization for positively impacting millions of students, current and alum, over the years.  May the advancements continue, the education endure, and the memories increase.  Happy National FFA Week!  












]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) America FFA FarmHers Future Women agriculture farmher in of photography women Fri, 27 Feb 2015 03:28:02 GMT
FarmHer February Spotlight | Joan Ruskamp As part of my travels to and for the Ag-Ceptional Women’s Conference in Norfolk, Nebraska, last fall I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing quite a few Nebraksa FarmHers.  One of those women was Joan Ruskamp. I arrived to the feedlot that Joan owns and operates with her husband Steve near the small town of Dodge, Nebraska, on a crisp early fall morning.  We had barely said our hellos when her two way radio lit up, notifying them about a few calves that had gotten out of a pen.  Joan took off on her new “horse” (4-wheeler) along with Steve and before I could even snap a picture they had the little guys rounded up and back in the pen, safe and sound.  I followed Joan back down the hill to their office where she told me the agenda for her morning.  

She started running her regular, early morning cattle checks, walking slowly along the large enclosures full of cattle, all pushing forward to get a peek of her and hear her soothing words.  As she walked along the edge of that first pen, the sun was just rising over a distant hill, casting a beautiful golden glow over the cattle.  She moved slowly but steadily and took everything in with a carefully trained eye, making sure no cow had gotten sick or injured during the night.  She talked to them in a soft, melodic voice, “hey boys, good morning boys” over and over as she walked the expanse of the large lot.  From there she repeated the same checks in other pens, carefully checking the cattle they keep.  

Following the cattle checks, I accompanied Joan to a separate area of the farm, designated for sick or injured cattle.  There she checked each cow and gave them some fresh hay.  Next Joan showed me the medical barn, where they treat cattle who are in need of care.  Smiling, Joan explained the system she designed to keep the cattle calm and comfortable, based on the teachings of Dr. Temple Grandin.  It is clear that this FarmHer’s strength is in how she cares for the cattle; a trait that shows through in her everyday work.  

Visit all of the images in the FarmHer gallery here.

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) business farmher owner spotlight Thu, 19 Feb 2015 20:45:00 GMT
FarmHer January Spotlight | Rachel Asher On my way to the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture event in Quincy, Illinois last winter I made a few #FarmHer stops, one of which was to meet Rachel Asher of Asher Family Farms.  Upon walking into the old farmhouse that she shares with her husband, she told me that they had a calf living in the basement.  This particular trip was in the thick of calving season in southern Illinois and having a calf in the basement is no surprise during this time of the year.  The calf's mother wasn’t producing enough milk and they had to move it into the warm house and bottle-feed it to keep it alive.  Rachel mixed up the milk replacer and showed me down the narrow stairs into the dimly lit basement.  The calf perked up at the sight of the bottle and by the end of the feeding session was up and out of the box it had been laying in.  Rachel then let her dog into the basement to show me what good friends the two had become and sure enough, the like-sized buddies romped around the basement as if they had been friends forever.

Visit all of the images in the FarmHer gallery here.

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) agriculture farmher spotlight winter Tue, 20 Jan 2015 20:45:00 GMT
A Life of Love and Chaos A good friend and former photography professor of mine, Dr. Bill Schaefer and his wife Diane, recently asked me to be a part of a photography project they are working on called Just Gals.  In it they are featuring a number of women in an environment that is telling of their life.  In thinking about how he could photograph my life we came up with a few ideas.  First, he tried taking a picture of me, taking a picture of a FarmHer.  Though they turned out fine, it wasn’t quite on the spot.  Sure I spend some of my time photographing but the majority of my working time is spent in my home office.  In this little FarmHer room tucked away in my basement I edit photos, work on the website, write, email, talk on the phone, Skype, do design work and more.  We decided this was the perfect place to photograph me in my element for his Just Gals.  

In thinking about what to photograph in my office there are all of the normal office-y things but we decided to focus on the “and more” that I mentioned above.  You see, a little over two years ago I left a big corporate career.  I left a big paycheck, frequent travel to great places and the opportunity to stay in beautiful hotels. I left the stability of knowing what I was going to be doing every day.  I left the sanity and sadness of leaving my then 1 and 3 year old with a sitter for 50+ hours a week.  I left all of these seemingly good things so I could first and foremost spend more time with my kids.  They grow up too fast and after the birth of my second child that weighed heavily on me.  I wanted to spend more time with them.  I wanted to get to know them better.  I wanted to dig in and deal with the dirty, gritty, magical everyday life.  I wanted to clean my own house (and show them how to do it).  Heck, I even wanted to pick up my dog’s poop in the backyard (one of the many services we were paying for with two incomes and two demanding jobs).  I know, I know, I’m crazy.  

The second reason I left was because I was done with that career.  I didn’t enjoy what I was doing.  I knew I could do something more, something better.  Don’t get me wrong, crop insurance is important but I was in a risk management rut at it was time to jump out.  Now I know that I left in search of FarmHer, and thankfully I found it.

