Women in Ag: Tracing Kayla Degner’s #RootsinBoots
If you find yourself driving through western Iowa, keep an eye out for the Degner Family Farm just west of Lytton, Iowa. You’ll see a picturesque farmstead with a red barn, bin site and cattle lots, and you’ll most likely be greeted by the aroma of freshly baked cookies from the kitchen inside the white house. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of their dogs, Pepper, Jake and Duke!
Kayla Degner’s #rootsinboots traces back to a family that has focused on working hard from farm chores to school or other activities. While growing up, she and her brother got involved in 4-H and FFA. Those groups allowed Kayla to see career opportunities in the ag industry. That led her to ISU where she wrote an agriculture magazine column, which ultimately lead to her to major in agricultural education-communication option.
I was small at this age, so my dad lead Kibbles [her 4-H steer] to weigh-in for the show ring, which was quite a walk from our trailer on a snowy, cold, wet March night. Not long after the walk started, my dad got drug through puddles and snow banks by Kibbles. Finally, Dad let go of the halter but he was covered in yuck from head to toe! We eventually caught her, and I showed her the next day with no problems.
Kayla vividly recalls falling asleep on the back window in the tractor with her dad during planting season. If they had a bottle calf or lamb, she named it immediately and gained a new best friend. Without preparation, she recited her bottle calves names and the reason for naming them: Ramona after the fictional book character; Rupert after her favorite “Survivor” character; Stinky from laying on an air freshener; and Oreo after the cookie.
Kayla learned many life lessons on the farm. Rule number one is obey your mom and dad. And when dad says, “come outside,” he means it!
Both of her parents, Dennis and Julie, positively impacted her career choice with their involvement in agriculture. Her dad taught her to never give up, and her mom taught her a good home cooked meal is the key during the busiest times on the farm.
Kayla recently accepted a full-time position in the ag industry as a communications specialist. She admits females in the ag industry often need determination and hard work to prove their worth. Kayla shares advice for any young person entering the agricultural industry: “Be ready for change because agriculture is an ever-changing industry.”