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I’m Old & Wiser

Shine On~Women in Agriculture~ Megan J Harkless

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: Megan J Harkless 

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your career path.

My name is Megan J Harkless, I will be 30 *YIKES* this May. My husband Matthew and I have a three-year-old son, Tyce, who is our wild little cowboy! I grew up in Oral, SD but now reside in Oelrichs, SD. I’ve always had a passion for livestock since I was a little girl, and I knew I wanted to make a career path doing something involved in the livestock world. Almost five years ago I finally made my dream a reality and started by attending an A.I. (artificial insemination) school put on by Genex in the spring of 2015. Later that year I went onto ultrasound school, and from there M&M Cattle Services was born. Since than I have became a sales rep for Genex (a cattle semen company), a dealer for Ramona Warehouse (horse feed/mineral), and recently became a dealer for Smartlic/Horselic mineral tubs. I also started ultrasounding cows at Fall River Feedyard going on a year in January, this is year-round, as cows come in consistently.

I also run the Fall River County play-day, put on a barrel series and jackpots throughout the summer (Crushin Cans) which will be expanding this year with locations including Oelrichs, Harrison, Hermosa and Edgemont. I am also on the Fall River County Fair-board, and will be taking over putting on the ranch rodeo at this years fair

Tell us about your role and what does your “typical day” looks like.

A typical day for me would be at a client’s ultrasounding, A.I.ing, delivering feed/mineral, going thru bulls for the next/current AI season, looking at their cow herd & calves, or simply just delivering feed or mineral, but most days you could probably find me at the Fall River Feedyard ultrasounding. I have recently added two helpers, Matt Peters & Clay Edgar, who you can also find with me on a typical day, operating a chute, giving shots, tagging, implanting, or doing whatever task needs to be done. They have been nothing but tremendous help, with a lot of laughs! They will both be attending AI school this spring, which I am so excited about, I can’t wait to see their future grow with M&M Cattle Services!

Who is/was your biggest influencer or mentor? What did you learn from them?

One of my biggest influencers and mentors would have to be Amy Pravecek, she has been a HUGE part of my life going on 12-15 years now. She has taught me to dream big, stay focused, and work hard. To never give up no matter how big the mountains may be. I am so thankful and blessed to have her in my life, let alone by my side. Much of my accomplishments are with her influence and persistence of pushing me to keep going. She is always sending me information to further my education, connecting me to people to continually grow and expand my business. She is one of the greatest women I know, so Amy if your reading this THANK YOU, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without you.

My second biggest influencer would be my parents, Russ & Lisa Frasier. Many probably don’t know, but I was not raised on a ranch; I spent a lot of my free time at my Uncle & Aunts ranch in WY, or at a neighbor’s ranch in Oral. My parents made sure we had enough land so I could have my horses, and for that I am forever grateful! Even though they didn’t own a ranch, they always instilled values into everyday life. I was taught to respect everyone, no matter the circumstance and to always remember everyone is dealing with something – so extend them a smile. As I have grown and became a sole proprietor, I continue to hold these values close to my heart. In fact these values are the foundation of my life and business, so dad & mom, thank you also for molding me into who I am today.

How do you define personal success? How are you working to get there?

I would define personal success by accomplishing your personal goals you have set for yourself, continuing to add to your goals when you get one checked off your list. One of my favorite quotes “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful” Albert Schweitzer. There is so much truth to that quote, I would not be successful if I was not happy, I would be miserable. Fortunately, I am lucky enough to absolutely love what I do, and to me that’s the best personal success you can achieve. I work daily to achieve the goals I have set for myself & my business, but when you wake up ecstatic to go to work its hard not to keep pushing yourself and striving for the best for not only you but your business.

How do you think a women’s role(s) in farming/ranching/agriculture has changed over the last decade?

