Grace Brose

Grace Brose of Box Elder, S.D., poses by an Ag Day poster in Washington, D.C., last month. Her essay on farm life won her a trip and a scholarship.

Agriculture is about family tradition, but it’s also about science and innovation, and that prospect is something that excites Grace Brose.

Brose is a senior at New Underwood High School in western South Dakota. She and her family moved to Box Elder from rural North Dakota about six years ago. She thought that at this point in her life she’d want to leave the small towns behind and move on to something bigger and better, but she’s realized, she said, that family farms provide opportunities to do amazing things.

“There are new and exciting breakthroughs happening right here, right now, today,” she said.

Brose recently won a scholarship essay contest that earned her a trip to Washington, D.C., where she was able to share her perspective on agriculture and the traditions of the family farm.

Brose didn’t grow up on a farm, but she’s been around farming and ranching all her life. Her grandparents, Loren and Deanne Hagen, farm near Williston, North Dakota, and she enjoyed riding in the tractor with her grandpa. Since moving to Box Elder, South Dakota, with her mom, Amanda Brose, and her three brothers, she’s been surrounded by a community where farming and ranching is the way of life. Now, Brose regularly helps her boyfriend with ranch work.

Being around people who love to work the land and watch things grow, she’s seen a wholesome love for agriculture, she said.

“It can be humbling,” she said.

That’s what she tried to convey while serving on a panel with college students in front of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., March 14 ahead of National Ag Day.

Her winning essay talked about the traditions of family farms and the love farmers have for the land. She set the scene following a small boy from his childhood days of playing in the dirt to his later days as an old man with hands weathered from years of hard work.

“I think it’s a story a lot of people can relate to,” she said.

The story was one she wrote as a sophomore for a speech on soil health – which won the state Resource Conservation Speech Contest. When she presented the speech in front of the high school principal, she made her cry.

“She said, ‘that sounds just like my dad,’” Brose said.

The essay contest, sponsored by the Agriculture Council of America, earned Brose and her mom a trip to D.C., and Brose received a $1,000 scholarship. It was the second time an essay won her a trip to the nation’s capital. She went last year with a group sponsored by rural electric cooperatives.

Brose isn’t certain where life will take her after graduation. She’s deciding between South Dakota State University and Columbia University, and she said she’s looking forward to exploring electives that she hasn’t had the opportunity to try in her small town school.

One thing she won’t rule out is someday returning to the rural Midwest.

Janelle is editor of the Tri-State Neighbor, covering South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, northwestern Iowa and northeastern Nebraska. Reach her at or follow on Twitter @JLNeighbor


Janelle is editor of the Tri-State Neighbor, covering South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, northwestern Iowa and northeastern Nebraska.