So far you all have read about so many green thumbed, cow wrangling, horse training, boss lady Agvocates throughout this series. And what do they all have in common? Strong work ethic, determination, grit, passion, perserverence. And we're not quite done...
This week I want to introduce you to a rockin’ Mother/ Daughter duo from the Land of Lincoln who were nominated for this series by their good friend, Abbie. Hey, Thanks Abbie! Jenny Vancil and her daughter Molly Vancil Foster have been a dream team for a number of years. Abbie writes, “The biggest reason why I wanted to nominate these wonderful ladies is because at the end of the day I greatly admire what they are doing. I have worked all over the state of Illinois and I see less and less women holding their own when it comes to the farm. Women working with livestock it's even less. Raising livestock takes unreal amount of time, work and devotion. Both of these women put everything into their passion that is agriculture.”
Seriously! Think about it….how many women do you know who still are involved in the daily grind on the farm? I have tremendous respect for these women and I don’t think they get enough credit! Again, Abbie knocked it out of the park describing just how the Vancil women have impacted the agriculture community in their area. Abbie elaborates, “Growing up on a farm in the 80’s was not for the faint of heart. Times were lean to put it mildly. Jenny would work in town at the courthouse during planting season all day and then work most of the night in the field. This would also be during calving season and having a small child too. Jenny was also part of the Lamoine Valley Angus Association in the 80’s that help laid the foundation that has made the Illinois Jr Angus Association the power house it is today. It is now one of the most successful junior cattle associations in the USA. To say the least Jenny is the back bone of the Vancil Farm. Molly growing up was involved in FFA, 4H, sports, and was even the prom queen and still came home to work most nights on the farm. While all these activities pulled Molly away from the show ring, she came back with a drive that can only be compared to the drive and passion she was raised with. Agriculture is something that is more than just a lifestyle for the Vancils - it is in their blood. I can already see Molly’s daughter, Gretchen, following these same footsteps (of course chasing her two big brothers she already is running pretty hard). "
Sounds like some pretty amazing ladies amiright? Molly (obviously) accepted her nomination and began thinking about what she and her mother had to say about their Ag story. I wasn't expecting what came next. I knew their family had a strong Ag background. I knew they were well respected in the community. I knew their friends all had good things to say about them. And then I learned why. Take a look at what Molly had to say about HER ag story. . .
In our family it’s truly a family affair. My mom and dad are constantly busy! If it’s not being in the field with corn and soybeans in the fall and spring, or making hay in the summer, it’s calving out cows for the commercial cow/calf operation. We are in full swing right now with new babies hitting the ground. This also includes cleaning out a lot of pens, insert help of about three .kids
At our house we have a growing purebred Hereford herd, and will start calving again in the coming months. We are busy with a little bit of everything. Summers are filled with stock shows, showing cattle, and more recently we got into the pigs as well! I guess year round we are on the road with something if it’s not shows or sales, it’s rodeos as well. My oldest son has now added Jr. High Rodeo to our list of things to do over the year as well! Or we are going to team roping events throughout the year as well, whenever and wherever we can find them. My husband, Matt, all three of our kids enjoy roping, me I’m a heck of a cheerleader! We also do a custom calf raiser, which simply put means that we provide surrogate cows for other cattle producers. All hands are on deck when it’s calving season, if it’s not cleaning and bedding pens for the new and expectant mothers, then it’s haying, and feeding, and night time checks, and the occasional getting to play with the new babies! There is always something going on or something to do throughout the year!
As I read the others’ stories, I thought, what is our story? Honestly, I had something completely different that I was going to share, but it was a conversation that my mom and I had in the barn one day that made it completely clear…a “Thank You” letter.
What? I can hear it now!
But think about it, who do you have to thank?
We talked about the people that helped get my parents where they are, who helped them really get started in the cattle industry. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, my parents worked A LOT of cattle sales and went to A LOT of cattle shows. They ran with a crew that today is still very recognized and respected in the industry. I’m sure people have heard the names Cimaron and Rachel Frost, Stan and Linda Prox, George and Betty Sperry, just to name a few, there are so many others that I could mention, but fail to for I may forget someone. But these people are who they credit for the influence and friendship that was given to them to get started. I’ve known these people, well, forever, and I have great respect for them and have looked up to them through the years.
Recognizing and giving credit where credit is due, a true and heartfelt thank you to everyone that has helped us all in any way possible, no matter how small the contribution.
I’m lucky enough now to be able to continue the friendship of their children, who I’ve known since we were in playpens together, and I have the pictures to prove it, but I won’t! Now I’m lucky enough to be able to continue that long tradition with my children being friends with their children, and sharing memories of showing. The next generation is carrying on that tradition, and I hope to see that it keeps going on. This is what it is really all about isn’t it? Recognizing and giving credit where credit is due, a true and heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone that has helped us all in any way possible, no matter how small the contribution. Without those who have helped us to do the things that we love in a lifestyle that is sometimes challenging.
Thank you to Abbie Sperry for nominating us, she is a lifelong friend and an avid advocate for agriculture as well. Thank you to my mom and dad, for raising me to love this lifestyle, that hard work really does pay off in the end, and that there are many things that are possible with your help. I also want to take the time to thank my husband, for getting me back into the swing of things with cattle after a much to long hiatus all those years ago. I have never looked back, and am happy that we are able to raise our kids the same way.
Molly’s Advice for us all: Take a little time to think about who you have to thank for being able to do what you do and how they influenced you to get to where you are, it may surprise how many people there really are. The contribution may be big, it may be small, but in some way just their presence was just enough to help with the task at hand. We didn’t get her by ourselves, there’s plenty of people that have helped hoe that road! Thank you to all the people that have helped in any way, shape, or form, your friendship, willingness to pitch in at any crisis, or just being there to lend an ear, THANK YOU!