Now I spend my days in a whirlwind of kids, home and FarmHer.  My husband and I work together to get the kids up and out the door in the mornings.  My oldest is in Kindergarten so she spends most of her time at school now and I am lucky enough to get to drop her at the school door every day.  My youngest is in part-time preschool.  The times he is at school are my focused working hours.  Yes, I get NINE focused working hours a week to spend on FarmHer which could take 90 hours a week if I had it.  On top of those NINE daytime hours, which are I usually reserve for phone calls or meetings, I also work nearly every night for at least a few hours after they go to bed.  All of the in between is still spent working in a less focused way (in comes my trust iPhone).  So, with such limited “focused” hours I work with lists and don’t waste a minute.  Once I pick up the kids it is errand time.  If I have to go to the post office, they go.  If I have to go to the office store, they go.  If I have to hang up photographs or meet with someone, they go.  In the time spent at home with the kids I try to balance time in my office, while they play or sometimes watch too much TV in the basement, with time spent focusing on them.  We paint, we go to the zoo, we play in the backyard on the slip and slide or swings, we ride bikes.  The less focused time spent in my office is with the door open and kids playing near me.  I break up fights, I kiss hurt toes, I work around toys, snacks get smashed on the floor under my desk, important papers get torn or drawn on and sometimes the kiddos sneak up to my computer and start typing away and help me lose the last hour of work!  I do all of this while working on FarmHer.  Sometimes the craziness of it all makes me, well, crazy.  Sometimes it makes me laugh. All in all, I couldn’t ask for anything better.  I am getting to grow the business that I love in my own way.  I get to do this at home, with my kids here being a part of my life and me being a part of theirs.  I am truly blessed. 

Here is the picture we came up with to illustrate my life.  It is based on one that I had seen of the great Tina Fey a few years back.  Dr. Schaefer did a fabulous job of capturing the craziness and my kids were so excited to be allowed to touch my keyboard that they were perfect angels.  

And yes, in case you are wondering, sometimes on those super crazy days, a beer bottle does make it’s way onto my desk.  Welcome to my life.

Photo credit Dr. Bill Schaefer for his Just Gals project.

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) chaos farmher just gals love marji photographer Wed, 14 Jan 2015 17:43:00 GMT
The Heart and Soul of a RanchHer Guest Post by Kim Waltman of Delbridge Cattle and Full Circle Ranch

As if leaping off the cliff from my rather comfortable, suburban life as a wife, mother and boutique public relations firm owner into the cattle ranching business wasn’t far enough outside my comfort zone - along comes Marji and FarmHer.

For the last handful of years – ever since I couldn’t answer my own question (“How does a person walk away from 100 years of a family’s heritage?”) – I’ve been learning what goes into raising the beef I’ve so much enjoyed indulging in for as long as I can remember.

Documenting my journey into cattle ranching in a blog allowed me to capture numerous life altering experiences in a very personal way. Little did I expect my words to reach others. It turns out that my lifelong obsession with horses combined with my new-found passion for cattle and the land compelled a complete stranger to reach out to me and request a chance to photograph an event at my family’s southern Iowa operation – working calves (which entails, branding, vaccinating, castrating and de-worming).

As one who finds much discomfort in front of a camera lens, the first time I spoke with Marji, I recommended she visit Landi McFarland of Hoover Angus Farm, a woman I befriended along my journey whose family’s operation is also located in southern Iowa.  I perceived that as a win-win-win. A win for Marji because she had another woman in ag subject, a win for Landi because as the fourth generation operator, it was a unique opportunity to share her story and a win for me – no camera lens pointed my way!

Underestimating Marji’s persistence was where my win-win-win theory backfired. After photographing Landi, Marji repeated her request to experience the ranch where we honor and preserve the Western Heritage (the way of the west).

Last May, Marji showed up sporting her FarmHer T-shirt, a camera (a few lenses) and an adventuresome attitude. Thankfully, she didn’t even blink when I introduced her to her “partner” for the morning – my most treasured horse, Dolly.

Marji embraced challenge of traversing several hundred acres on Dolly to round up cattle while attempting to steady her hand and the camera well enough to snap photos of the action – ranch team members, neighbors and friends rounding up the cattle horseback. Everytime I checked on Marji, she was taking it all in, smiling from ear-to-ear and genuinely enjoying each moment.

I feel fortunate to say that Marji and I have become friends - and cheerleaders for one another’s passions.

When we talk, whether it’s on the phone or in person, there’s an energetic dynamic.

Through my public relations firm, I collaborate with her in raising the visibility of women in ag through FarmHer.

Through FarmHer, she reminds me that as a woman in ag, I have incredible opportunities to connect people with where their food comes from while sharing how much heart and soul goes into raising beef, practicing land and water stewardship and learning how to humbly work alongside Mother Nature rather than against her.

Hands down, it’s a win-win – in a much unexpected, but beautiful way.