I think over the last decade women are now coming into the forefront of agriculture, for example over the past 30-40 years the number of female owned farms/ranches has tripled. Which to me, that’s awesome, go get em’ girls! But as women continue to take bigger roles in the ag world, we are still the primary caregivers for our children, along with cooking and up keeping the house. Which therefore means we sometimes are working 24/7, not saying that men don’t by no means, but as a woman I still think this is a big part of our role.

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?

I know a mistake I make and get reminded of is thinking you know all of something whether it be ultrasounding or simply moving cows, no matter how much you think you know, there is always more to learn. You can always learn more if your willing to listen and make yourself better, no matter what the situation may be. So, my biggest advice is to be willing to listen & learn, and in the long run you will be making yourself better and more knowledgeable to pass on to the next person. Just because someone does it different, doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong, they just may be doing it smarter 😉

How would you define “women in agriculture?”

I would define women in agriculture as women taking the initiative to step out of their comfort zone to build a successful business/career of their own in agriculture, which in most instances means being willing to work just as hard, if not harder than the men in agriculture. I’m often asked if I feel like my growth has been hindered because I am female. My answer is no, absolutely not, I don’t feel like it has hindered my growth in the ag world or created obstacles. I guess I never have let the thought that being a female means I’ll have obstacles, because I don’t care if your male or female, everyone will have obstacles in their life.

What in your opinion, is the most important topic in the agriculture world right now?

I’d say one of the most important topics in agriculture right now would be the importation of beef, or growing meat in a lab. We have a great product being bred & raised right here in America, why wouldn’t we support that? Not only would we be supporting an American product, but we are getting quality beef on top it all while supporting the American farmers & ranchers. Sadly, the world has made it more difficult for the smaller farms/ranches to survive in todays world as it gets harder for them to earn a decent living.

What is in your daily toolbox? Planner? Phone? Computer? Special item(s)? Why do you carry it with you?

My daily toolbox would consist of my A.I. tools, my daily planner, cell phone, a notebook and my Microsoft surface! I carry them all with me, as I never know when I’ll get a call asking if can come AI 2 cows that evening, as they were in standing heat that morning & I am already somewhere delivering feed etc. I have had this happen multiple times, so I try to keep extras stashed away in my pickup. I try to also keep my surface on me also as I have gotten many calls asking what bull they used last year or the year before, or how much of this product did I buy last year or last month, etc. The notebook has come in the most handy as I am able to always take notes, and not try remember it all by the time I get home. I’ve learned that if I can keep most of these items with me than I can pretty much be prepared for whatever the day may throw at me!

In closing, do you have any advice, quotes for young women, or anyone that is starting their career in agriculture?

My main message would be to never give up on yourself, your goals, and your dreams. We all have mountains to climb, it’s okay to feel beaten up, just never give up. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to be all you can be. I didn’t get to where I am in life today overnight, its only through having perseverance to keep moving forward when the going gets tough. I have had to climb some pretty big mountains and bust though many obstacles. People will quit on you; you just have to get up everyday and make sure you never quit yourself. We don’t always get what we wish for, but we do get what we work for. I would not change any aspect of my path that has gotten me to where I am today. Don’t spend your life making someone else’s dream, make YOUR dream. I have a lot of quotes that I love, but one of my favorites is “I am in competition with no one. I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone. I am simply trying to be better than the person I was yesterday” Bill Owen. I picked this quote because I often think we spend to much time of our lives trying to out do the other person, when really, we should just be trying to focus on outdoing ourselves from yesterday. Judge no one, just work on improving yourself & remember everyone is fighting their own battles, so don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Just a heartfelt thank you to so many people, which unfortunately is to many to list, but without you I wouldn’t be able to be doing what I am passionate about. So, to all of you thank you, thank you so much.

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 that you are producing ranch rodeos and keeping our western heritage alive.

 🌟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:

“We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free.” – Kavita Ramdas

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

2019 South Dakota Ag Women of the Year
~Megan J Harkless

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