Seizing opportunities, finding family | successful farming

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I have always been close to my family. For most of my life in our small town in Maryland, Dad painted cars and Mom stayed home with me and my two younger sisters. We were the kids who dined as a family at the kitchen table every night, brought our parents as chaperones on school outings, and wore matching pajamas on Christmas Eve.

Do not mistake yourself; we are far from perfect. Screaming matches were more common than not when all three Dinterman girls went to the barn at the same time. I distinctly remember more than once when I was sent to my room for being a little too talkative. We’ve always joked that we’d make the perfect contestants for a TLC reality show — big hot mess tied to a whole lot of love.

When our sibling arguments got too heated, my parents used to sit the three of us down and tell us we needed to find a way to get along. “In the end, all you have is each other,” they reminded us. We rolled our eyes and headed to our rooms, too young to understand how right they were.

A world of possibilities

When I announced I was going to Oklahoma State University, everyone seemed to have advice for my parents: “When they go out west, they never come back.” I thought that review was the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard. What could make me leave everything I’ve ever known, including my family, for good?




Family of five poses after graduation ceremony

I quickly understood that getting out of your comfort zone broadens your vision of the world. While in college, I did internships in other states, traveled for conferences, and even spent 2.5 weeks in Thailand for a study abroad program. At the time of graduation, I didn’t think I needed to find a job near my home. Instead, a world of possibilities literally opened up to me.

One of the first things people tell freshmen is to network, network, network. It was daunting to me, but a trip to Ag Media Summit, which is a conference for agriculture professionals, showed me that networking doesn’t have to feel like a business transaction. For me, making new friends who also work in my industry and who can help solve problems is a better way to look at it. As you see the same people, it starts to look like its own little industrial family.




Chelsea Dinterman sits in front of the Oklahoma State Fountain

I think that’s why I was so excited to attend Commodity Classic in New Orleans earlier this month. Just over two months into my role as Associate Agronomy Editor, I was ready to put faces to the names I emailed and shake hands with those whom I had met on Zoom. (I also got to ride the company plane. Can you blame me if I say that was one of the coolest perks?)

When I walked into the convention center early Thursday morning, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never attended such a large conference and the lounge was overwhelming. I spent most of my time following my supervisor, Gil Gullickson, watching him interview a wide variety of agronomy contacts. I’m new to the agronomics of farming, so even though they felt like they were speaking a foreign language at times, listening to experts was an eye-opening and informative experience.

I was also lucky enough to attend a few social events, like the mixer hosted by the Ag Communicators Network, the National Agri-Marketing Association, and the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. I took the time to chat with lots of new people and was shocked by the number of familiar faces in the crowd.

Beyond the interviews and meetings, the best part of the trip was getting to know my new colleagues better. We ate beignets in the French Quarter, dined on Bourbon Street and chatted between sessions on the main stage. Traveling with other people is one of the best ways to get to know someone. I got to know my colleagues and their families. I’ve done my own sharing and even shocked an editor or two with stories from my 21st birthday.




Two sisters stand in front of a fountain with water dyed orange

By the time our flight home landed in Des Moines a few days later, I truly felt like a member of the SF family. During Happy Hour SF at Commodity Classic, it was clear that this family mentality extends not only to every member of the SF team, but also to our readers and advertisers. As a new person, everyone was so welcoming and eager to share tips. I realized that I had found a new family that extends beyond the walls of our Des Moines office. I came home with more excitement for the months to come as I settled into my new role at SF.

Are you part of this type of extended family? Do you have any tips for understanding how and why herbicides work (or don’t work)? Just want to chat? I would love to hear from you! Reach me via email at Chelsea.Dinterman@meredith.com, or hit me up on twitter @CDintermanSF.

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