Good to Great - Passion
The final good to great quality we will be discussing is passion. Passion is where the rubber meets the road, these are the people with pride in what they do, and it is engraved in their souls. This past week I had the opportunity of visiting with someone very passionate for the agriculture industry, Katharine Lotspeich. Katharine moved with her family, and their dairy cows, from Connecticut to Southern Utah when she was just 3 years old. They were looking forward to the opportunity the west provided for the growth of their dairy operation.
Over the span of her lifetime Katharine has shown deep passion for agriculture and the dairy industry, in her involvement on the home dairy, 4-H, FFA, and in her professional life. As Katharine entered the working world she has found many ways to advocate for agriculture. She has held roles from working directly with the producer, to rubbing shoulders with legislators on capitol hill. Currently Katharine and her friend Valene, host a podcast called Millennial Ag, where they discuss hot topics affecting agriculture today. Check out their Facebook page for current podcast listings, and posts advocating agriculture!
Thoughts from Katharine Regarding Passion:
Question #1: When was passion for Ag and the dairy industry instilled in you?
Katharine’s Response: I think it was just a matter of having grown up in it and watching my parents passion for it. Being steeped in it every day, I guess you could say I obtained it by “osmosis”. I grew up with people that were passionate and it has become a family legacy.
Question #2: How has passion for ag and dairy influenced your career choices?
Katharine’s Response: There has been no question of being a part of ag. I haven’t ever considered a role outside of ag, except for maybe being a marine biologist, and that is only if ag provided no options. Growing up being involved in 4-H and FFA, I knew I definitely wanted to go to and ag university.
My career path has been a little wonky up to this point, but I have managed to stay somewhat involved in the dairy industry. If you want it to happen there is always a way to make it happen, there is always a way to get there.
I started my career with Cargill, and I was very close to production that way. My next career choice was not as close to the producer. I have always had a passion for policy, and I was able to work for a couple of Colorado legislators on capitol hill as their Ag Policy Analyst. I read through the policies and helped explain and work with them to either pass or prevent each legislation. I broke it down into terms that people not from ag could understand and help them understand what the impact might be. It was interesting to see how policy was made and how the process works even when politicians involved may not have to deal with the end results.
Then I was able to work with Ag professionals. I worked as a regulatory consultant, and I helped beef and dairy producers with nutrient management and navigating environmental regulations. I was able to see how the policies made on capitol hill actually affected the producers and it brought everything full circle.
Question #3: What effects on their business have you observed when a producer is very passionate about their industry and the jobs they do every day?
Katharine’s Response: I observe success. If you are passionate, you are trying to do better, to be better, to fulfill what you can. The passionate producers are more successful. Those that think of it as just a job, without passion, it is hard to get up and put your boots on and be excited about the day. Passion is a drive you find every day. Not a love of money, but a love of what you are doing, the land, the cattle, the people, that shows through in how successful an operation can be.
Question #4: What part can ag producers and industry partners play in sharing their passion with consumers?
I think sharing passion for what you do with consumers is a crucial thing to do for success these days. Because, if the people buying your product want to know about you, but don’t get those answers, they will go elsewhere, and it might not be the right answer.
Share what you do and why you do it. Share why you love it, but don’t confuse sharing your passion with educating consumer. I think education has taken on an arrogant tone, it’s almost like we assume they know nothing. We don’t want to alienate our consumers. Just share what you love, why you do it, and why you have passion.
The past 5 weeks have been full of wisdom from great producers! If you haven’t had a chance to read all of the Good-to-Great posts, scroll back through the menu on the Blog tab for more enlightening thoughts from some amazing people!
Written by: Mariah Gull, M.S.