Kelsey Kruse is a 6th generation farmer in southwest Iowa raising hogs in partnership with her parents and brother. Sustaining the family farm is very important to the Kruse family. They strive to continue their legacy ensuring the 7th generation has the opportunity to farm the land their grandparents cared for.
In addition to working on the farm, Kelsey works off the farm as many young farmers do for added financial stability, income diversification and healthcare benefits. She is grateful to come home each evening to farm alongside her family.
Q: What inspired you to return to the farm?
A: My family! My brother and I are 6th generation farmers and that is something that I am very proud to say. I love where I grew up and all the experiences that I’ve gotten to have living on the farm.
Q: As a child, did you envision you would return to the farm? What attracted you to and discouraged you from the idea of returning to the farm?
A: I will be honest, I had not given much thought to returning to the farm until I went away to college. As it turns out, I really missed being around livestock, the fresh air and good ol’ country living. After pursuing an agricultural degree and meeting so many other kids just like me, I knew that I wanted agriculture to continue to have a place in my life. It was really the experiences in college where I learned to appreciate just how blessed I am to have the upbringing that I did on the farm.
Farming takes common sense, determination, communication, critical thinking and true grit to achieve your goals. It can be very intimidating and overwhelming! I would say that these things both attracted and discouraged me to returning home. But, it is a family operation. Everyone works together to get whatever needs done, done.
Q: What was the best part about growing up on a farm?
A: Growing up on a farm definitely sets you apart from most others out there. With 2% of the population farming today, most of my friends and classmates didn’t know much about farming at all. Growing up on a farm gave me the unique opportunity to learn many skills that most of my classmates did not have the luxury of learning at home. I learned how to drive a tractor, throw hay in the summer heat, grow sweet corn, see baby pigs and calves born into the world and show off my hard work at the grand Iowa State Fair because of my family’s farming profession. I truly believe that this all helped make me a well-rounded person and someone who appreciates the little things in life.
Q: What about returning to farm has been most rewarding?
A: Returning home has given me a greater sense of appreciation for all that my parents and other farming families do. We might work a full eight-hour work day and come home to grind feed, bed buildings or load a semi-truck in the dark or in a snowstorm. It has been very rewarding in the sense of creating a good work ethic and appreciating a quality raised product, in the field and in the hog lots. It has also been a confidence booster as a woman to say, “Yeah, I can do this. Farming isn’t just for the boys.”
Q: How did the Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship help you achieve your goals?
A: Financial support is one of the biggest obstacles that any young person has, myself included. I’ve been around Niman Ranch long enough (20 years, in fact!) to see the Next Generation Foundation Scholarship grow into what it is today. Thank you for investing in the future of farming! I know that we will make you proud by producing the best tasting meat in the world while respecting the land and animals that we’ve been given the job of caring for.
Q: Why is scholarship support important for students from a farming background?
A: It is no secret that farming can be a very expensive, stressful and risky profession to be a part of. Scholarships like what the Next Generation Foundation so graciously provides take a little bit of pressure off young students who are juggling college classes, living expenses, finding their path in life and possibly farm work at home. Young men and women who plan to return to the family farm or who want to farm have an increased amount of stress, worry and maybe a few more obstacles to overcome than their peers.
Kids raised with a farming background not only know how to work hard but appreciate when they are given help to achieve their goals. I’m thankful that the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation Scholarship supports people like me.
Q: What is one thing you wish people who aren’t familiar with farming knew about farming and life on a farm?
A: Farmers are very proud of what they do and what they produce. We have the utmost respect for the process and the livestock that God has placed in front of us. We take care of our livestock to the best of our abilities and make their time here as comfortable and humane as possible. Don’t believe everything that you read online or see in the news. When it comes down to it, farmers care. I encourage anyone and everyone to get involved in 4-H and FFA programs and help tell the story of the future of agriculture and building future great leaders of America.