March 20 marks National Ag Day, an American holiday created to celebrate the merits of agriculture and farming. This holiday means a lot to Team Oliver, and not just because we’re a business that services the agriculture sector. We are a business that was bred by the agriculture sector!
Many of us grew up among ranchers and farmers and have lived and breathed agriculture our entire lives. Our own Melanie Knapp, Controller, comes from Knapp Farms in Rocky Ford, Colorado. If you’ve ever visited Oliver in the summer, then you’re definitely familiar with Rocky Ford cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelons. Well, Knapp Farms is responsible for some of those melons, and, along with other local producers, they’ve given Rocky Ford the namesake of Melon Capital of the World.
Melanie says that agriculture was a part of growing up for her. “We never even thought of it as agriculture. We thought of it as a way of life,” she says. At Knapp Farms, the whole family chips in to the family business. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews — everybody had a job, whether that was manning the cash registers or unloading product fresh from the fields. “I think that’s what Ag is for a lot of us,” she says. “It’s a way of life!”
Executive Administrative Marketing Assistant Devon Ingo and her family breed cattle, and she was heavily involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America) and 4-H during her grade school years. In a way, National Ag Day brought her back to her youth.
“The 4-H and FFA programs are both youth programs that teach children responsibility, leadership and have a rural edge,” Devon says. “I was a member of the 4-H program for 10 years and the FFA program for all four years of high school. Through these programs I raised livestock (sheep and cattle to be specific).”
She made sure to point out that raising livestock was not a task to be taken lightly. “I raised my sheep all spring and summer, and it was my responsibility to feed and water them and clean up after them. Come mid summer, I would get another set of sheep and raise them ’till winter! Raising sheep taught me responsibility that I would have never learned anywhere else. Those animals depended on me to survive. As a 12-year-old, that’s a lot.”
Whether one grew up working on the family farm, participated in school and community ag-related events, or got a job at the local seed processing and conditioning manufacturer, one thing is clear: the agriculture lifestyle is one that rewards a hard work ethic and a strong sense of responsibility.
“The leadership skills I learned from both 4-H and FFA are priceless,” says Devon. “It taught me social skills, public speaking, being a leader to a large group, and taking full responsibility to projects and deadlines. All at such a young age! Not only did that help me in school, it helps me now in my career. Determination, dedication and knowing what it’s like to haul feed, stack hay, and make sure your animals eat before you puts a whole new perspective on life.”