For National FFA 2017 New Century Farmer Cheyenne Sieberns, farming has been part of her life ever since she could walk.
“I have been working on our family farm ever since I can remember, simply because we are a family farm, owned and operated by our family,” Sieberns said
An intricate part of the Corydon, Indiana family beef operation, along with her dad, brother, and grandfather, Sieberns grew up making hay, building fence, washing equipment, stacking brush, picking rock, feeding cattle, spraying weeds, picking up feed … basically anything her Grandpa told her to do. But Sieberns has never despised working on the farm.
‘I actually love working on the farm because I know I am contributing my time to something none of us can live without: food,” Sieberns said.
Sieberns was one of 50 outstanding young people the National FFA Organization selected to participate in the 2017 New Century Farmer conference held July 16- 22 in Johnstown, Iowa. The exclusive, highly competitive program develops young men and women committed to pursuing a career in production agriculture.
And Sieberns is fully committed.
Currently a full-time student at Murray State University studying animal science, she plans to return to the southern Indiana/northern Kentucky area to work as a nutritionist for livestock. She also wants to have a family farm of her own one day, with beef cattle, horses, and possibly chickens or goats. After that, Sieberns intends to divide her time volunteering for the local 4-H program as well as for the local cattlemen’s association and Farm Bureau.
While Sieberns’ plans for the future may seem quite ambitious to some, it’s just icing on the cake compared to all of the accomplishments the young farmer has already achieved. In addition to working on her family farm, she also worked for Timbach Farm, a horse farm, between her junior and senior year in high school. Last year, she started working at Mini Rock Farm. Sieberns showed horses and cattle all 10 years in 4-H, and meat goats for four years. Currently she shows her quarter horse in the Kentuckiana Ranch Horse Association. She also held the title of Miss Harrison County in 2016.
“I would definitely have to say my work ethic comes from a combination of many things. First and foremost, I would have to give my family the credit of always pushing me to do better,” Sieberns said. “My family seemed to never let me off the hook, whether I was working on 4-H projects or a report for school, they always had ways for me to improve it whether I wanted to or not.”
Sieberns also credits her success to community support and maintaining strong studying skills throughout high school. However, when it comes to her passion for agriculture, she gives props to FFA.
“I have always loved agriculture, but I think my real passion for agriculture exploded my freshman year of high school. As a freshman, I started doing every contest I had time for, which helped me in the future fill out a proficiency and various other applications through FFA,” Sieberns said. “After I became very involved with the FFA, I realized the public does not really understand what exactly goes on in agriculture, or why farmers do what they do … agriculture is the backbone of America, and farmers and consumers need to be on the same page so that both parties can learn to appreciate one another.”
Sieberns said she first joined FFA simply because it was an agricultural based group. Her dad was in FFA, and earned his American FFA Degree, so she knew she better go after it too. She knew her agriculture teacher, Mr. Sauerheber, her whole life and knew she would learn a lot from him. Also since FFA offered a lot of educational contests, such as Crops Judging and Livestock Judging, Sieberns hoped she could learn some new things to bring back home to the farm and improve the operation.
“I loved doing the contests in FFA. I participated in everything I possibly could from Crops Judging, Livestock Judging, Prepared Public Speaking, and even receiving my Hoosier FFA Degree,” Sieberns said. “These contests taught me skills like how to identify crops in our own fields, how to decide which animals to buy at auctions, and most importantly, how to teach other FFA members about what I have learned.”
Now Sieberns can proudly share her New Century Farmer experience with other FFA’ers. From meeting a Lays potato producer from Florida and a vegetable farmer from south Texas to touring Dupont Pioneer and hearing from the National FFA Organization CEO Mark Peoschl about the future of FFA, it was an experience Sieberns will never forget.
“There is nothing that is more encouraging than meeting 49 other FFA members from across the nation that share the exact same passion as you do. Even though not everyone has cattle or 5,000 acres of row crops, that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things,” Sieberns said. “All that matters is that we all have a passion for agriculture and want to continue improving our current farming operations.”
Sieberns took home a great deal of information from the New Century Farmer program on the latest technology for farming. And even though her family farm probably can’t afford it, she said it’s good to know what options farms have today.
Finally, as a woman in agriculture, Sieberns said she recognizes it is important to take advantage of every learning experience she can, whether it’s a field day, seminar, or a workshop.
“Even if you’re only interested in animals, be sure you push yourself to learn about crops and plants too, because everything in agriculture works together,” Sieberns said. “Before my agriculture teacher made me take a plant and soil science class my freshman year of high school, I hated studying plants. I hated studying them because I didn’t understand them, but after that class, it completely changed my way of thinking and made me just as interested in plants as I am in livestock.”
Sieberns has some other advice for young ladies looking to pursue a career in agriculture:
- Get involved with 4-H and FFA as soon as possible because those organizations are the best ways to get involved with agriculture.
- Do not get discouraged. Sieberns said while it can be a little discouraging at times because not everyone is receptive about the increasing number of women coming into the agricultural field, keep pushing on and proving to people how much you know and how much you are willing to learn.
- Women in agriculture need to remember to set a good example. People are watching you, even when you think no one is around. Thirty years ago, it may not have been common place for a woman to be running a family farm, but now it is becoming more and more common.
For example, during hay season Sieberns teds hay on a rented piece of property down the road, and in the house that’s on that property live a family of four, the two children being young girls.
“One day their mother told me her two girls love to watch me drive the tractor out in the field because I’m ‘that girl who can drive a tractor,’ and when she told me that it made realize that I had impacted those two girls’ lives without even talking to them,” Sieberns said. “So, just always remember to set a good example, even when you think no one is paying attention to you.”