Nebraska Women in Agriculture Launches Entrepreneurship Web Series
“Open for Business: A Nebraska Women in Agriculture Agripreneurship Series” is a monthly webcast series that highlights the entrepreneurial spirit of women in agribusiness from across the state, offering creative insights and the stories behind what it takes to build a business.
The conversations focus on surviving business shocks such as disasters, regulatory changes and shifting family dynamics. Female agribusiness leaders are interviewed by Jessica Groskopf, director of the Nebraska Women in Agriculture program.
“We know it’s a challenging time for our state, which is why we are excited to showcase the grit, determination, and success of female agribusiness entrepreneurs in Nebraska,” Groskopf said of the webcast series.
“It’s our hope that their stories inspire and uplift other women to pursue their own goals and that attendees can pick up some creative and useful business insights along the way.”
The webcasts will be held at 6:30 p.m. Central time on the second Tuesday of each month. They are free to attend, but registration is required. Upcoming guests and registration links will be posted here soon.
Nebraska Women in Agriculture is a program of Nebraska Extension in the Department of Agricultural Economics, dedicated to providing unbiased, research-based risk management education to female agriculture professionals in Nebraska. This material is based upon work supported by USDA-NIFA under Award Number 2018-70027-28586
New Episode: Dec. 14, 2021 at 6:30 PM Central with Kara Sousek
Kara Sousek is a fifth generation farmer from Prague, NE. She studied Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and minored in the Engler Entrepreneurship Program. While she grew up surrounded by corn, beans, cows, and pigs on the family farm, she felt drawn to diversified agriculture. She started working for Oak Creek Vineyard early in her college career, and became manager soon after graduating. The same year after graduating, she planted her own first acre of grape vines on the family farm by Prague. For the past few years, she has leased Oak Creek Vineyard from her former boss after he retired, and is in the process of purchasing the vineyard. Through those years, she has held several day jobs related to her horticulture degree, and currently is the Production Manager at Great Plains Nursery in Weston. She plans on transitioning to running the vineyard full time in the near future, but currently manages the vineyards with her brother-in-law in addition to their day jobs.
Kara is passionate about the Nebraska Wine industry. Her mission is to provide the quality and quantity of grapes that Nebraska wineries need to produce exceptional wines and to grow their businesses.
Nov. 9, 2021: Kelsey Patton, The Fiber Mill
Kelsey grew up on a small farm in Nebraska, near the Swedish town of Stromsburg. She began sewing for her dolls at the age of six, and was ecstatic to receive an old-fashioned treadle sewing machine for Christmas at the age of eight. She also learned to knit (incorrectly) that year, began quilting at the age of nine, crocheting at age ten, sewing clothing at age twelve, and knitting (correctly, in the Scandinavian style) at age thirteen. She and her mother bought their first Icelandic sheep and spinning wheel when she was 15, and a loom shortly after. Since then, Kelsey has been spinning and weaving as a hobby and business, sometimes in the traditional Scandinavian way, sometimes in fun, new, and modern ways. About 4 years ago, she began the process of opening her own wool mill, The Fiber Mill, in downtown Stromsburg. After three years of planning and research, The Fiber Mill finally opened September of 2020. The Fiber Mill handles wool processing from all over the United States, turning wool and other fibers into yarn, roving and felt. Kelsey lives in Stromsburg with her husband, Philip, and son Hans.
Oct. 12: Carrie Duffy, founder of Black Dirt Land
Carrie Duffy lives and offices in Yutan, Nebraska in Saunders County where she raised her three children. Her career began in 1982 with a full-service Omaha real estate and development company where she focused on commercial real estate with an emphasis on land sales and office leasing. In 2008 some life changing events prompted her to evaluate her pursuits. It became clear that Carrie was committed to doing business with the people that she lived with in a more rural environment. She left her position of 19 years with CBRE-MEGA, a commercial real estate company, to gain valuable experience as an associate broker and vice president with an established farm sales and management firm. A series of successes provided the capital and confidence to form Black Dirt Land Sales in 2013. Whether she is meeting at a landowner’s kitchen table or the corporate boardroom table, Carrie’s experience in commercial real estate combined with her love of the rural way of life makes her uniquely qualified.
