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Women in Ag Network - November Feature







By Megan Roberts, Extension Educator

November’s Women in Ag Feature is Tiffany Klaphake, Agriculture Program Coordinator for Central Lakes College, AgCentric, and MN FFA Alumni. Tiffany also lives and works on a dairy farm near Sauk Centre. Below Tiffany shares about her experiences growing up on a farm, leaving to seek an education and career in agriculture, and then finding herself back on a farm again.
Tiffany Klaphake
WAGN: Tell us a little about your background and farm.
Tiffany: I grew up on a 60 cow dairy farm in central Minnesota by the small town of Burtrum. Growing up I was your classic FFA judging, 4-H showing, dairy princess waving farm girl. Being involved in so many agriculture related activities in high school made me want to pursue an agriculture degree in college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degree, but knew I wanted my degree to be in agriculture. After graduating with an Agribusiness degree from Ridgewater College, I decided to transfer on to the University of Minnesota Crookston to get my Bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness.

Upon graduating from the U of M in Crookston, I got the once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in an international agricultural exchange program. For the three months, I lived with host families on farms, learning about culture and agriculture in Europe. I still stay in contact with my host families and have returned to Europe a few times since then. To date I have been to six countries and 26 states. After returning to the U.S., I got my current position with Central Lakes College as their Agriculture Program Coordinator. As part of my position I am also the Program Coordinator for AgCentric, the Minnesota State Northern Agriculture Center of Excellence and am the Program Coordinator for the Minnesota FFA Alumni Association. I am proud to have received my Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree this past spring at the State Convention.

Tiffany in Ireland
I also got married this past August. While I had wanted to stay involved in the dairy industry I was NOT planning on marrying a dairy farmer. But guess what? I married none other than a dairy farmer from Sauk Centre. So currently in my spare time, I help my husband milk cows and run our farm, and I bake whenever possible. Those dairy farmers are quite the charmers, aren’t they ladies? 

WAGN: You live on a dairy farm and have an off-farm job in agriculture. That's a lot to manage! What are some of your time management strategies?
Tiffany: I love my job. I was living in Staples prior to getting married, which is where my job is. Now I live an hour south of Staples in Sauk Centre with my husband. I am keeping my full time job in Staples and commuting back and forth every day. For my job, I do travel occasionally mainly to St. Cloud or the Twin Cities, so having the majority of my work on my computer and online is a big plus. Also at home on the farm, my husband farms with his brother and they have a couple of part time helpers, so that is a big help.

Time management and communication is not only key in our relationship but in any personal or professional relationship. We all pitch in and work together to get things done. This fall certainly hasn’t been ideal as you all know, but it’s those little moments of helping each other out when you are both tired and cold that I have quickly come to realize aren’t just little moments. Milking cows isn’t the most romantic job ever, but it certainly is more enjoyable when you are doing it with the ones you love. Even when I am busy with other things, it’s taking that extra ten minutes it takes to bring in the new born calf and feed it because my husband still has to feed all the cows and park the tractors in the shed because it’s supposed to rain yet again! The other important and probably the most important priority for us is our family. We always make sure to take time for family. On most Sundays, we try and either go visit my family or some of his family members or just spend time together, even if it is riding in the combine together. My husband always says a farm is the best place to raise a family, and we can’t wait to start our own family on our own family farm.

WAGN: Why do you enjoy working in agriculture?
Tiffany: One of my favorite quotes is “Once in a while you need a doctor, a lawyer, a preacher, but everyday three times a day you need a farmer.” I knew I wanted to pursue agriculture back in high school because no other industry is as connected and yet diverse as agriculture. There is a comradery of folks in the agriculture community coming together to help each other out, whether it is farmers, ag teachers, Extension educators or FFA students. I have seen the same thing in other states and other countries. One of my biggest takeaways from my exchange trip and travels was that no matter what language we speak, the color of our skin, the geographic location of our home or the type of equipment we use, the mindset of the farmer is the same. To work hard and make the farm and the world in which we live a little better for the next generation.

Tiffany and her husband Jason
enjoying time together in the tractor

WAGN: What is current goal you are working towards on your farm or through your job?
Tiffany: Professionally, I want to encourage kids to gain technical skills. Agriculture of course being one of the technical careers kids can pursue, with hundreds of jobs in Minnesota going unfilled simply because there aren’t enough graduates to fill them. These jobs are important, well paying, and don’t necessary require a four-year degree. I also want to encourage todays’ youth to stay local. Small towns are the backbone of not only Minnesota but also the country. So many young adults move to the big city because “that’s where the jobs are’. In every small town I drive through, I see help wanted signs. Today’s young adults can get a job just about anywhere they want. With more and more jobs being online, working from home is a common option too.

Personally, I want to keep traveling and learning more about this train we call life.

Thanks Tiffany for sharing your story with WAGN for this month’s “Woman in Ag” feature. To learn more about WAGN visit z.umn.edu/WAGN.


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