2020 is a Year of Milestones for Jenna Ricklefs
While many people focus on the challenges faced throughout 2020, this year has provided Jenna (Braun) Ricklefs of Rolfe, Iowa, with many reasons to celebrate. This year marks the fifth anniversary of Jenna starting her own successful Latham® and Ag Spectrum dealerships. She and her husband, Jon, will celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary in November. Their son, Levi, celebrated his first birthday on June 21.
What is this 30-year-old’s secret to getting it all done?
“Being organized is key,” says Jenna, who just wrapped up the 2020 harvest season. “Before harvest started, I bought a lot of groceries. I made meals and put them in the freezer.”
Jenna also has learned to “put her ask in order.”
“It is very true when people say raising a child takes an army. I called on people for help during harvest. I hated having to ask for help, but I couldn’t have done it without any of my friends and family!” says Jenna. “My mom was a saint, helping with Levi. On the days that Jon and I would need to take Levi with us to the field, we packed lots of snacks and toys. We took turns having him ride either in the grain cart or combine. He took an afternoon nap in the combine. Then someone would take over for me at night, so I could take Levi home for supper and enjoy some time playing with him before tucking him in. He kept his bath time and bedtime routine.”
Jenna and Jon work as a team, helping one another around the farm and with their respective businesses. Jon helps Jenna put in seed plots and sign fields when he can. In addition to farming, Jon also has a painting and autobody business.
“I love getting to work with my husband and having a seed dealership provides me with great flexibility,” says Jenna, who graduated in 2013 with a degree in Agronomy from South Dakota State University. She worked two years as a field sales agronomist a local co-op before starting her own business.
The Ag Spectrum and Latham dealerships really complement each other, says Jenna. She helps her customers by providing farmers provide a whole production environment for growing a healthy crop. She takes soil samples and writes crop plans. She also conducts on-farm test plots.
“I like that I can work but be around the farm when someone needs me,” says Jenna. “I can provide a service for my customers, make an income, yet help my family when they need it.”
Some days are long, but Jenna would not trade these days for anything.
“Now Levi notices trucks and tractors. I just love to watch him and wonder what he’s thinking when he’s looking at a book or destroying my kitchen by pulling everything out of the drawers!” she says. “Levi isn’t afraid of anyone or anything. He’s so friendly. Even though he isn’t speaking words yet, he will have a very detailed conversation with anyone! He’s my best little man and is always here to keep my company and cheer me up.”
Jenna encourages young women in agriculture to work hard for what they want.
“Don’t let the status quo intimidate you,” she says. “If it’s something you are passionate about, don’t get scared or doubt yourself. Take a leap of faith and go for it!”
With harvest complete, Jenna is turning her attention to finalizing crop plans and writing her customers’ seed orders. She looks forward to slowing down a bit and enjoy more family meals together. Today she is sharing with us a recipe for one of her favorite comfort meals.
Ritz Chicken Casserole
- 4 to 6 chicken breasts (boiled)
- 2 small cans of cream of chicken soup (or cream of mushroom)
- 1, 8-oz tub of sour cream
- 2 packages of Ritz crackers (crushed)
- 1½ sticks butter (can use less depending on size of dish.)
- Boil chicken until done; break chicken up into a casserole dish.
- Mix soup and sour cream together; add chicken and mix.
- Pour into greased baking dish; sprinkle crushed crackers over top.
- Melt butter and drizzle over top of crackers.
- Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes, until bubbly.