]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) Cattle Circle Delbridge Full Kim Ranch Waltman agriculture farmher iowa photography ranch-her ranchHer women Fri, 03 Oct 2014 11:42:24 GMT
Animals Make Us Human One Sunday morning near the end of winter I was working on my second cup of coffee and perusing the newspaper when I ran across a story about a woman named Sharon Krause.  Buried in the story was a brief mention that she raises sheep at her Dalla Terra Ranch in Dallas County, Iowa.  I had been looking for an operation with sheep to photograph and time and money restrictions needed that operation to be close to my was a perfect fit!  So, I sent her a message and she welcomed me to her ranch.  I visited Sharon on a sunny, late spring day when the fields were bursting with new baby lambs (and I am pretty sure these were the cutest lambs ever to exist).

Sharon’s Dalla Terra Ranch is 150 acres of gently rolling Iowa prairie paradise for the ewes and lambs she raises.  The thick Iowa pasture provides all of the nutrition that the animals need to remain healthy and strong so she is able to fully raise her sheep at pasture. 

When I first arrived, I watched as Sharon worked with some bottle babies that she was teaching to feed themselves. 

From there I rode along as she did a pasture check, making sure all of the sheep were doing fine.  As we finished in the first pasture and headed into the second, Sharon ran across a weak lamb.  At that moment I saw the same compassion and concern that has been at the heart of every FarmHer and RanchHer I have photographed.  Whether the farm has one or one thousand head of livestock, it is their duty to care for the animals. When the animals are sick or get injured, it hurts.  And I tend to think it hurts FarmHers and RanchHers just a little bit more. 

As we moved on to the last pasture for the day, Sharon went inside the fence to give a good pet to one of her trusted sheep dogs, Bo.  This is one of my favorite pictures because almost every farm or ranch comes with a much loved dog, and I was lucky enough to capture that bond between Sharon and Bo. 

As we wrapped up the day, we drove through the pasture, past the sheep sorting area and back to the barn.  I was reminded to ask Sharon about her sheep sorting system that I had read about on her website.  It was designed by the world famous Temple Grandin and I wanted to know more about how that came to be.  The story is simple.  Sharon admired Dr. Grandin’s work.  Dr. Grandin was speaking near Des Moines so Sharon reached out to her and asked her to come to the ranch to help her design a system for her sheep.  And Dr. Grandin came.  Now Dalla Terra has a sorting system for the sheep that allows the animals to move through quietly, without the agitation and fear that comes with more traditional sorting systems.  Yet another example of that care and concern that permeates through the FarmHers and RanchHers I have met, and the millions more I haven’t.  

Take a few minutes to check out the entire gallery of my visit to Dalla Terra Ranch on the FarmHer website.

Have any thoughts on FarmHer?  Send your feedback to

Get social!  Click the links below to visit FarmHer!


]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) RanchHer agriculture dalla terra ranch dallas county ewes farmher iowa lambs photography ranch-her women Mon, 14 Jul 2014 02:35:27 GMT
A FarmHer Family Tradition So many times I hear stories of farming and ranching as a way of life; a family tradition.  In the case of Landi McFarland, I heard the story of a FarmHer family tradition.  Landi is the fourth generation to operate Hoover Angus Farm, and the third generation of women FarmHers through which the farm has passed.  Landi and her family are one of the few and very proud owners of a Heritage Farm in the state of Iowa, meaning they have had continual family ownership of the same farm for over 150 years.  The Angus farm that was started by Landi’s great grandfather has been in operation for over 80 years.  It has been passed down through the women in Landi’s family, which a little unique and completely, absolutely awesome! 

From my first phone conversation with Landi it was clear she is a force to be reckoned with.   She grew up on the farm, working alongside her parents and grandparents.  Following college at Iowa State University she transitioned back to the farm and is now successfully managing the second largest registered black Angus farm in Iowa and one of the oldest herds in the nation.  Landi, alongside her family, not only manages the herd of around 400 head of cattle, but also heads up the family’s purebred Angus sale each year. 

Throughout the early spring morning that I visited Landi she conducted business on her phone.  I was impressed as she seamlessly coordinated the purchase of a new bull at an auction that same day in a different state and moved steadily through the regular daily chores, even calmly dealing with a few sick babies.  One of my favorite moments was watching Landi hold an injured calf as her dad changed the bandage on its foot.  I saw the same love, appreciation, care and concern in her face as I have seen in every FarmHer's face over the past year when they are working with livestock.  Whether four head or 400 head in their care, these women have a very distinct and visible admiration and concern for the animals they raise and nurture.

As we proceeded through her morning chores, we ran across a sick calf.  Landi sailed through it with a calmness that was impressive to watch.  A calmness that obviously comes from a lifetime of caring for cattle.  Following chores and calf checks at three different locations and a wonderful lunch at the local café, I was one my way home…but I have no doubt that Landi’s day managing Hoover Angus had only just begun.

Be sure to tune in to Market to Market on Iowa Public Television on July 18 to see an interview with Landi, another FarmHer and many more FarmHer images!

Have any thoughts on FarmHer?  Send your feedback to

Get social!  Click the links below to visit FarmHer!

]]> (FarmHer, Inc. by Marji Guyler-Alaniz) IPTV agriculture angus black farmher hoover iowa photography ranch-her ranchher women Wed, 11 Jun 2014 21:39:11 GMT