Meet Farmer Carole Willis
The Dirt on the Farm
Farm Family: Three generations work on the farm with Carole – husband Bob, son Donald and grandson Cory.
Crops & Livestock: corn, wheat, soybeans, beef cattle and dairy replacement heifers (a replacement heifer is a female cow raised with the intention of replacing older cows to improve a herd)
Farm Location: Hillsboro in Coffee County
Farm Bureau Membership: 28 years
Hobbies: Loves to paint – she designed and painted the quilt on their barn.
How were you introduced to agriculture?
The only farming I did before I married Bob was helping my dad paint fence posts, so I learned a lot when I married a farmer. I feel like I have the best of both worlds now. When I come home to the farm I can fully relax, but I still teach and do student-teaching for Middle Tennessee State University, which challenges me. I love to come home and not feel any pressures of city life.
Why is the Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee important to you?
I enjoy being around people with the same passion in farming. The moral lifestyle with the Farm Bureau and farm life is so respected and needed in society today. I have been on the state committee for three or four years, and it’s rewarding to be more involved than I ever was before. Farmwomen are often in the shadows because the farmer is the one who provides and grows the crops, but I think more women are stepping up with their vocal support and that’s important.
Farm Bureau has helped me to speak up and help people understand what is involved on the farm. One of the ways we do that is through Agriculture in the Classroom. Through AITC workshops, we are able to share with teachers not only about agriculture, but how to share and teach it within the classroom. We also host a farm day where elementary-age students come out to the farm for a hands-on glimpse of farm life. I remember one particular farm day a child saying, “You have everything, and it’s all so neat.” We take it for granted because we see it every day.
What are your biggest challenges and blessings on the farm?
The biggest challenge is adapting to whatever is thrown at you that day. I remember having to chase cattle on the interstate at midnight one evening and still get up the next morning and teach at MTSU. My biggest blessing is being able to look out my window every morning and see the farm and mountains – life is pretty good!
How do you share your story?
Other teachers have a natural curiosity about what we do on the farm. I’ve had parties for my teachers, and they would drive the 55 miles to get here, and then want to ride the tractor and go on a hayride. I am able to share stories of raking hay, or of the time when even the tractors and trucks couldn’t get through the snow, but my new four-wheel drive Jeep got through to be able to milk the cows. Sharing fun things that happen on the farm and how involved farming is – they think, wow, this is what has to be done in order for us to get our food.