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‘Ag With Emma’

Thursday, February 1, 2024
filed under: News

Photo courtesy of Emma
      The USDA’s latest agricultural census estimates there are about 3.4 million producers in the country.  That includes farmers and other farm workers.
        For many, it is a way of life they've grown up in. Nearly 90% of farms are family farms, and many have been passed down from generation to generation.
        But occasionally, you'll find someone working on a farm who breaks that mold. Emma, whose last name we won't share because of her privacy concerns, is a 22-year-old Idaho native.  She didn't grow up on a farm; but agriculture has always been a part of her life.  Emma’s dad grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, and her stepdad was a farm manager in Idaho and California.
        “We did live on three acres, and for my 12th birthday I asked for a milk cow,” Emma recalls.  “So, I had a brown Swiss that I got to milk all the time.” Emma’s friends lived on farms, and Emma spent her high school years in FFA and working at the local extension office.
        “We would feed our neighbor’s cows whenever they were gone, and I also got to work in a grain elevator in high school.  That was my first experience with grain crops,” Emma says.
        After high school, Emma attended community college in Idaho.  She earned her associate degree and transferred to a four-year university to finish her degree. But she quickly realized college wasn't for her.
        “I had plans to join a custom harvest crew in May, and in February I dropped out of college,” she says.  “I started doing pivot maintenance and other spring prep work; and then in May I went to Oklahoma to start harvest.”
        She worked with that crew for a few months, then joined a different crew that moved north to harvest in North Dakota.
        That was the first time she saw sunflower.  The crop intrigued her.  “I saw them, and I was like, ‘What the heck!  How do you even harvest those?’ ” she recalls.
        Last fall, she got the answer to that question when she helped cut about 2,500 acres of high-oleic sunflower in southwestern North Dakota.  She shared the entire process on her YouTube channel, “Ag with Emma.”
        Emma started her channel long before she came to North Dakota.  She recalls when she was working on a farm in Idaho her grandparents had a lot of questions about her work.  Emma started filming her workday to show to her grandparents.  “I was like, ‘I’ll film it and show them what I do every day,’ ” she says.
        Her YouTube page quickly grew beyond her family.  She now has more than 227,000 subscribers, and each of her videos get thousands of views.  She shares her day-to-day work as a farmhand on a southwestern North Dakota farm.  She didn’t set out to be a YouTube star, but quickly realized she was in a good position to become an advocate for agriculture.
        “I break things down into ‘farming for dummies’ terms,” Emma relates.  She says by doing that, she’s learning just as much as her viewers.  Her natural curiosity has helped her connect with those who tune into each “Ag with Emma” episode.  And although she didn't grow up in a traditional farm setting, she knows enough about how things are done there to recognize how different they are in North Dakota.
        “The biggest difference to me is not having irrigated fields,” she says. “Everything in Idaho is irrigated.  Everything is under a pivot, or it doesn't grow.  So, it’s a little nerve wracking to farm without that because there’s no guarantee it will rain.  If you don’t irrigate, you’re depending on the sky. You’ve definitely got to have a lot of faith to be a farmer.”
        There are other differences, too; some Emma is just noticing.  On the farm she’s working on now, there are no livestock to tend to, so winters are reserved for moving grain — something Emma had never done before.
        “It’s kind of a rush to get everything done in the winter,” she says.  “There is always something to do.”
        Emma documents it all on her social media pages.  While YouTube is her biggest platform, she shares similar content on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and X.  She shares as much as she can, without giving away too many details, like her last name and her exact location. She says when you have such a huge, worldwide audience, you can never be too careful.  But despite that, she has discovered most people are good — especially those who work in agriculture.
        “The camaraderie of agriculture is pretty cool.”
        For Emma, it’s simply a way to help her family understand her work, while at the same time documenting her life and all she’s seen and done and the people she has met.
          You can follow Emma on You Tube (ag with emma - YouTube), as well as on all other social media platforms, including Tik Tok (TikTok - Make Your Day), Instagram (Emma (@agwithemma) • Instagram photos and videos), Facebook (Facebook) and X (X ( — Jody Kerzman
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