July 13: Hannah Klitz, Oak Barn Beef
Hannah Klitz is the owner of Oak Barn Beef. Oak Barn Beef ships Premium, Nebraska beef directly to consumers across the United States. Utilizing cattle DNA testing and dry-aging, the beef is said to be some of the best you'll ever try! Hannah started the business as a sophomore in college and now is the sole owner/operator of the business with her husband, Eric. She graduated from UNL in May 2020 with a degree in Animal Science and minors in the Nebraska Beef Industry Scholars and the Engler Entrepreneurship Program. Hannah also works full-time as the Communications Coordinator at The Combine, a program by Invest Nebraska which supports Nebraska Agricultural Technology Startups.
June 8: Katie Jantzen, West End Farm
Katie Jantzen founded West End Farm in 2017 on part of her family's farm near Plymouth, NE. She raises 47 different types of vegetables, berries, melons, and herbs, and also sells honey, jam, and baked goods. West End Farm is currently made up of approximately 1/2 acre in vegetable production including a newly-constructed high tunnel, a small berry patch, and 10 honeybee hives. The main marketing venue for her crops is the farm's CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, in which customers sign up for a produce subscription and receive a weekly box of fresh vegetables all season long. She also sells her products at the Beatrice Farmers Market and to a couple of wholesale accounts.
Katie's interest in local food has been influenced by a range of experiences including growing up on a dairy farm, studying environmental science in college, managing a community gardening program for a food pantry, and working on CSA farms in several states. When not working on the farm or at her town job, Katie is also involved in a variety of food/agriculture organizations including the Southeast Nebraska Food Partners food coalition, Nebraska Food Council, Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, and Women in Local Food and Farming, as well as several research projects with the Center for Rural Affairs.
May 11: Sherry Jarvis, Heart in Your Hand Horsemanship
Sherry Jarvis from Burwell, NE started Heart in Your Hand Horsemanship in 2003, training horses and teaching horsemanship clinics across the country. She decided she wanted to stay home more often so she built Horse Lover’s Bunkhouse where guests can bring their own horses or lease the ranch horses for lessons and trail rides.
With access to over 100,000 acres in the beautiful sandhills the trails are peaceful and scenic with no roads or power lines, just cattle, coyotes, deer, birds, and lots of frogs along the natural lakes. Sherry is also an inspirational speaker mostly for Christian women’s groups and churches. She is an author. Her first book is Win Your Horse’s Heart and she is currently working on finishing a couple more. Since Sherry is a retired school teacher she still loves teaching and in 2021 created an online coaching program for women in the 2nd half of life to help slow down premature aging by phasing out things from diet, lifestyle and thinking which accelerate aging.
April 13: Brittany Bolte, Yield Plus Agronomics
Brittany Bolte is an agronomist in north central Nebraska working with growers and producers on water/irrigation management, crop consulting and providing agronomic service and support to a handful of agriculture products such as row crop and forage seed. She grew up in southwest York county and got her first look at agronomy in the summer of 2007.
After working for a couple of ag-retail companies, she started her business, Yield Plus Agronomics, in January of 2013 by focusing on water management and precision ag support. Then in September of 2018 that grew into crop consulting and planning, soil sampling, seed service and sales, and most recently, becoming a sales representative for a feed and salt/mineral company with a focus on soil health.
Some of her big goals focus on a balanced, whole system approach to crop production, meaning it’s not just one thing or two things that get you to reach your goals within your operation, but that it takes ALL things to be balanced and collaborating with each other as a system to make those goals happen and go the distance. Her biggest joy is working with growers and producers to help their operations, family and their region be successful, in whatever way they define success for themselves..
March 9: Hannah and Debbie Borg, Borg Family Farm
The Borg family farm, near Allen, Neb., raises crops, cattle and chickens. Hannah's main role is operating the pullet barns that they raise for Costco. When she isn’t farming, you can find her behind a camera or in a history book. Hannah graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s in Agricultural Communications. She has interned for FarmHer and the Rural Radio Network as a farm broadcaster, is active at her church and is a board member at the Wakefield Heritage Organization.
