I am a mom, wife, entrepreneur and FarmHer. My parents were small business owners, and they have been great role models and mentors. I started my first business at age 10 when my parents helped me open my own checking account for SF Suffolks, which I used to buy and sell purebred Suffolk sheep. It was a great lesson in budgeting as there was no way I was going to suffer my mother's wrath by getting overdrawn!
4-H - and my parents - taught me the importance of keeping records. I also learned to set goals and to work hard to achieve them. The 4-H Citizenship Washington, D.C., Focus Trip sparked my interest in government and prompted me to double major in Ag Journalism and Public Service & Administration in Agriculture at Iowa State University.
I worked in public relations and legislative affairs for 10 years. Three years after earning my MBA with an emphasis in Marketing from the University of Iowa, I opened my own public relations and public affairs business. Then in April 2004, my husband and I started a hybrid seed corn company in our garage. His brother joined us shortly thereafter and three of us placed third in the 2006 John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center's business plan competition. We were able to purchase the Latham family's soybean seed business in 2009, so we brought the two separate companies together and started doing business at Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. I also started Enchanted Acres pumpkin patch in 2012, so this will be my 9th year of operating this seasonal business.
My main areas of interest are career technical education, agriculture and economic development. All three of these areas are key for North Iowa to thrive. I'm an advocate for small business and Main Street America.
As a North Iowa native, I understand the importance of small business and agriculture to this region's economy. As a small business owner, I understand the need to play to your strengths. North Iowa's strengths are productive farmland and hardworking, well trained residents. We need builders, electricians, plumbers, nurses and farmers.
More than 90 percent of students who attend North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) stay in North Iowa. That's a win-win because they earn higher wages, and business owners need a skilled workforce. Many people with these skills start their own business and chose to live in North Iowa, creating another win-win situation for communities from Clear Lake to Clarksville. However, we don't have enough "homegrown talent" to keep up with demand. Lack of available workforce is one detriment to growing business here, so we need to recruit people to our region.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of becoming a more self-reliant nation. Store shelves stay stocked and jobs are created when we produce what we need. Instead, we've been experiencing the "sold out item of the week" since mid-March. I applaud local pork and beef producers for working through local lockers to process meat, and for commodity organizations to form local partnerships to fill shelves in food pantries across the state.
The pandemic is also showing us that rural broadband and high-speed internet services have become vital for telehealth, telecommuting and telelearning. Broadband is the great equalizer. It brings value to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, age or location. As a result, broadband can help bridge the rural-urban divide.
Common sense must prevail. We need to become a more business-friendly state to boost our economy and to encourage growth, but I don't believe this has to be done at the expense of our environment. In general, I support voluntary measures rather than laws and rules. The problem is that so many unintended consequences happen in rulemaking even if the initial bill wasn't "bad" for business or industry.
Industries are moving toward social responsibility, and voluntary practices are working. I believe we all benefit when we work together to preserve Iowa's natural resources without stifling business growth.
I value the Second Amendment, which provides Americans with the right to own and bear arms. As a young girl, I spent countless hours driving around the countryside while my dad looked for pheasants and deer. I was taught to respect nature and wildlife. When we would walk road ditches with his dog, Dad would pick up other people's trash. He would be so upset when people would literally trash our beautiful country. The same went for fishing. We would pick up other people's discarded bait containers and cut fishing line.
I always looked forward to helping my mom cook and serve breakfast for Dad and his buddies before they left for hunting. On Sundays, my dad and brother were on a trapshooting league. I'm glad to see so many high school trapshooting teams form. I wish I would have had that opportunity because I believe we're all better when people grow up learning to respect guns and how to properly handle them.