Meet Steph Essick, 2014 Midwest Farm Mom of the Year

StephsfamTraveling to the Windy City during the first week of December for the annual Executive Women in Ag (#EWA14) conference is my favorite getaway of the year – and it’s not just because we’re within walking distance of some of the best shopping in America. Honestly, I’ll bet more conference attendees tour the Chicago Board of Trade than visit the Miracle Mile as these female farm leaders are more concerned with financial statements than with fashion statements.

My favorite part of EWA is the opportunity to meet the women who are changing the face of agriculture… Women like April Hemmes, Jennie Schmidt, Nicole Yoder, Sally Hollis and Stephanie Essick.

“Stephanie exemplifies today’s farm mom!” wrote Sally Hollis in her nomination of Stephanie Essick as 2014 Farm Mom of the Year. “We’ve been family friends since birth, and Stephanie’s passion for farming excited me to join our family farm. She shares this passion with her Facebook page called ‘Life on an Iowa Farm’ and on Twitter @IAFarmLife. She educates the public, answers questions, addresses misconceptions from consumers, and shares amazing photos of daily family and farming life.”

A fourth generation farmer from Dickens in Northwest Iowa, Stephanie began farming full-time with her father upon earning her bachelor’s degree in 1999 from Iowa State University in Ag Business. Stephanie is key to her family farm’s success. In addition to managing the technology and doing the farm accounting, she plants and harvests corn and soybeans plus bales hay. Once the fall tillage is complete, Stephanie finalizes her input purchases for the following year’s crop.

“December is busy with bookwork and meetings plus delivering grain and hay,” says Stephanie. “We’re also planning for 2015 by buying inputs such as seed. The calendar fills up fast!”

In addition to being a full time farmer, Stephanie is active in the agriculture community. She is a volunteer spokesperson for CommonGround and communicates online to help others understand the importance of a healthy, abundant food supply. She also serves on the Iowa Soybean Association board of directors and has traveled to Mexico with ISA on a fact finding promotional mission. As a member of an Iowa Corn leadership group called I-Lead, Stephanie traveled to Japan and Taiwan on a market development and fact finding mission.

Stephanie also is involved in her local community. She and her husband chair the fellowship committee for their local church. She also volunteers to help with the Clay County Agricultural Breakfast and with commodity groups’ activities at the Clay County Fair.

“I make time to volunteer because I know how important it is for consumers to understand how their food is raised,” says Stephanie. “I want them to meet farmers like me who are proud of the crops they raise. I also want consumers to know that, just like them, I’m a wife and mother, too.”

Stephanie’s husband, Matt, works full time as an agronomist. Their son, who will turn 8 later this month, wants to grow up and become a farmer like his mom. In honor of his birthday, today Stephanie is sharing the recipe her son requested to take to school as birthday treats. This Iowa farm boy loves his Dirt Cups… with worms. After all, worms are a sign of healthy soils!

Dirt Cups



  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 1/2 packages of Oreos



  1. Place cookies in food processor and chop until fine crumbs.
  2. Place Oreo crumbs in a separate bowl and reserve for later.
  3. Put butter, cream cheese and sugar in food processor.
  4. Mix until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Pour the milk into a large bowl and add the pudding mixes.
  6. Whisk to combine.
  7. Fold in the whipped topping until combined.
  8. Stir in the cream cheese mixture.
  9. Arrange cookie crumbs, pudding mixture and gummy worms for assembly.
  10. Layer in a clear 9 ounce cup, starting with cookies then cream mixture.
  11. Repeat layers, ending with crumbs on top.
  12. Top with gummy worms.
  13. Chill until ready to serve.


For step-by-step directions, click here.