It all started when two young, farm kids fell in love in high school. My dad, Dennis, started farming in the late 1980’s in rural Sac and Calhoun counties. Julie, my mom, went to college to become a school teacher. They were united in marriage in 1988 and had my brother, Wesley in 1991. I arrived a couple of years later on a hot, summer day. I was daddy’s little farm girl from the start. I remember helping him feed the livestock, barely tall enough to reach the fence.

I vividly recall falling asleep in the tractor with my dad during planting season lying in the back window. If we had a bottle calf or lamb, I named it and that little creature became my best friend. I can remember my bottle calves like it was yesterday, Ramona after the fictional book character, Rupert after my favorite Survivor character, Stinky from laying on an air freshener, and Oreo after the cookie. I learned many life lessons on the farm; obey your mom and dad and when dad says come outside he means it! Any farm kid will understand those lessons.

Our farm is located just west of Lytton, Iowa. If you take a quick glance at our farm you’ll notice a red barn, machine shed, white house, small buildings, grain bins and cattle lots all surrounded by Iowa’s beautiful farmland. If you are lucky you might even catch a glimpse of our dogs, Pepper, Jake and Duke.

After I was able to join 4-H, a youth organization to promote agriculture, my summers were filled with preparing projects for county and state fairs. I took part in building exhibits such as baking goodies and building home improvement projects. I also showed sheep and cattle. Once I was in high school, I joined FFA another youth organization. I had a great advisor that cared for every member and he truly gave me so many opportunities to succeed. Throughout FFA I held positions as President and Secretary and attained my Iowa FFA Degree. In my opinion, youth today need to get involved in these two remarkable organizations. I graduated from high school last May with a future of agriculture in my sights.

I am currently attending Iowa State University majoring in Agriculture Education and Life Sciences with the Communication Option. At ISU, I stay busy with various clubs and organizations. So far my favorite organization is the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassadors. Through this I am able to support and promote for the college. I have a passion for agriculture and want to advocate for the agriculture industry. Particularly, I want to reach out to the youth because they play an important part in the future of this growing industry.

When I look back at my years on the farm, many memories surround me. The countless hours of picking up rocks, planting trees, taking food to the men in the field, mowing, raising and showing cattle and sheep, and running the grain-cart come to mind. I would not trade being raised on a farm for the world. Growing up as a farm kid is the best gift I could have ever received.

Kayla Degner was born and raised in rural Lytton, IA on a diversified grain and livestock family farm. She graduated from Rockwell City-Lytton in May 2012 and currently attends Iowa State University studying Agricultural Communications. Her past involved many agriculture venues. Kayla has a strong interest in advocating to the youth involved in agriculture.

Contact her at [email protected].