Blending Life on and off the Farm
November 14, 2019
While acknowledging she’s still striving for work-life balance, Faith Kemme of Effingham County has always been a master at juggling many responsibilities and activities at once. And by pushing herself, she has become a valued asset to the family farm.
Faith was a member of the women’s basketball team as a student at Lake Land College before transferring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics and production, respectively. But throughout her collegiate journey, her heart and dreams never left the family farm.
“As a full-time graduate student, I worked two jobs and still traveled home every weekend to work on the farm,” she recalls. “That’s when I learned to manage my time extremely well.”
Faith says her continued involvement and dedication allowed her to create a position for herself on the farm. She purchased her first piece of farm ground in 2014, formally came back to the farm in 2016, and now works with her father and brother-in-law on the corn, soybean, and wheat operation.
A third-generation farmer raising a son with husband Matt, she also holds several part time, off-farm jobs – summer field engagement specialist for Bayer, researcher for the University of Illinois, and substitute teacher at the local high school.
Faith continues prioritizing learning even after earning two degrees.
“As a young farmer, there is something to learn every single day. You don’t stop learning once you complete formal education – especially when it comes to self-improvement.”
After attending a crop marketing workshop, she was inspired to consider the actual cost of a new fertility program implemented on the farm. And in 2019, she created a breakeven analysis for each individual field managed by the operation. Tissue sampling is another area where she puts her analytical skills to use.
“By tracking return on investment by field, we better manage the crop and evaluate new technology or innovative ideas we incorporate,” Faith says. “The willingness to try new practices when others may be more hesitant to take on risk sets our farm apart.”
Faith is also involved in most agronomic decisions, planning how each individual field will be managed throughout the growing season – including what hybrid to grow, which chemicals and fertilizer to use, and timing of nutrient applications.
“As a young mother, my career is not without its struggles. But I work hard so my family can benefit for generations. By focusing on improving the farmland and resources we already have, we will find opportunity for success.”