I am Kathy Teter. I was born and raised in Nebraska. My dad is a bricklayer and a horse trader, hence, my love of horses. My mom was an LPN and I am the eldest of seven. I moved around several states after graduation, settling in Montana in the spring of 1977. Initially, I worked at both stockyards in Billings, yarding back livestock on sale days and working in the chute house. Needing an income boost, I switched to working in the construction industry, completing an IBEW Electrical Apprenticeship in 1987. By then, I was married to my husband of 35 years, Jim. We have two sons, R Jay and Joe. Both were very active in 4-H and FFA and both are currently married with young daughters. We have a 14 year old granddaughter living with us, so I am active again in 4-H. We have a small place east of Huntley where we raise horses, sheep and cattle, along with multiple 4-H critters such as goats, chickens, rabbits, an occasional pig, and dogs and cats. To say I enjoy a rural lifestyle is an understatement! I believe the work ethic learned working on a farm or ranch is the backbone of our nation and responsible for our international strength.
Because of my involvement as a 4-H leader for the past 25 years and my lifestyle grounded in an ag community, Farm Bureau was a natural next step for me. I have had Farm Bureau insurance for almost 30 years but was unaware of the grassroots policy development aspect; until I became acquainted with a lobbyist for American Farm Bureau. He informed me of Farm Bureau’s role in our federal government which begins at the county level of every state.
Once I was aware of the positive impact Farm Bureau has in balancing the values of traditional agriculturists with diverse interests of an increasingly non-agricultural society, I wanted to do my part as a Farm Bureau member. I served as an officer and board member of Yellowstone County Farm Bureau for 15 years. I recently retired from my job as an Electrician and decided to become more involved in promoting agriculture. Rikki Swant told me about the ACE program and I was immediately interested.
As a result of my ACE training, I hope to be better informed about polarizing issues facing our rural communities. I want to find common ground from which to start conversations advocating mutual respect for one another’s concerns. I also hope to improve my communication skills so that I can better express myself during those conversations and learn to truly listen to the concerns of those with a negative impression of production agriculture in general. As a Farm Bureau board member, I intend to support our young Farm Bureau members by sharing what I have learned and encouraging them to stand strong in their own beliefs regarding a path forward to protect rural traditions.
I think one of the current critical issues is the diminishing population and lack of development in our rural communities. Without opportunities to support families in small towns across the state, those young people wanting to start families will move to urban centers leaving vast landscapes with an ageing population—a population with little or no representation, supporting the number one industry of our state and other ‘fly over’ states. Participation in ACE might help to build relationships with lawmakers not only in my district, but also districts that include small communities with ag related issues.
I plan to use the information and skills learned through ACE training to positively influence not only lawmakers, but other urban community leaders regarding ag and environmental issues. I think it is equally important to build positive relationships with our urban neighbors. Taking the time to listen to their questions and concerns and respond in a friendly manner to educate rather than alienate, might create allies rather than enemies. Those friendships will be crucial for the future of production agriculture.