Tag: FFA

Women in Ag: Fourth Generation Rancher, Sarah Helmick

Sarah Butler Helmick, was born and raised in Bliss on her family’s 4th generation purebred Angus ranch. Growing up, she was active in 4-H and FFA as well as the Idaho Junior Angus Association and the National Junior Angus Association. Sarah attended Casper College on a livestock judging scholarship and eventually became a 3rd generation University of Idaho Vandal, where she received a degree in Agriculture Science, Leadership and Communication. She is currently teaching Agriculture at Bliss High School. She and her husband, Chad, live and work on his family’s cow-calf and farming operation in Bliss where they develop the heifer calves through breeding and farm.

How are you involved in agriculture today? I am currently teaching Ag to students in Bliss, grades 7th-12th, and I also serve as the FFA advisor. My job has taught me just how removed our consumers are from the agriculture industry, even in a rural town! I try every day to help educate our youth about the agriculture industry and shed light onto any question they may have. I’m also co-advisor of the Idaho Junior Angus Association. My husband works alongside his parents on their cow-calf operation that spans from Mayfield to Bliss, and manages all of the farming. When I am not teaching or coaching an FFA team, I enjoy helping the family with whatever tasks that need done, whether it is putting up fence in the spring, feeding heifers, or my favorite, helping wean and bring cow’s home from the mountain. I have even been known to change a pesky wheel line (not my favorite job!) Also, as often as I can (and not near often enough) I help my parents at Spring Cove Ranch. My parents still manage a few cows of mine and I like to help them whenever I can. I enjoy helping my dad and brother sort through the bulls in preparation for our annual bull sale and helping mom with the bookwork.

How has your life been shaped by agriculture? Like most of the women featured, I was born into an agriculture family. I am the 4th generation to be involved in Spring Cove Ranch and I am very proud of that! Both sides of my family were very active in the agriculture industry, raising cattle and involved in organizations such as 4-H, Soil Conservation, Idaho Cattle Association and so on. This led to my passion for the 4-H and FFA programs. I am currently a leader in the 4-H program and enjoy helping young members get started in our industry. Growing up, I knew I would always want be involved in agriculture. My parents gave me my first registered heifer in 1993, Spring Cove Violet. From that one cow, my herd grew and so did my love for the beef industry. Being involved in the cattle business also taught me a lot about life. I learned skills that I know most kids these days are missing. I learned about life and death, success and failure. I learned about hard work and responsibility. This sort of “reality check” came early in life and shaped me into the person I am today.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? There are many people that inspire me on a daily basis. I have learned so much from my parents and am so grateful for them. They have pushed me to be the best version of myself, and because of them, I was able to grow up the best way possible—outside, and around Angus cattle! At a young age they instilled in me the importance of a good education and hard work; two aspects of life I haven’t forgotten. Their resilience and knowledge impresses me every day. As most people who know my family would tell you, I come from a long line of strong, independent women. Another inspiration to me was my great grandmother, Dorothy Agee. She married at 17 and moved to a ranch in the Middle of Nowhere, Nevada, where she raised cows and kids. She taught me lessons that I didn’t truly understand until I got married last year. Her advice on raising…errr…I mean… loving a husband is something I will forever cherish.

Chad and Sarah will be celebrating their first year of marriage this coming Sunday!

Chad and Sarah will be celebrating their first year of marriage this coming Sunday!

How do you provide encouragement to others? I always try to look on the bright side of things. I try to encourage my students to push themselves beyond their limits. A lot of the time, they don’t think they can do something, because no one around them ever has. For that reason, I try to encourage students to envision themselves being successful, and am the first to let them know that I believe in them. If we all tried our hardest, we would all be amazed at what we could achieve!

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? I would LOVE the chance to show people what happens on the day-to-day happenings of a ranch. I truly think anyone who spends a day on the ranch with my father would immediately understand that we care for our cattle and the land. My dad’s passion for his cows and the land is contagious. I think that would help open their eyes to the fact that this industry is full of families, just like mine, who are committed to caring for the land. Idaho ranchers are true conservationists! We want the best for our livestock, and our land, and would never do anything to jeopardize the safety or health of either.

What are you most thankful for? I am thankful for my hardworking, loving husband who shares the same passion for the cattle industry as I do. I am thankful for my amazing family and friends. I am thankful for a school full of students who always keep me on my toes! And I am thankful for Idaho ranchers who care for our beautiful state while producing a delicious and nutritious product for the world!

