Shine On~Women in Agriculture~Savanna Simmons
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.
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. Women do play significant roles in agriculture and this series is to spotlight some of those women.
Shine On~Women In Agriculture featuring: Savanna Simmons
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your career path.
Well, I’m an ag journalist, which includes photography, writing, and blogging; as well as a mom to two young cowboys, Brindle and Roan; a wife to my husband, Boe, of eight years; and a daughter of God.
I graduated from Chadron State College in 2010 with a degree in liberal arts with an emphasis in journalism. I got into journalism initially for the photography and graphics, but I have since transitioned to writing more heavily, even being awarded Professional Agriculture Communicators writer of the year a few years ago.
Right out of the gate, I worked for a small town newspaper for about a year, then transitioned to operating a business out of a horse barn for two years. I worked retail for a year when my firstborn was a baby, then got into writing for Tri-State Livestock News just after my second was born. I have since had articles and photos published in other publications, but I truly enjoy working for a local newspaper, Tri-State Livestock News, if you can call a three- to five-state coverage “local”.
Tell us about your role and what does your “typical day” looks like.
I write on a variety of topics; this morning, in particular, the topic was healing overgrazed pastures. I tend to enjoy equine-related stories and features about ranching families or individuals, but I have had stories on every ag topic out there. I appreciate cattle and all they provide me and my family, so I’m glad to take any beef or cattle stories that come my way.
During the school year, I blessedly get much of my work done while my sons are at school, but at the moment, my three-year-old is playing at my feet, having finished preschool at noon. During the summer, I do my best to balance being a mother and having a career.
Who is/was your biggest influencer or mentor? What did you learn from them?
Lately, I’ve been really inspired by my editors. I hadn’t really been inspired by a journalist before; I sort of followed a calling to head in this direction, which has been a big blessing in that I get to work from home or anywhere at just about any time of day. Getting back to it, Carrie and Maria are both mothers and at the head of a magnificent, award-winning newspaper that is really the backbone of ag media in our area of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, and a little into Montana and Nebraska as well. They’ve taught me a lot about myself and my abilities and have lent me a great deal of confidence.
How do you define personal success? How are you working to get there?
I worry less about success and more about what I need to do. I focus on the day-to-day and little things. I don’t care about name recognition or titles. It isn’t really me. I would rather put my head down and work hard for agriculture and let the others who are more worthy be labeled as “successes”. People like my husband and the men with whom he works are much more worthy of the attention. I just hope to shed a little positive light in their direction through what I do; I suppose that would be a success to me if I was able to accomplish that.
How do you think a women’s role(s) in farming/ranching/agriculture has changed over the last decade?
Women are such a quiet, support system in agriculture, in raising the next generation of ag producers to working alongside their husbands. Having a job in town to support the family or even stepping in to take over the ranch, in cases. I don’t know how much their roles have actually changed over the last decade, they’re just as strong and important as ever, but I do think more often they are getting a small nod from society in how much they actually contribute, which, in many situations, is a great deal.
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?
This year, I have been saying “yes” to opportunities and adventures for myself. While this sometimes takes the help of several big-hearted individuals to cover what I usually do, primarily taking care of my children and running them to school and back, I am adamantly not feeling guilty about it (trying not to, anyway) and brazenly going on my adventures. I haven’t done this in the past five years, and I’ve missed a lot of opportunities for it, and it turns out, the only person holding me back from all of this has been me.
This winter, I attended Art of the Cowgirl in Arizona; this summer, I attended an Art of the Cowgirl horsemanship clinic in Montana with Lee Smith, a woman I rode with in my youth; this fall, I will attend both a silversmith clinic in Nebraska (something I have never done, but had an interest in for some time), and I will attend a photography ranch tour in Arizona.
As soon as I started dreaming that I could let myself have some freedom and fun, generally all in the form of learning, a favorite pastime of mine, figurative do
figurative doors starting flying open, if you can imagine.
How would you define “women in agriculture?”
What in your opinion, is the most important topic in the agriculture world right now?
Society’s view on beef is so skewed. I’m such a fan of the work that ranchers are doing for our grasslands and our world, and city dwellers are concerned only of cow flatulence, a very small part of the big picture. Livestock producers are stewards of the land, often providing habitat for wildlife and improving pastures and grasslands that would otherwise be overrun by aggressive weed species, and they’re utilizing it all while providing a healthy, safe food source produced in our own country. I won’t get into it much further, but I do think education is key for our former, current, or future customers to understand what is really happening on the prairies and desserts of the midwest and west.
What is in your daily toolbox? Planner? Phone? Computer? Special item(s)? Why do you carry it with you?
I carry my former diaper bag, a beautiful handmade leather bag gifted from many friends, stuffed with my iPad Pro, my favorite on which to write stories; my Happy Planner, the third of its kind, which I adore; my headphones to make calls, giving myself a chance to hear my interviewee over my rowdy kiddos; a handful of colorful pens; and likely a few snacks as well. Kids have a harder time being loud if their mouths are full.
Occasionally, my laptop gets thrown in my bag for editing photos, but most of the time that stays home and my iPad is all I need.
In closing, do you have any advice, quotes for young women, or anyone that is starting their career in agriculture?
I have gotten to where I am from listening to God. Much like leading me to journalism, He has given me so many unique opportunities and adventures, and I am one to jump in headfirst. Not all are that way, but it has served me so well.
In hindsight, I can see God’s work in my life, which wasn’t always evident at the time. If you have a gut-feeling or can’t shake a feeling that you should follow a path, give it a go. Very few things in life are truly permanent.
Is there anything you would like to add?
For other women, find strong women who lift and build you up. Return the favor for them, and forget about those who tear you down. I have grown so immensely from the women in my bible study and those with whom I work. It’s been an amazing journey of growth over the past four years, but that has happened even more over the past year after allowing myself opportunities to connect with those strong, but humble women.
Here are a few more reasons that you help me Shine On:
🌟I love your attitude. Your good attitude on everything you do does not go unnoticed. “
🌟 I admire your outlook on life.
🌟You make me want to be a better person.
🌟Your a hard worker and it shows.
🌟Your beautiful inside and out.
🌟I admire your picture taking and writing.
🌟I appreciate your advocacy efforts. Telling our story about the way we live is important and You my friend, are one the the best.
🌟You are an great example.
.🌟Strong women stand together when things get rough, hold each other up when they need support, and laugh together when there’s no reason to.
When I think of you, this quote comes to mind:
“The world needs strong women. Women who lift & build others, who will love and be loved. Women who live bravely, both tender & fierce. Women of indomitable will.” Amy Tenney
And you my friend, are one of those strong women.
My message to you, dear friend is Shine On!!
Thank you for just being YOU!~Naomi