Women in Ag: Tracing Jessica Faust’s #RootsinBoots
The sun is peaking over the horizon in Winterset, Iowa, on a clear summer morning. Dew sticks to the green grass as a girl takes her show calf out of the barn for its daily walk. The morning air is cool. There is a stillness in the countryside. Most people haven’t yet gotten out of bed, but Jessica Faust was up before dawn to prepare for another day on her family’s row crop, beef and hog farm.
Jessica is the fourth generation to grow up on her family’s southwest Iowa farm. When she graduated from high school, however, she never imagined she would pursue a career in agriculture. “I always thought I’d be an accountant or a teacher because I never really knew about the opportunities outside of farming,” said Jessica. After playing soccer for one year and being on the dance team for two years at Iowa Central College, she still didn’t know what she wanted to do. She finally decided to continue her education at Iowa State University, majoring in Genetics. Her adventure at Iowa State has been a winding one, but she eventually found her true calling in Animal Science specializing in Genetics and Beef Science.
During New Initiate meeting with the Block and Bridle Club, Jessica recalls hearing successful seniors stand up and tell the room of freshmen and transfer students that someday they could be executive team members with a handful of glamorous internship experiences. Jessica doubted those statements. Looking back, she says she wishes she would stepped outside her comfort zone earlier.
“Doing things I never thought I would do made me realize how much my negative thoughts had been holding me back,” says Jessica. “I was my own worst enemy!”
She applied her work ethic, borne from her childhood on the farm, to involvement in campus clubs.
“I don’t talk a lot if I don’t know you, so getting involved was a great way for me to be able to connect with people,” says Jessica. “I never thought I’d even apply for an officer position, let alone get positions in two clubs.” Jessica is serving as the secretary of the Delta chapter of Sigma Alpha professional agriculture sorority and as Block and Bridle treasurer.
After graduating from ISU in December 2016, Jessica plans to pursue a career in cattle reproduction while building up capital to start her own beef and row crop operation. As she’s making decisions about her future, she’s taking her own advice. She’s not going to be afraid to apply for jobs for which she doesn’t fit every requirement. And she’s not going to let the fact that she’s a young female stop her from accomplishing her goals.
Women in agriculture have a lot of hurdles to overcome and prove their capability. At a previous internship, Jessica had to prove her competence in driving cattle in order for her male colleagues to feel comfortable with having a female drive cattle. By the end of her internship, she had convinced her employers not only of her competence with handling cattle, but also her talent. “I grew up with two sisters. Gender, size or strength was never an excuse on our farm,” said Jessica. “Dad needed help, and at the end of the day, the work needed to get done one way or another.”
“There’s a long way to go for women in agriculture to get rid of that stereotype,” says Jessica. “At the same time, it makes me proud to be a female. I’m proud of who I am and how I was raised. And I’m excited about my future as a FarmHer!”
Find more inspiring #RootsinBoots stories below:
- Women in Ag: Tracing Amy Rohe’s #RootsinBoots
- Women in Ag: Tracing Kilah Hemesath’s #RootsinBoots
- Women in Ag: Tracing Jenna Braun’s #RootsinBoots
- Women in Ag: Tracing Ali Luety’s #RootsinBoots
Without strong women to help shape and manage our company, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds would be a very different company than it is today. We understand the key roles women play in everything from purchasing seed to marketing grain, from public relations and event planning to sales and customer service. That’s why we’re celebrating women who are doing what they love. From now through November we’ll be showcasing women in agriculture by telling their #RootsinBoots stories. Follow along and be inspired by FarmHers across Iowa!