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? Man, this has been a challenge for me! Growing up I would rather be outside helping dad than be inside cooking with mom. So needless to say, my husband has been a wonderfully patient guinea pig!  Thankfully with my genetics, there is no way I can be a bad cook—luckily I’m getting better by the day! I have found some great go-to recipes and my favorite would have to be The Pioneer Woman’s Sour Cream Noodle Bake. It’s delicious and easy to feed a crowd!

Sarah is very close with her parents, Stacey and Art, and tries to help them on the ranch as much as possible.

Sarah is very close with her parents, Stacey and Art, and tries to help them on the ranch as much as possible.

What is your favorite childhood memory? My favorite childhood memory is helping my dad AI cows on one of our Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allotments. We would set up a mobile breeding box every spring on a BLM allotment adjacent to the ranch. I would help him ride the range looking for cows that were showing signs of heat, then trail them back to the chute to be bred. I loved spending the time with my dad and learning about everything from the reproduction cycle of a cow to the history of the land. And it was a real treat when dad would find a horny toad to bring home and put in the aquarium (they never lasted long for some reason….)

What are some of your favorite pastimes and/or hobbies? Spending time with family is my favorite pastime. I have the cutest three nephews. My oldest nephew starts 4-H this year and our whole family is pretty excited to watch the next generation begin their career. I enjoy watching the junior shows around the state and our county fair and cannot wait to watch Wyatt this summer!

I also love exploring new places with my husband. Whether we are 20 miles from home on a Sunday drive or Mesa Verde National Park on our honeymoon, I love seeing new places and he is my favorite adventure buddy!

What is your favorite place to visit? I have always loved to travel. Growing up most of our family “vacations” were to deliver bulls, pick up a new herd sire, or dragging my steers and heifers to a junior show. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I enjoy exploring new country where ever that might be. However, after growing up and moving away from home and moving back again, I have found my favorite place to visit now is HOME. Spring Cove Ranch is the most beautiful place on earth and will always be my favorite spot to visit.

Be sure to keep up with Sarah’s daily life, by following her on Facebook and Instagram!

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life

Women in Ag: Small Town Superwoman, Jodie Mink

Jodie Lanting Mink grew up on a family farm and ranch south of Hollister, Idaho, with her parents, brother and sister, as well as aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. She always felt comfortable working cattle and learning from anyone that was willing to share. She participated in 4-H for 10 years, taking steers and heifers to the Twin Falls County Fair, a place where her family is still known for having some of the best stock. Jodie attended the University of Idaho, graduating with an Animal Science/Agribusiness degree, with minors in public relations and communications and began a master’s degree program in Agricultural Economics. Jodie and her husband, Justin, were married shortly thereafter, and in 2005 moved back to his family’s ranch in Cambridge. Together they have three sons, Jayden (15), Jarret (12), and Jace (8).

How are you involved in agriculture and/or beef industry today?  My involvement in the beef industry has many different aspects. I briefly worked as an educational outreach coordinator for the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission before taking a full-time job with the Cambridge School District as the agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor. I see 95 percent of the students enrolled in Cambridge High School in one of my agricultural classes every day! The opportunity to reach these students and educate them about the beef industry and agriculture is an honor. I also assist on my husband’s family ranch, Mink Land and Livestock. My heart is content when my entire family is able to work alongside each other riding, packing salt, putting up drift fence or stacking hay. My role on the ranch is also to provide outside income. My father-in-law Russell Mink once commented that the ranch has success because the wives bring in outside income. My mother-in-law Peggy Mink and I both take comfort in knowing that our jobs outside of the ranch help to keep this multi-generational ranch moving forward. Educating my own kids, as well as my students at school about their role in the use of natural resources, the production of a safe and quality protein source, as well as their responsibility in the conservation and management of the land for sustainability for years to come is my true passion in life.

