In an effort to get to know members, Grassroots Close-up highlights PFB members and their involvement in agriculture.
Published each month in the Country Focus member publication, each member is interviewed about such topics as their operation, products they sell, views on current agriculture processes, and why they are a Farm Bureau member.
We hope you enjoy getting to know your fellow members!
Please contact Liam Migdail at 717.761.2740 for more information or submit this online form.
|Brittany Foertsch||Butler||Crop & Beef Farm|
|Karen Chapin||Columbia||Crop Farm|
|Tim Wood||Tioga||Dairy Farm|
|Dennis Marbarger||Schuylkill||Crop & Beef Farm|
|Bob Rutledge||Wayne||Beef & Grain Farm|
|Stacy Hann||Perry||Dairy Farm|
|Mark Muir||Erie||Sheep Farm|
|LeeAnn Kapanick||Crawford||Beef & Crop Farm|
|Tim Goss||Mifflin||Hog Farm|
|Julie Perry||Bradford||Diversified Farm|
|Stephen Naylor||Perry||Grain Farmer|
|Courtney Meyer||Lancaster||Agriculture Insurance|
|Karen Doyle||York||Pick-Your-Own Farm|
|Don Carter||Washington||Agway Employee|
|Clair Esbenshade||Snyder||Diversified Farm|
|David Yeany||Forest||Maple Syrup Producer|
|Eliza Walton||Centre||Grain Mill Operator|
|Brett Reinford||Juniata||Dairy Farmer|
|Charles Wyant||Clarion||Equine Facility|
|Carissa Itle-Westrick||Cambria||Dairy Farmer|
|Jim & Kim Barbour||Susquehanna||Diversified Farm|
Rachel Kirkoff - Berks County
Tell us about your agriculture background
I grew up on my parent’s crop farm in Bernville, Berks county. When I was younger I was very involved in the local 4-H clubs. I showed beef and dairy beef steers at three local fairs. In high school I was also involved in FFA. At a young age I knew I wanted to work with livestock. This led me to pursue a degree at Delaware Valley College. I graduated in 2014 with degrees in Livestock Science and Management and Dairy Science. I currently work as a poultry flock supervisor and I am currently in the process of buying some beef cows to start a herd.
What do you do at your current job?
I currently work at Bell and Evans as a poultry flock supervisor. I visit our farms and help our growers with their operation by assisting them with any production questions or problems they may encounter throughout each flock. At Bell and Evans we take pride in providing a wholesome product raised humanely.
Your family has a long history of involvement with the Reading Fair. Why are agriculture fairs still relevant today?
As long as I can remember I have been attending the Reading Fair. Today, I serve on the fair board and I am the Dairy Beef department chair. I think that fairs are still very relevant to our society today. For the agriculture community, it gives us a place to gather in fellowship and exhibit our projects. It gives children the chance to show off an animal that they have put their blood, sweat and tears into in hope of winning that blue ribbon. Personally, some of my favorite childhood memories are spending time at the local fairs every summer and I can only hope kids in the future have the same opportunity.
It also gives the public a chance to come in and learn about our entries. They can see the animals or crops we have raised and it gives us a chance to promote our farms and operations. We can answer their questions and give them a firsthand look at our projects. Since people are so removed from agriculture today this is one way to positively showcase our industries and teach them what we do.
You serve on the Berks County Board of Directors. Why is it important for young people to get involved in Farm Bureau?
I currently serve as the Young Farmer and Rancher chair for Berks County. As the average age of farmers continues to rise, the younger generation has large shoes to fill. Getting involved at a young age can open many doors
and build relationships. Since I have been involved in Farm Bureau I have had many opportunities to network with other members. Also attending legislative events can allow young members to meet with their legislators. Creating that connection at a young age could be crucial for the future. Farm Bureau also offers a conference aimed towards young farmers. The breakout sessions can be very useful and this allows you to meet others in your industry from all over the state.
What are some ways that farmers can be active in promoting agriculture?
Farmers should take any chance they can to promote their operation. Many use forms of social media and write blogs to tell their stories. Staying active in local events such as fairs can also help us to promote our farms. Opening
our farms up to our communities for a field day and showing them the daily tasks we complete is another way we can promote what we do. It is important that we stick together no matter what type of farming we do and promote the importance of agriculture together.
Are you optimistic about the future of agriculture?
Yes. Right now is a very exciting time to be involved in agriculture. There is so much new technology we can incorporate into our farms and improve our operations. At the same time, people have never been more concerned with where their food comes from than they are right now. I think we need to use this to our advantage to tell our stories and inform the consumers of the facts. This is where the importance of promotion comes into play and making sure that we rid them of the misinformation they may hear. As anything does, there will always be ups and downs but there is no other industry I would rather be involved in than agriculture.
Lastly, why are you a Farm Bureau member?
I believe in what Farm Bureau stands for and being involved and volunteering is one way to give back to an organization who does so much for the future of agriculture. Being a member has also opened many doors and allowed me to network with members across the state. Getting to attend conferences and events is a great way to meet others who have similar operations and we can share ideas.