Feb. 9: Emily Shook, Triple E Equine
Triple E Equine is a family owned and operated business near Beaver Crossing, Nebraska. Emily Shook and her sisters, Hannah and Sarah Eberspacher have grown up loving, owning, and showing horses locally and nationally in the AQHA, APHA, PtHA, and NSBA associations.
As the fourth generation to live on the family’s farm, they have decided to incorporate their horse hobby by diversifying the farming operations to include a horse motel.
On May 11, 2014, the family farm suffered signiﬁcant damage by an F-3 tornado, including destroying the horse barn and indoor arena. Because of this tragic event, they decided to rebuild in a new direction. When the family rebuilt the barn and arena, they also built an attached Bunkhouse, which can be used as lodging for travelers. Emily created Triple E Equine during college through the Engler Entrepreneurship program at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Her sisters and her were natural business partners so they ofﬁcially launched their business in 2016 to meet the needs of both travelers and their horses.
More information can be found at tripleeequine.com.
Dec. 10: Teresa Lorensen, Bloom Where You're Planted Farm and Pumpkin Patch.
Teresa Lorensen is co-owner/operator of Bloom Where You’re Planted Farm & Pumpkin Patch. The farmstead is located near the village of Avoca, Nebraska, and was purchased by Teresa’s grandparents in 1944. Teresa and Terry bought and moved onto the property in 2003.
In the years when Teresa was dissatisfied with her career and looking for something more fulfilling, her mom would tell her to “bloom where you’re planted,” or in other words, make the most of the place you’re at in life. Those words helped inspire the Lorensens to take the leap, and in 2005 they opened a new business which they named for Mom’s advice.
Over the past 16 seasons Bloom Where You’re Planted Farm & Pumpkin Patch has grown to offer a full-slate of pumpkin patch activities, all based around agriculture & nature. Outside of the fall season, the farm is home to monthly Rural Route Rust vintage markets May through September featuring antiques, home décor and occasional guest vendors. More information can be found at bloompumpkinpatch.com.
Nov. 10: Leah Fote, Good Berry Farms.
Good Berry Farms is dedicated to growing one fruit: Aronia Berries. In 2015, Leah Fote started the first aronia berry farm in western Nebraska on 20 acres. The aronia berry caught Leah’s attention with its versatility and abundant health benefits. Its wellness powers rival any of the tropical fruits across the world and they are grown right here in Nebraska. Good Berry Farms is committed and dedicated to growing high-quality all natural aronia berries so our consumers are always satisfied. More information on the aronia berry and available products can be found at goodberryfarms.com.
Oct. 13: Our Lavender Co.
Peggy Palser, with her daughters Stephanie Anderson and Nicole Palser, founded Our Lavender Co. in Big Springs, Neb., in 2019. The farm started with around 2500 plants on one acre. From their first harvest, they began making small-batch lavender goods, sold both locally and online. In 2020, they expanded the field to around 6,000 plants, spanning 18 cultivars over five acres around their family homestead. They hope to continue to expand and make the lavender field an oasis for others and provide their rural community with opportunities through the agri-tourism generated by the farm.
Sept. 8: Jaclyn Wilson, fifth-generation cow-calf producer and founder of Flying Diamond Genetics and Flying Diamond Beef.
From Lakeside, Neb., Wilson and her father, Blaine, operate Wilson Ranch, a Red Angus operation founded in 1888.
In 2011, she founded Flying Diamond Genetics, a recipient business headquartered near Alliance, Neb., and, last fall, co-founded Flying Diamond Beef, a direct-to-consumer venture, with two other female business partners.
Wilson has been active in the beef industry, serving in leadership roles with Nebraska Cattlemen and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. She is an alumna of the Nebraska LEAD program, served as chair of the Nebraska Agriculture Leadership Council, and on agricultural advisory committees for Gov. Pete Ricketts, Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Adrian Smith. She currently sits on the Nebraska Humanities Council. In 2016. she received Farm Journal Media’s 40 Under 40 Award.