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Here is a reflection on perceptions in agriculture from my childhood to the start of my career.

Sierra Day, Field editor

May 24, 2021

2 Min Read
young Sierra Day caring for cattle
CATTLE SHOW: Ever since I can remember, I have been involved in our family farm, especially with the cattle. Courtesy of Cheryl Day

In the field or in the barn, women are a minority on our family operation. It’s not by design. It’s just how the cards were dealt.

But the adults taught my brother and me the same way.

Growing up, my grandfather, father and uncles taught my younger brother, Chayton, and me the same basic skills in crop production. On the cattle side, my mother did the same thing as the driving force behind our cattle operation. Yet somewhere along the line, my brother and I developed different passions for agriculture.

Most days, Chayton heads to the tractor, and I gravitate to the barn. It’s what we like, so it’s only natural. The result is that my mother and I are the reason Day Cattle Farm exists today. Still, all through my childhood, I’ve watched people at a cattle event ask for my father.

In some ways, I was fearless because my family raised me in a way that encouraged me to go after all my dreams regardless of my gender. When I entertained ideas of becoming a veterinarian, embryologist or ruminant nutritionist, they never batted an eye.

I started taking full reins of our herd management when I started high school in 2012. And while my relatives never second-guessed my involvement in agriculture, others did. Time and again, I encountered people looking for a man to talk to about our feed purchases, breeding decisions and more. Clearly, few people believed that a teenage girl was running our small cow-calf herd.

As I headed to college, I felt the perception of my role in agriculture start to change. I rarely encountered someone who questioned my participation in the industry, especially as an animal sciences student at Kansas State University. In fact, our professors encouraged women to be part of courses such as the bull sale class. They gave us the same opportunities as the guys to prepare bulls and females for sale pictures and videos as well as the sale.

Transitioning into my current role at Prairie Farmer, people are even more accepting of women in the industry. I am surrounded by coworkers who don’t see a young woman entering this role; instead, they see potential in another individual with enthusiasm to inform the backbone of agriculture.

We’re covering stories about women going back to run the family farm, establishing new Extension events and being a part of research studies.

And as I talk with Extension educators, scientists, agronomists and many other industry leaders, they never doubt my knowledge, passion and place in this industry. In fact, every interview feels like I’m back in the shop after a long day of planting or harvest, listening to my grandfather, father and uncles talk about what is happening around the farm.

And truly, that’s what agriculture is all about. Just a bunch of people working together to prosper the industry, no matter their gender.

Comments? Email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Sierra Day

Field editor, Farm Progress

A 10th-generation agriculturist, Sierra Day grew up alongside the Angus cattle, corn and soybeans on her family’s operation in Cerro Gordo, Ill. Although she spent an equal amount in farm machinery as she did in the cattle barn as a child, Day developed a bigger passion for the cattle side of the things.

An active member of organizations such as 4-H, FFA and the National Junior Angus Association, she was able to show Angus cattle on the local, state and national levels while participating in contests and leadership opportunities that were presented through these programs.

As Day got older, she began to understand the importance of transitioning from a member to a mentor for other youth in the industry. Thus, her professional and career focus is centered around educating agriculture producers and youth to aid in prospering the agriculture industry.

In 2018, she received her associate degree from Lake Land College, where her time was spent as an active member in clubs such as Ag Transfer club and PAS. A December 2020 graduate of Kansas State University in Animal Sciences & Industry and Agricultural Communications & Journalism, Day was active in Block & Bridle and Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow, while also serving as a communications student worker in the animal science department.

Day currently resides back home where she owns and operates Day Cattle Farm with her younger brother, Chayton. The duo strives to raise functional cattle that are show ring quality and a solid foundation for building anyone’s herd.

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