Tag Archives: National Ag Day

National Ag Week, 2015: Why are you involved in agriculture?

This week is National Ag Week, with a big celebration today for National Ag Day.  Our Iowa Turkey Federation board members are devoted to agriculture, whether they are active on the farm, or part of an allied company that works with farmers.

We asked a few of them why they’re involved in agriculture and their answers speak for themselves.  From a family heritage of farming, to a love of problem solving, agriculture offers opportunities for people to do what they love and focus on their values every single day.

IMG_9451Russ Yoder, Vice President of the Iowa Turkey Federation and farmer

It leads back to family heritage.  My Grandpa started raising turkeys back in ‘36 and, it’s just so fun to look back over history to see how far we’ve come and where we’re going. I just really enjoy being part of the family farm and look forward to passing it down to my children.”


Ross Thoreson, President of the Iowa Turkey Federation, Midwest Sales Representative for Best Veterinary Solutions

I grew up on a turkey farm, but never really thought I’d stay in agriculture. When I was on the turkey farm growing up, I paid about as little attention to that as I possibly could.  I went to college, into something completely different, but decided to come back and get involved with the family business, and it’s been the best move I’ve ever made and have enjoyed it ever since. I extremely enjoy the people I get to be with on a daily basis.  It’s a great industry to be in.”

Gerald & Sandy Lessard 2010 NTF

Gerald Lessard, Vice President and COO of West Liberty Foods

I’m involved in agriculture because I enjoy advancing solutions against challenges. And agriculture as a whole is very challenging.  It doesn’t matter if you’re working with livestock every day or you’re a row crop farmer or a journalist or a banker, every day’s a different challenge.  And I appreciate the fact that solutions can be advanced towards agriculture.  There’s a lot of attention to detail in agriculture that I don’t think the normal public understands, whether it’s in manufacturing or providing food foreverybody’s table.  It’s the challenges – that’s why I stay in agriculture.

IMG_9474Sheila Larson, ITF Membership Services, Turkey Farmer

I had no plans to return to the farm. I was bound and determined I would NOT marry a farmer, but – I married a farmer. I would say the greatest part of agriculture, even though I’m not in the turkey barns every day or seeing with animals every day, is that you can be involved in agriculture in so many different ways.  It’s not set in stone you have to do this, that or the other, there are a lot of opportunities.


Lynn and Animal Ag Alliance President & CEO Kay Johnson Smith
Lynn and Animal Ag Alliance President & CEO Kay Johnson Smith

Lynn Schable, Tyson Foods

I’ve been with Hillshire (now Tyson) for 20 years, and what I enjoy looking at is the whole gamut.  From the time those turkeys are placed in the barn and all the things that have to happen to make that work, all the way to getting the food into the consumer’s plate.  It’s a very interesting, complex and dynamic process.  And there’s so much that happens from Day 1 to get the meat to the consumer…I just think it’s a fascinating industry.


tim kasingerTim Kasinger, Valley of the Moon Commercial Poults

I started on a farm, a dairy farm, and did that for a few years when I got out of high school.  After college, an agricultural company was hiring and my dad said, “Go work for them, you’ll move up fast.”  (I didn’t.)  But, of all the jobs I know, agriculture is the only one where you’re rewarded for hard work.  It’s the only one. Everything else, politics come in to play and to a certain extent, that’s probably true in our industry as well.  But if you work hard and do your job in agriculture, you’ll be rewarded.  It’s the greatest job there is.