5 questions with Dawn Nagel, FSA executive director and cattle rancher from Gettysburg, S.D.
Q: What is your role in agriculture today? I am the executive director of the Sully County Farm Service Agency in South Dakota. I work with producers regarding the farm bill programs available through our office. Understanding these programs is v...
Q: What is your role in agriculture today?
I am the executive director of the Sully County Farm Service Agency in South Dakota. I work with producers regarding the farm bill programs available through our office. Understanding these programs is vital, and I strive to educate producers on opportunities.
I also work with my family's farm and ranch near Gettysburg, S.D. We raise Red Angus/Gelbvieh cattle, along with wheat, corn, sunflowers and soybeans. Our goal is to consistently produce a safe and wholesome product for our consumption and consumer consumption.
Q: How has agriculture shaped your life?
I have been active in our family's operation as long as I can remember, and it has provided me the roots to know where food comes from and the wings to help others understand that as well. I know the value of hard work, goal setting, loss and recovery, and have been able to see first-hand the rewards of my labor. One cannot be in agriculture without having the need to look to the future and plan for good times and bad times.You need to look at the big picture and think about who you serve. We serve our consumers, and fulfilling their needs remains our No. 1 goal. People always will need to eat, and seeing those needs met has been an inspiration to me. I want people to understand that there is more than one way to provide good food and fiber, I want them to be educated on the opportunities to better who we are today for the future, and I want them to knowledgeable regarding the progress made in agriculture each day.
Q: What excites you about your community?
I am excited by the small town atmosphere and knowing that people care because they know who you are and they want to see you succeed. One of the nicest things for me is being able to do what I love most with the people I love most. Small towns survive when they have a strong agriculture economy that enables them to provide jobs to more people and pay for services from others within that community. To be there you have to take care of one another and work together to be successful.
Q: What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you?
I support them in their endeavors and look for ways to help them and not hinder them. It may not be what I would do, but that is why they are doing it! I believe in finding common ground and addressing concerns together. The men and women in agriculture both past and present encourage me, but the people who encourage me most are the youth, specifically my niece and two nephews. They inspire me to look at what they will need 20 years from now, to understand the world they will live in at that time and to think about what I need to do to make sure it is suitable for them in the way they will need it - not in the way I think it should be. Being able to share what I love most with them keeps me inspired.
My other sources of encouragement are the women in ag. The women have been and always will be a staple backbone in the world of agriculture. We have different assets than men, and they are both needed to create the best future.
Q: If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
I have many mentors in many areas of my life. First and foremost, my main mentors are my parents. They provided me with a strong foundation of faith and service to others, and they taught me to overlook personal pride and to be fair to the people I work for and with. I appreciate that they taught me I am not here to see what I can get from this life or how much wealth I can build, but I am here to see what I can give to others. I respect my dad for working the farm while his brothers were called to war. He continues to persevere in the profession he loves. My parents taught me to build wealth in the people I know and value people I meet for what they can teach me.
Would you like to be featured in this segment or know of someone who would make an interesting profile? Contact Katie Pinke at email@example.com .