March 12 2020 09:00 AM

Little farm girls become the strong dairy women we need in this world.

As the Martina McBride song goes, “This one's for all you girls about 13. High school can be so rough, can be so mean.” I’ll add that farm girls are far and few in-between. Or at least in East Moline, Ill., this is true. But farm girls, please hold on to who you are and treasure the farm life that made you who you are. Stand your ground when everyone else is giving in.

Wearing boots and sporting a farmer’s tan is more than okay, and being confident and strong is something you should hold close to your heart and never stop striving for. Listen, farm girls are rare gems that shine brightly. Be proud of your heritage; it has made you who you are today.

And, always know that you can use the excuse, "I have to help dad out in the barn," to get out of any situation you're not comfortable with. Farm dads and farm moms are strong enough to be the "mean parent" that makes farm life a priority and doesn’t let their teenager go to a party or be part of a situation they are not comfortable with.

Look mom and dad, soon your 13-year-old farm girl will be 25 and trying to survive in this big and often scary world we live in. The farm life they are living today will shape them to do far more than just get by in their early adult years. It’s making them responsible, honest, hardworking, and committed. These qualities are really difficult to duplicate outside of the farm.

Farm girls, when you look in the mirror, realize your beauty is deeper than what meets the eye. You illustrate confidence and strength, grit and determination, all while still being vulnerable.

Someday you'll be like me, over the 40-year-old threshold and trying hard to hide your insecurities. What I have to say is look deeper than the surface and also realize that all of us farm girls, who now are farm women, have earned every laugh line, and every gray hair has a story to tell. Embrace your beauty.

This one's for the farm girls who dream far differently than your peers. There’s a leather show halter in your hand, mud on your brow, boots on your feet, and cows and tractors in the background. Continue to sparkle. The world needs strong farm women to lead the way — now more than ever before.

Karen Bohnert

Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.