Growing up on their family's South Dakota farm, sisters Lara and Leah Rommereim developed a love for agriculture and respect for farmers and livestock producers. Like many other young people in South Dakota, they are combining their early experiences on the farm with education and internship opportunities to build their own career path in food and agriculture.
Lara and Leah are the daughters of Steve and Charlotte Rommereim. The Rommereims own and operate a fifth-generation, diversified livestock and crop farm a few miles outside of Alcester, South Dakota. They raise corn and soybeans, have a beef cow/calf herd, and raise pigs in a 2,400 head finishing barn. Pigs are raised in the climate controlled barn after they are weaned from sows.
The sisters both helped with farm work, including with corn and soybean harvest, managing yield comparison trials, feeding livestock and caring for pigs. After high school, both girls continue to help their dad during busy times of year.
We helped out wherever we could. Whether it was helping with calves or in the hog barn, mowing or during harvest, there was always something that needed to be done," Leah says.
The Rommereims were involved in 4-H from an early age, then also joined FFA in high school. They raised cattle and pigs throughout the year and showed them at fairs and took advantage of leadership opportunities in both 4-H and FFA programs.
Lara's experiences as an intern at Ag United for South Dakota and South Dakota Cattlemen's Association strengthened her decision to go into agriculture as a career. She is earning a degree in Ag Communications at South Dakota State University.
"Being able to work with people and my family that are passionate about the values and traditions of farmers and advocating for the farmer has influenced my choice of a degree," Lara says. "It also gave me an opportunity to learn different ways that I could be involved in the agriculture industry."
During her internship at Ag United, Lara coordinated summer open houses at dairy and pork farms, helped with Days Out tours that took moms and food industry professionals to farms, and worked on programs that helped connect South Dakota's farm and ranch families with consumers.
"I enjoyed talking to people who wanted to learn more about how their food is produced. As a farm girl, that is something I had taken for granted," she says.
Leah is a senior at South Dakota State University. She will graduate in December with degrees in Agriculture Leadership and Animal Science and a minor in Agricultural Business. She is active in several campus organizations, including serving as president of the SDSU Swine Club and playing on the women's rugby club. She has also attended the Agriculture Future of America Leaders Conference in Kansas City.
This summer, Leah completed a production internship with the Pipestone System. She worked in Pipestone barns in Pipestone, Minn., and Independence, Iowa, where she gained hands-on experience in all phases of raising swine, from how sows are cared for during gestation, then after piglets are born and cared for as they grow and mature.
"The internship really expanded my knowledge. Since our farm focuses on finishing pigs, I'd never worked with sows and nursery barns before," said Leah. "The experience helped me decide that I really want to work in the pork industry after graduation."
Leah also interned at Ag United, which gave her insights on how farmers can reach out to their communities to explain how they produce food and livestock.
"I improved my communications skills and working with other farm families only strengthened my passion for sharing information about what today's farmers do and why," she says.
Both Lara and Leah are excited about their opportunities after college graduation and look forward to careers that will help farm and ranch families succeed. They also see a bright future for agriculture in South Dakota.
"Whether it is returning to the family farm or taking a job in one of the many business that help the state's farmers succeed, it is an exciting time for young people who are passionate about farming and food production," Lara says.Source: Agriculture United for South Dakota