Editor's note: In honor of Agweek's 35th anniversary, this is part of a series of features on people who seem poised to be a big part of the next 35 years of agriculture in the region. If you have a suggestion of someone who should be featured, email it to email@example.com.
For some people, down time is a crucial part of their day; perhaps choosing to read a new book, or sip on a coffee while they watch the scenery from their front porch after a hectic day. But not Whitney Klasna; she would rather spend her time giving back to the industry she has grown to love.
“You could say I am a chronic volunteer. I am involved in a lot of agricultural organizations, and I volunteer in different ways,” Klasna said.
Klasna offers her skills and talents to an array of different organizations. She is the national secretary for United States Cattlemen's Association, serves on the planning committee for Women Stepping Forward for Agriculture Conference and on the advisory board for the REAL Montana Leadership Program and is also a volunteer firefighter, to name a few.
When Klasna is not busy volunteering, she is an integral part of her family’s diversified ag operation, which consists of Hereford cattle, small grains and winter wheat. Klasna ranches with her husband and his parents north of Lambert, Mont., in the northeastern part of the state.
Though Klasna grew up with an agricultural background, her time spent in FFA is what helped her decide to go into the agriculture industry and led her to Montana State University where she majored in ag education with a focus in extension relations.
“My time in FFA in high school really showed me the amazing opportunities that agriculture offered. It wasn't just farming and ranching; there’s a great diverse section of career opportunities within agriculture,” Klasna said.
Klasna later went on to become an FFA state officer for the Montana FFA program.
In a normal year, Klasna travels to Washington D.C., twice a year to help lobby for the ag industry. However, due to COVID-19, she has not yet made the journey recently. Yet, she still uses her voice to help bring awareness to the issues in rural America and its industries.
“(Issues) we are working hard on are rural broadband issues and getting connectivity into rural America. I have to drive out to my cow pasture and ping off an area cell phone tower just to be able to connect to the internet for virtual meetings,” Klasna said.
She has also been focusing on the farm bill as well as cattle market transparency issues.
“It’s part of my contribution to the industry, being able to give our industry a voice. People don’t always have the opportunity to leave their ranch and go advocate for our industries and lobby at the state legislatures or at the national level in Washington D.C. I figured I could use my skill set and amplify their voice,” Klasna said.
“It’s a passion project of mine,” Klasna said.