Shine On~ Women in Agriculture~ Demi Guerin
Shine On, Shine On was the subject of a blog post that I did a while back.
Here is the link to my first Shine On, Shine On post! I have decided that there are a lot of people that help me “Shine” and I am going to feature them on my Shine On, Shine On series.
This year I decided to start a new spin on my Shine On series and add a little more of agricultural spin. I am excited to be bringing you these interviews. My goal is to share these fine ladies stories with you all. Help me welcome my second Shine On Lady, Demi.
From historic homesteaders to contemporary cattle ranchers, women have been the cornerstone of America’s agriculture heritage. In fact, the 2012 Census of Agriculture notes that nearly 1 million women are working America’s lands. That is nearly a third of our nation’s farmers. Women are also scientists, economists, foresters, veterinarians, and conservationists. Women are in the boardrooms and the corner offices of international enterprises, and are the owners and operators of small businesses. Women are property owners and managers. Women are policymakers and standard bearers. Women are involved in every aspect of agriculture.
Shine On~Women In Agriculture featuring: Demi Guerin
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your career path.
Hi y’all! I grew up in the northern part of Colorado, in the small town of Kersey. Growing up in a rural community heavily influenced my love for the agriculture industry but my years in FFA and 4-H made me believe that pursuing a life involved in agriculture is what I was supposed to do. I was always involved with agriculture, when I was young, but it was more on the recreational side, as I competitively showed western performance horses in Reined Cowhorse and Cutting.
It wasn’t until my years at Colorado State University that I found my passion for the beef industry and the production sector of agriculture. I graduated with degrees in Agriculture Business, Equine Science, and Business Administration. While in college I interned with a feedyard in Southern Colorado, where I learned and experienced various aspects of the cattle industry. Upon graduation, I was hired on with Platte Valley Cattle Company, LLC. (PVCC) as their controller. PVCC is a calf ranch, located in northern Colorado, that purchases and raises day old dairy calves, until they are ready to be shipped to our feedyard. Not only do we raise steers but we custom raise dairy heifers for surrounding dairies that will be returned to their production herd, to contribute to the next generation of calves.
When I’m not at PVCC I am working on our family farm/ranch with our commercial beef herd and our newly started registered Simmental herd. Over the next few years and decades we hope to increase our numbers on both sides and continue to produce great cattle, genetics and, of course, great BEEF!
Tell us about your role and what does your “typical day” looks like.
For a majority of my ‘non-agriculture’ friends they don’t understand how I can manage, what seems to be, two full-time jobs. My response is always, “I don’t know anything different” or “It’s the life we’ve chosen.”. A typical day is filled with outside work, office work, and house work. The day typically starts with morning chores, which includes feeding horses, cattle we have separated off from the herd, show cattle, and the other barn creatures. While all the creatures are eating breakfast that leaves time to clean horse runs and check cows. After morning chores are finished it is time to head to my ‘real job’. I am usually in the PVCC office from 7am-4pm. While at the office I handle all of the day to day activities of keeping the business going, from individual calf data to accounting practices and EVERYTHING in between. Once I’ve wrapped up my duties at PVCC, it is on to afternoon chores at the farm. Afternoon chores are my favorite, as I don’t have to rush to get to work after. It’s amazing the time you have to think while you are alone doing chores – it’s my time to plan the rest of the week. I would say my typical day is a well-managed balancing act! Ha!
Who is/was your biggest influencer or mentor? What did you learn from them?
I think about this question, a lot as I go through my daily life and the person who has made the largest impact on my life would be my Step Father, who I affectionately refer to as my Old Man. He always tells people that I am more like him than his biological kids, and I can’t say I disagree with that statement. From the time I learned to ride horses (about 7 years old), I was addicted. This addiction really worked in my favor because my Old Man too, was addicted to the horse show world. I credit my Old Man for raising me with a work ethic that has gotten me to this point in my life. As I was showing horses competitively, I had to earn my entry fees by working around the farm. Showing my horses was what I wanted to do, therefore, I was going to do what I needed to get there and developing a stellar work ethic was it. I learned many life skills that have gotten me to where I am today but the work ethic he instilled in me is the skill I truly believe has made me the person I am today.
