Recently, I attended the Country Woman of the Year awards luncheon in Bismarck as one of the sponsors. As I sat through the luncheon and listened to what these rural women do during their days and nights out in these rural areas, it made me tired just to think about doing half of the activities they are doing!
These women – Marie Ackerman – Elgin, Terri Haberstroh – Sarles, Katie Kassian – Regan, Katherine Plesner – Verona, Leann Schafer – New Rockford, and Diane Swenson – Lakota were nominated by family, friends and people in their community for all of the activities they do to make a community a community.
I think the biggest compliment they could receive was to be nominated and recognized for their work ethic by people who actually know them quite well and, obviously, recognize they do things daily to make life better for their family and for their communities. All of them were well represented by family and people from their cities and communities there to give them their support. I felt like I had been wasting half of my time in my life on stuff like sleep and relaxing after I listened to the on-going list of activities these women do every day.
The key-note speaker, Dr. Barbara Handy-Marchello, wrote a book about the early days of North Dakota and the roles women played in making certain small communities were healthy, vibrant and growing. She expressed that many things these early pioneer women did that were heroic and vital to the people around them.
I would say that what country women do today is no less heroic and vital to our rural communities. They are the glue that holds together society. They are the role models for new or beginning country women. They forge a path through times today that are every bit as difficult and stressful as the women of yesteryear.
Sure, these ladies probably never fought a bear or a wolf but the ladies of yesteryear didn’t have any options – it was survive by any means possible or die on the plains. But the ladies of yesteryear never walked out into their yard one morning to discover their husband had just purchased machinery that meant she would have to continue working off the farm for another ten years.
The ladies today do have options and they’ve chosen the option of making the lives of their families and of their family farm productive and healthy. What struck me – as we listened to the bio’s of each nominee – was how in the world the judges could pick just one person out of these six! As I contemplated this, it also struck me that these were only six out of thousands of country women who do what they do without being recognized.
In my line of work – helping with estate planning – I know without country women pushing their husbands to think about the future, estate planning would never be accomplished and family farms would have died by the droves over the past few generations.
I also know that many times, when a couple first arrives at my office, the man can go on and on about things he believes to be correct (usually so far from correct you can’t even see correct from there!). However, with some educational guidance and some information by me, these ladies will go home with their husbands and get them nudged in the right direction. The change from the first to the second to the third appointment with me shows the influence these women have on their spouses. By the third appointment we can see what correct is for this family farm and all the family situations that are unique in their own family farm dynamics. Then we can plan.
To all of the women who were nominated, congratulations. But I know from my experience that rural women are the fuel and the glue that keeps the rural agri-economy going. You all deserve a huge banquet and recognition for all that you do to keeping it all together and moving in the right direction!
“Keeping the Family Farm in the Family”
Great Plains Diversified Services, Inc.
1424 W. Century Ave., Suite 208
Bismarck, ND 58503-0917
Toll Free: 1-800-373-4078