How has your life been shaped by agriculture and/or beef industry? I remember from early age learning from my parents, Bob and Rhea Lanting, about the importance of animal husbandry, how to make hard decisions, the results of hard work, and ultimately that my life would always include this lifestyle. My parents often laugh about why my sister and I both married into family ranches that often include few vacations and long hours. I guess the answer to that question is best summed up by saying….What other job do you get to see nature in its ultimate beauty, work with hardworking, honest people who have similar visions, as well as work side-by-side with your family daily to provide food for a growing nation? I hope that I also can pass along that inborn love of agriculture to my three boys.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? My FFA students and my own kids inspire me. I have learned that if I provide the tools and resources and create a learning atmosphere that is engaging, there is no limit to the successes that my students will experience. They motivate me every day to be a better Ag teacher. To see my FFA students walk across the state at both the state and national events proves that small agricultural communities are producing the future leaders for our industry. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Jodie credits her students and FFA chapter members, as being one of her life's biggest motivations.

Jodie credits her students and FFA chapter members, as being one of her life’s biggest motivations.

I have two mentors that I currently use to “check” my ideas, and realign my focus. Julie Kerner and Pam Schwenkfelder are two women that I so admire. Their love and relentless time spent working toward the betterment of our beef industry is admirable. I often look to them for leadership, help with balancing family and ranch responsibilities, as well as the importance of being a productive member in the community. They might not know that I am watching their actions, but I find both of them to be strong leaders in our industry, thus I try to emulate these qualities in my daily life.

How do you provide encouragement to others?  I hope to provide encouragement for others by providing enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious. If I am able to simply provide the initial excitement, others buy-in quickly. About eight years ago, I was contacted about starting a Progressive Agricultural Farm Safety Day for youth in our area. At first it was difficult to get the key community members on board. But with some persistence, our Cambridge Ag Safety day is a highlight in our community. This year we topped almost 100 participants and 60 volunteers. Because of that awesome turnout, I actually did very little for this huge event. Everyone in the community is now vested in this wonderful program and comes together to provide the education and resources for it. That all started with an idea and a little enthusiasm.

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? We need to share the stories of family ranches. People that are purchasing our product need to make those connections to our Idaho beef families, the role we play in caring for the land, and the mission we have as key components in communities around Idaho is essential.

During last week's Idaho Vandal football game, the Mink family was named CHS Farm Family of the Year!

During last week’s Idaho Vandal football game, the Mink family was named CHS Farm Family of the Year!   Photo credit: Autumn Lynn Photography

What are you most thankful for? I am most thankful for my family, my friends, my students, and the agricultural community I live in. In August of this year a spiteful mosquito gave me the West Nile virus, which led to viral meningitis. My inability to teach school or even take care of my family’s needs has truly opened my eyes to the importance of relationships. The Cambridge and Midvale communities have helped me and my family extensively. Small agricultural communities are the true heartbeat of our nation. Relying on neighbors and assisting others when needed is ultimately the reason Justin and I have chosen to raise our children in this community. I am thankful for a wonderful rural school that allows individual growth with an enormous amount of agricultural-influenced curriculum. I am looking forward to getting back to school in January, and assisting my husband on the ranch. As much as this illness has frustrated me, I am thankful for the life lessons in humility, patience and setting priorities.

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? I love my Crock-pot and my Traeger grill. Nothing beats a tender roast with potatoes and carrots after a long day. My kids love hamburger pizzas on the grill. Using a simple pizza dough recipe, I grill individual sized rounds on the grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. I then allow the kids to individualize their pizza. Favorite toppings include hamburger, olives, tomatoes, artichokes, spinach, and mushrooms. After topping with cheese, they go back on the grill for another 3-4 minutes to melt everything to perfection! They are an absolute favorite.

What is the first thing you do when you walk into a grocery store? The first thing I do when I walk into the grocery store is to make sure that my kids and husband are not with me! I am a very organized person and attack the grocery store with a plan. I only shop in a larger grocery store every 2-3 months, so it’s also essential that my large white cooler is loaded in the car! My local community grocery store provides all the weekly needs!

The Mink family celebrates the success of their kids, after a local fair.

The Mink family celebrates the success of their kids, after a local fair.

What are some of your favorite pastimes and/or hobbies? I LOVE sports! I enjoy all aspects of sports, especially watching my kids participate in football, basketball and baseball. I am a little bit competitive and often get excited at games, so my husband often selects a seat away from me! I also enjoy taking pictures and entertaining family and friends in our home.

