If anyone embodies the concept of a New Century Farmer, it would be Hannah Borg.
Borg, 22, is the daughter of Debbie and Terry Borg of Allen, Nebraska. Born in the 20th century she has come of age in the new 21st century.
This year, she was one of 35 students selected by the National FFA Organization to participate in the five-day New Century Farmer conference, held in July in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“I loved it. I wish it could have been longer,” Borg said. “I love everything FFA. I believe it’s the best college agriculture program.”
While the symposium focused on production agriculture and touched on things such as financing and emerging technology, Borg said it was the networking that she found to be most valuable.
“I met ag students from across the country; from California to Virginia,” she said. “We plan on keeping in touch.”
Being the only student from Nebraska, she was able to meet producers of a variety of commodities. She met people who were going to be growing various vegetables, the owner of a pecan orchard and someone who grew olive trees.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications, Borg has decided to delay a career in that field and make her living on the production side of agriculture.
The decision came after looking through family heritage material her grandmother collected that detailed how her family has been involved with production agriculture across three centuries.
Her ancestors came from Sweden in the 19th century and settled near Wakefield. The family continued to farm at the same location through the 20th and now into the 21st century.
She is the sixth generation to work at the family farm in Wakefield, and she’s involved in the family’s newest endeavor – poultry farming. The Borg’s are one of the largest suppliers for Costco rotisserie chicken.
“It wasn’t an easy transition coming home from college and diving right into the poultry operation,” she said. “Having that network of people [from FFA] helped me feel not so alone.”
Borg said that while her college friends are also experiencing changes as they go through the job search process, she has no one from that group who can empathize with her situation. It has left her feeling somewhat isolated.
While the change from student to farmer has been chaotic, ironically it is that very pandemonium that has helped her focus.
“Every day is figuring out the day-to-day operation. You can have a daily plan, but you need to be able to handle the five things that will pop up,” Borg said. “Right now, I’m building a foundation by working out what my role is on the farm and with the poultry operation.”
In that, she has been able to tap into her education. Having worked nine internships in communications has helped her in dealing with her new boss, she said.
“My boss’s name is Mom,” Borg said. “I have to be able to balance our dynamic with her as my mother and still earn her respect as my boss.”
Complicating matters further is her work with the rest of the family’s farming business. Her father and uncles farm and raise cattle.
“I call myself ‘support staff’ for the rest of the farm,” she said. “I just keep my feet beneath me and my head above water.”
Borg hasn’t entirely renounced working outside of production agriculture. Her mother is a very active member of the Nebraska Corn Board and Rural Radio Network Board. Pursuing an advocate role in the burgeoning Nebraska poultry industry is within the realm of possibilities, she said.
“I love media and broadcasting and I will be exploring my options,” Borg said. “I’ll have to adjust to new endeavors in time.”
One thing is for certain – trying innovative things is nothing new to this young woman. She is, by any definition, a new farmer in a new century.
Jon Burleson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.