Hometown: Houston, AR
Title/Position: Partner in River Valley Farms and Co-owner of Thrash Irrigation & Supply
Briefly describe your role: I place and ship out orders for Thrash Irrigation, and I am the record keeper for both Thrash Irrigation and River Valley Farms.
Q&A with Renee'
Q: Is what you’re doing now what you always pictured you would do?
A: No. I knew nothing about farming when I married my husband in 1987. I have a degree in elementary education and thought I would still be teaching school. I really love the farm life and am so thankful and blessed to have raised my family here.
Q: What do you see as the greatest challenges for women in your chosen industry? What are the greatest opportunities?
A: Farming is a demanding occupation for anyone, but for women in particular. It is a male dominated world and the lack of other women in the farming community to connect with is difficult. It also requires a lot of physical strength.
I do believe women are being seen as equals more than ever before and hopefully that will continue to grow. We have a lot to offer. Mechanization has also helped with the more physical challenges that accompany farm work. Hopefully this will encourage more women to take the lead on their farms.
Q: Who has inspired you in your life/career?
A: My parents have always been hard workers, and my mom was never one to baby us if something was difficult. They definitely played a huge part in my determination and the way I face the challenges of everyday life. In my adult life, my husband, Joe, is a huge inspiration to me. I am always amazed at the way he faces challenges. I tend to be more of a procrastinator when a giant task is looming in front of me. He tackles everything with a "You just have to start" attitude. I'm sure this comes from the enormous task every year of planting and harvesting. I have learned from him to just dig in and get started. The smallest steps will get me to the end goal.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring professional?
A: I would tell them to get involved in organizations that share their same interests. It is such a benefit to meet and learn from people with more experience and build connections with others in your similar profession. Go to workshops on new technology and be open to the ideas they present. Farming is ever changing.
Q: What’s been your secret to success?
A: Teamwork and friendships. My husband, son and I work together as a team. We all use our resources and strengths to make the farm the best it can be. There is also teamwork and friendships on a broader scale that happens in the community of farmers where I live. Farming a lot of land means you have a lot of neighbors. They must communicate to save water for irrigation without flooding another farmer and discuss and agree upon the crops they're planting so spraying doesn't harm a neighbor's crop. We also had many farm neighbors pitch in to help us move equipment and cattle during this most recent flood. Building relationships with your neighbors is important.