What are three little known facts about you? 1) I am a Vandal through and through. I used to have duct tape in my classroom that I would use to cover up logos and names of that “other” university on students’ shirts and sweatshirts. 2) I really don’t like chocolate, but I do love salt water taffy. 3) I love to write little notes to everyone. My kids and students might find them stuck in their book, slid into their locker, or handed to them before an important contest or game. Many of my FFA students keep these notes of encouragement in their FFA jackets. One student told me that when she is having a bad day, she pulls out all her notes and finds new inspiration.

Be sure to keep up with Jodie, by following her on Facebook, or by following the Weiser River Cattle Association!

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life

4-H and FFA: programs for all youth

4-H logoI grew up a farm kid in the rural Midwest, and was an active 4-H member. We had a great program, which rivaled others in the state for the quality. I credit so much of my success today, both personally and professionally because of what I learned in 4-H. It included life lessons like it’s probably not a good idea to hit your horse at the end of a showmanship pattern to get her to move (went from winning the class to a white ribbon), making life-long friendships (people from across the country I still love to visit with), and honing valuable skills (cooking, sewing, taking care of an animal, managing money and time, giving to others…the list goes on).


One of my county 4-H fair steers, 1995.


4-H gave me lots of experience in public speaking, 1994.


Our daughter’s first county fair 4-H steer, 2012.

I am thankful for our county 4-H agent and the countless hours he spent teaching us kids, and hauling us to different shows and contests. In fact, it was a sad day in our county when he decided to retire. I watched and earned from the older members and, in turn, shared my knowledge with others as well. I’m also grateful for my parents and all the other parent volunteers who guided me along the way.

Some of my greatest childhood memories happened because of 4-H. My mom loves to remind me of how I would immediately fall asleep in the truck while she drove me to/from horse shows. I like to remember that time together also gave us a chance for lots of conversation. Either way, thanks for driving, Mom! I’m excited to share the 4-H experience with my own kids as well and looking forward to making new memories with them.

So in honor of National 4-H Week (Oct. 7-11, 2014), I [continue] to pledge my head to greater thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.

Another youth progrFFA logoam creating leaders across the country is FFA. Now the high school I attended didn’t have an FFA chapter, so I didn’t get to experience that program myself, but I know many past and current members. And because I wasn’t a member, I had never heard the FFA Creed. Well, that is until the other night.

I heard it given by an FFA member practicing for his national contest, and I was totally blown away. (In fact, it was the inspiration for this post.) For one, his delivery was articulate and engaging. And two, the words of the FFA creed give us a powerful message about self sufficiency, pride in ourselves, helping others, our work as agriculturists and the promise of tomorrow. So whether you are an aggie or not, I believe these are words that anyone can live by. Best of luck to those youth traveling to the National FFA Convention (Oct. 29-Nov. 1, 2014)

FFA Creed

I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.

I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.

I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of progressive agriculturists to serve our own and the public interest in producing and marketing the product of our toil.

I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining; in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so—for others as well as myself; in less need for charity and more of it when needed; in being happy myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends upon me.

I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.

The creed was written by E. M. Tiffany, and adopted at the 3rd National Convention of the FFA. It was revised at the 38th Convention and the 63rd Convention.

Did you know? A Few 4-H and FFA Stats

4-H Membership:
• 70% Caucasian, 15% African American, 12% Hispanic, 2% Asian or Pacific Islander
• 2% American Indian or Alaskan
• 57% of 4-H members are from large inner cities, larger cities and their suburbs.
• 43% of 4-H members are from rural areas and towns with populations of 10,000 or less.
4-H meets the needs of youth. Number of youth enrolled in projects in these major areas include:
• 3,724,625 plants and animals
• 2,364,989 healthy lifestyle education
• 1,811,719 personal development and leadership
• 1,535,386 science and technology
• 1,250,635 environmental education and earth sciences
• 1,052,859 communications and expressive arts
• 680,425 citizenship and civic education
• 495,078 consumer and family sciences

FFA Membership:
• 67% of FFA membership is White; 22% is Hispanic/Latino; 8% is Black/African-American or American Indian; and 3% Asian, Pacific Islander or two or more races.
• FFA chapters are in 18 of the 20 largest U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.
• 92% of FFA chapters offer agriscience; 71% offer advanced agriscience and biotechnology; 59% offer agricultural mechanics; 49% offer horticulture; 43% offer animal science; and 24% offer environment-related.

4-H and FFA are not just for those in agriculture, but any youth wanting to gain valuable life skills.

~ Maggie

Categories: Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch kids, Ranch Life