How do you define personal success? How are you working to get there?
I define personal success as reaching short-term goals that are contributing to one’s ability of achieving their long-term goal. I believe that if you set a major goal without short-term or ‘stepping stone’ goals there is a much more likely chance that you are not going to achieve that major goal. By setting short-term goals you gain satisfaction as you accomplish each one on your way to the top. The sense of accomplishment when achieving short-term goals, helps drive you on to the next goal you need to reach your long-term goal.
How do you think a women’s role(s) in farming/ranching/agriculture has changed over the last decade?
I believe that the women’s role in agriculture has changed immensely over the last decade. I think there are women who are involved in agriculture that find their place in all areas of the industry. Whether she is working in the office managing books or working in the field, she is playing a vital role. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and I feel that women involved in agriculture are great at honing in on her strengths. By acknowledging ones strengths, you can figure out where you can add the most value to your specific operation. I feel that a woman can do anything her Cowboy can do, it’s just a matter of if he lets her or not. Ha! For instance, my Cowboy only lets me drive the ‘little’ tractor, not his ‘big’ tractor.
Learning from our mistakes is an important part of life. Would you mind helping others and share a mistake that you have made and what it taught you in the process?
One of the first mistakes I made when really getting involved in agriculture production industry was when Cowboy and I were working cattle. Communication. Before we started working Cowboy and I didn’t discuss a plan on how we wanted to get the task accomplished. By not having a plan it caused the both of us to get irritated and not efficiently achieve the task at hand. We both realized that we needed to take a step back and take a minute to discuss the best way to go about job. Once we had communicated about the current job, we were both on the same page and things went much smoother the next time. We make sure that we communicate about all aspects of the farm/ranch so we both know what is happening.
How would you define “women in agriculture?”
I would define women in agriculture as any women who makes agriculture a major part of her life and is doing what she can to help better the industry and inform consumers.
What in your opinion, is the most important topic in the agriculture world right now?
In my opinion, one of the most important topics in agriculture is transparency. Every day I feel that consumers are wanting to know more about where their food is coming from. As farmers and ranchers it is our responsibility is to help educate those who want to listen and learn. There are plenty of myths and bad press that can be found on the internet, so when we have opportunity to educate people on what is real it is a small step to squashing some of those myths. When you have the opportunity to teach someone about your agriculture operation, take it!
What is in your daily toolbox? Planner? Phone? Computer? Special item(s)? Why do you carry it with you?
My phone and computer are in my daily toolbox. Between my phone and computer I can access almost any data I need for the ranch or PVCC. The calendar on my phone keeps me on time and on schedule for the usually hectic weeks that come especially during spring calving.
In closing, do you have any advice, quotes for young women, or anyone that is starting their career in agriculture?
One of my favorite quotes is by the late great John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” This really applies to mine and Cowboys life a majority of the time. To survive in this industry, you will most likely have to start near the bottom and work your way up. There will be a lot of hard days but there will be even more good days. Find someone who is willing to dream your dreams with you and go for it! You are only giving one life to live, so live it with passion!
Finally, never stop learning. You can learn something from everyone you meet. Never be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Demi~Thank you for taking time out of your day to answer a few questions. I am thankful that our paths crossed. I appreciate all you do. I also appreciate our few chats and your support!
Here are a few more reasons that you help me Shine On:
🌟You have a good attitude on everything you do. I appreciate your “GO TO IT ATTITUDE.”
🌟I admire your involvement in agriculture associations and your community.
🌟I also admire your loyalty.
🌟You are a great example.
🌟Your a hard worker and it shows.
🌟I love that you are fun to be around.
🌟I love that you always smile not matter how your day is.
🌟You make those, myself included, feel comfortable with as you.
🌟Surround yourself with people who make you hungry for life, touch your heart, and nourish your soul.
My message to you, dear friend is Shine On!!
Thank you for just being YOU!