I grew up on a farm two and a half miles from any civilization in Northwest Iowa. Pure amazing farmland and country. My childhood was so wholesome, it’s almost too good to be true. At the time I was annoyed by it because I was 15 miles from my friends. In hindsight I can see how good that was for me — in keeping me out of trouble.
I worked at the Pamida store in Hawarden, a few summers I worked at the Hudson gas station. I’d pump gas, check tires, clean windshields. And of course corn de-tasseling and walking beans – I don’t know any farm kid that didn’t.
Tassles are pollination. Farmers have to clear out the corn that they don’t want to pollinate. So we’d pull all the tassels off the top of the stalks, in July, when it’s stinking hot and humid. We would wear garbage bags in the morning because the leaves would be so wet you’d get soaked walking through. But by the afternoon, in the heat of day, you’d take that garbage bag off and the leaves would just slice your arms. And of course you’re just sunburned.
Going from a class of 50 to a town of 10,000 or so to a big state university, that was a new phase. I was studying art but my mom wanted me to get a teaching certificate. Through the art program, I started to get more exposure to more diversity of culture. This was a critical time when I started to open up my view of the world.
My husband and I had an opportunity to move to Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area. That’s where I really started to feel like I get what’s happening in our country and the world.
I remember living in California, and we had this enormous giant trash bin for recyclables and our non-recyclable bin was tiny. Whether you wanted to be that way or not, you were kind of steered in to it. Here, we’re catching up to it but we still have so much more we can do. I try to teach our girls to have environmentally-positive habits.
A pivotal moment was when my daughter was born. And now there were three of us. You know how your kids turn your life upside down. We were out there pretty much by ourselves for seven years, even though we had great friends. My heart was pulling me back home.
Ag is at the core of what’s going on in the Midwest. But you know, with ethanol, we’re a significant energy producer.
The Midwest isn’t a bunch of scam artists out here. We’re good, solid, hard-working people. That’s what gets my goat a little bit. There’s no evidence that those of us in the Midwest — the business people, the farmers, regular, hardworking people — that we’re trying to pull something over on people in the city. I want us to be trusted when we share this with our families and friends and the rest of the country.
It matters to us, so we know about it. We see the value and benefits of ag and ethanol and we know what it is for the rest of our country, but the rest of our country does not – even though they need it, depend on it and use it.
It’s not malicious or intentional that they don’t always understand or support it.
Knowing more about the virtues of ethanol from an environmental perspective has kind of made me more conscious in my other choices.
The thing is, it’s infinite. And we need to find as many ways as we can to replace finite resources, whether it’s oil or natural gas, it’s still finite. It’s going to run out. As a mother, it’s something I think about for my kids.