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SF Blog: Natalina Sents Joins Successful Farming Team
As of this month, I am the newest face on the Successful Farming team. I’m thrilled to be on board as the digital content editor and am looking forward to learning from so many great creative minds.
While I am very excited for this new role, as I grew up in southeast Iowa, this is not where I pictured myself. I was raised in the small town of Columbus Junction and had a huge range of interests. As I finished high school, I was so concerned about picking the right college and major.
After more than a dozen college visits, I landed at Iowa State University and majored in agriculture business. I dreaded the day I would have to choose between my creative daydreams and my growing passion in agriculture. I wasn’t confident in my college decisions until one life changing presentation.
I will never forget following my fellow underclassmen to an Ag Business Club meeting in the basement of Carver Hall. That night, a small, family owned seed company, Beck’s Hybrids, was there to introduce themselves in a newly expanded selling territory and present employment opportunities to students. To kick off the meeting, they showed a few of the company's Why I Farm videos.
As I sat in my squeaky theater seat trying to hide my emotional response to the stories we watched, I realized I didn’t have to choose between a creative career and working in agriculture. I could honor farmers and share their stories by using my creative talents. From that day forward, that was my mission.
Long story short, I immersed myself in all things ag communications, marketing, and social media. I joined more clubs, applied for internships, and began my own blog. Finally, I was given the opportunity to join the Beck’s team as a marketing intern.
For the next summer, I learned from brilliant storytellers, and my love for the Why I Farm mission grew incredibly. By the end of my experience, I knew this was the type of work I was meant to do. At the same time, accepting a full-time job and committing to a cubicle didn’t seem like the right path for me. Pursuing a typical career would mean giving up my goal of traveling to all 50 states by the time I was 25.
So, the December before I graduated from Iowa State, I did something scary. I pitched a year long, 50-state road trip. After months of planning, with the Beck’s Why I Farm Movement as my megaphone, I was set to hit the road.
One week after receiving my diploma, I pulled out of my driveway with clothes and camera equipment packed into my tiny car. From May 2016 to May 2017 my life revolved around interviewing farmers, transcribing their stories, and sharing their photos. I visited farms and ranches of all shapes and sizes. By the end of my adventure, I’d traveled more than 100,000 miles, met over 100 farm families, and drank more than 50 gallons of coffee.
When the Why I Farm Roadtrip concluded, I returned to Iowa excited to seize the freelancing opportunities coming my way. Between catching up with old friends and reconnecting with family, I got the chance to work and speak around the Midwest and abroad.
Only now am I beginning to see the irony in the last couple years of my life. My senior year of college I methodically planned out the Why I Farm Roadtrip. Once it was time to hit the road, I realized how unrealistic it was to map out each minute of my adventure. As a freelancer, I spoke about my experience in front of hundreds of young people saying, “Sometimes things turn out even better than you could plan if you’re willing to let go and take a step into the unknown.” At the same time, I was obsessing over my own freelance plans.
Until one day I heard of an opening at Meredith AgriMedia on the Successful Farming team. Finally, it was time to take my own advice. When I settled back into Iowa, I never pictured myself working downtown Des Moines (where Successful Farming is headquartered), but sometimes things turn out even better than you could have imagined if you jump out and take a risk. I can’t wait to see where this journey leads.