Day 15 of my 30 Days of Ag, “All Things Minnesota Agriculture” is Julie Tesch. Currently, Julie lives and works in Washington, DC but is originally from Waldorf, MN. Julie is the executive director of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. American Farm Bureau Foundation is the non-profit arm of the American Farm Bureau Federation, so she gets to focus all of her time on raising money and developing resources for agricultural literacy to be utilized by all consumers from youth to adult. Their mission is to build awareness, understanding and a positive public perception of Agriculture through education. I, for one, can attest to the need for agricultural literacy. Consumers are disconnected from agricultural and the people who grow their food and anything we can do to close that gap is important.
Julie grew up on her family’s dairy farm outside of Waldorf, MN and she’s always known that she wanted a career in agriculture. While dairy farming wasn’t in her future, she knew that she wanted to give back to a community that has given me so much. She started my career as a 4-H Youth Development Educator in Waseca & Steele Counties and then moved on to be the executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council. Most recently, she lived in Indianapolis as the executive director of the National FFA Alumni Association and then moved to Washington, DC a year ago to work for American Farm Bureau. Her whole career has been in agriculture, and will continue to be about agriculture.
Social Media Sites:
My American Farm: www.myamericanfarm.org
Tell me a little about what you grow/raise/produce/or service provided.
“The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture provides accurate resources for the public to utilize in classrooms and at home. We have numerous resources that are too long to list here, but we are most proud of our My American Farm on-line gaming platform. My American Farm is a free resource created for children, teachers and families to learn about agriculture while also meeting national standards in science, math and English. There are 19 games that are fun and educational and so far we have reached over 17 million people with our games. We are also proud to have a database of over 500 accurate agricultural children’s books as well as teacher resources that volunteers can use in the classroom. We strive to have resources for several types of learners.”
Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?
“We provide services to our Farm Bureau members who serve as volunteers in their communities, as well as any consumer who would like to utilize our resources. Our goal is to have our resources in as many places as possible from classrooms to grocery stores to fairs. Our end consumer is anybody wanting to gain accurate knowledge about agriculture.”
What do you love most about farming/business?
Being involved in agriculture boils down to family tradition and community for me. I didn’t just choose agriculture as a major in college, I chose the agricultural way of life which involves community and appreciation for hard work. The work that everyone in agriculture does is authentic work. We do it because we love it. Through the years I’ve learned that not many people get the chance to have their work be authentic and help the common good. Agriculture is the most rewarding career out there.
If you were the “Ag King” for a day, you would __________________.
“Magically make consumers appreciate the hard work and dedication that farmers put into creating the world’s best food, fiber and energy. Also, I would stop the feuding between different types of production practices in agriculture. There is room for all of us and people appreciate and are willing to pay to have choices in the grocery store aisle.“
What is one interesting thing no one probably knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?
“Anybody, not just Farm Bureau members, can utilize our resources. We have numerous county and state fairs utilizing our resources, as well as schools in Los Angeles and other urban areas. Anybody who would like fun and accurate materials to help students learn about agriculture are welcome to utilize our resources.”
What is your favorite Minnesota location or a fun thing to do in Minnesota?
I can’t limit it to just one place! My favorite place is our family’s farm outside of Waldorf. I am most at peace on the farm with my family. Second favorite place is the Minnesota State Fair. It combines all my favorite things, agriculture, friends, family and food. Third favorite place is the Waseca County Fair. I grew up showing registered Holsteins at the Waseca County Fair and some of my best friends and memories came from the fair and my involvement in 4-H.
What makes Minnesota unique?
“Having lived away from Minnesota for a few years now I can say a few things:
- We definitely have an accent, and I’m proud of it!
- Hotdish is not a universal dish. Still can’t call it a casserole.
- Minnesotan’s and anybody in the upper Midwest truly are the nicest people in the country.
- The winter and how Minnesotan’s deal with it is unique. Trust me, here in Washington, DC they can’t handle the cold and snow.”
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“I wouldn’t be successful today if it weren’t for the agricultural community in Minnesota. There is so much support through mentoring and unique opportunities across the state. While I may not currently be living and working in Minnesota, I look forward to returning in the future and living in some wide open spaces.”