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Kimberly Rowe Named “Ag Woman of the Month” by Hempstead County Women’s Farm Bureau Committee

By Staff, 10/4/20 9:40 PM
Kimberly Rowe has been selected as the Ag woman for the month of October by the Hempstead County Women’s Farm Bureau Committee. Here is her lovely write up about her journey thru the world of Ag. So sit back and enjoy.
Kimberly Rowe…..
Social media manager for University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service
From Lone Rock AR in rural Baxter County, Hempstead County resident for 17 years
Married to Cody Rowe, a Hope native, who is an operator with Enbridge gas transmission and a part-time leather craftsman
Parents to one daughter, Aftyn, 9, a Hempstead Co 4-H member who attends Spring Hill Elementary.
First off, I am honored to be included among the caliber of women who have been featured on this platform.
My current contribution to agriculture doesn’t look like what most would consider an “ag woman.” I didn’t marry into farming, nor did I grow up on a working farm, or even show animals in my youth. In fact, my high school didn’t have an ag program at the time I was a student. I had heard of 4-H growing up but thought it was for “rich kids,” I grew up in a place so far off the beaten path, we had to pump the sunshine in, so there wasn’t much available to me for extracurricular activities except traipsing through the woods, exploring the hills and hollers of the Ozark National Forest.
My family had what would be called a hobby farm today, but at the time it was just rural life, we raised animals mostly for our own consumption. We also grew a garden and my mom preserved the produce. My mom worked at a factory, sometimes 7 days a week, and my dad worked as a logger, farm hand, and built a lot of barbed wire fence around the county. Some of my earliest memories involve putting clips on the lower strands, which my dad taught me how to do so he didn’t have to bend over as much. I was his tag-along most of my growing-up years and we had some adventures going to the sale barn in a beat up old truck with a stock rack, and hauling cedar logs for brace posts, but it was my mom who taught me the fundamentals of horticulture and to appreciate good soil.
Truthfully, I didn’t think much about ag as a career until I was a high school senior and faced with a wide-open future. Looking through the course catalog for ASU Jonesboro, I was fixated on the College of Agriculture. Initially, I majored in animal science with the intent to apply to vet school. I began to realize by the end of my freshman year that I was loving my required plant science courses the most, and I had made friends with row crop farmers who let me drive combines and articulated tractors, put in rice levee gates and haul beans to the elevator. I fell in love with row crop ag and changed my major to plant science. I was involved in nearly every club in the ag department which gave me opportunities to travel and see many aspects of the ag industry in action.
I had a couple of jobs throughout college at seed company research stations around Jonesboro and loved learning about diseases and insects and plant breeding. When it came graduation time, I interviewed for a position with Dr. Rick Cartwright who was the U of A Extension rice pathologist at the time. He himself was hill folk in a flatlander’s world and we related well to each other. He ultimately hired a more qualified candidate; however, he connected me with Dr. Terry Kirkpatrick, Extension plant pathologist based at the Southwest Research and Extension Center here in Hope. Terry hired me to run his soybean disease screening program. I moved into a house at the SWREC in 2003, never having seen it and not knowing a soul for a hundred miles. Truthfully, I never planned to stay for long, but fast forward 5 years, I married a local and we planted roots!
In 2009 I received my Master’s degree in agricultural communications from the U of A. I had made connections in Extension that led to digital media duties being added to my role of disease screening coordinator, but the program’s life was drawing to an end with Terry Kirkpatrick’s impending retirement.
In 2016, my mentor, Dr. Rick Cartwright, had moved up to Director for Extension and knowing the need to tell agriculture’s real story from research-based science in a sea of anti-ag misinformation flooding social media, he connected me to a role within our organization’s IT department. Since then, I have spent 24:7/365 trying my best to educate and help our Extension employees statewide do the same through their social media efforts as the social media manager for Extension Facebook and Instagram. If not for mentors like Terry and Rick and many others investing in me professionally and personally, I wouldn’t have the privilege of doing what I do today.
In my family life, we don’t seem to have much spare time, but we enjoy outdoor activities, Aftyn’s softball games, and going to the lake. We moved to our new house out in the country a year ago and still have so much we’d like to do such as landscaping, adding a chicken coop, building a rabbit hutch, clearing brush and rehabbing the land from years of neglect, and planting a small garden eventually.
I will never know first-hand the rewarding and difficult livelihood of farming, but I am so proud to advocate for those who do. And I commend groups like the Hempstead County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee for bringing awareness to agriculture in our communities and our schools so that kids like mine expand their knowledge, interest, and appreciation for the science of agriculture and for the farmers who ensure we have food on our tables each day. Ag is for everyone and it’s so important to make it accessible to kids from a young age who may not otherwise be exposed to it, whether due to an urban culture or socioeconomic status. That’s one of my favorite parts of working for Extension and seeing programs like 4-H open a world of opportunities for kids to evolve into our future ag leaders.