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The Agripreneur of Tomorrow
This young agripreneur is intelligent, capable, well-spoken, and committed to agriculture.
By Kevin Spafford, for Farm Futures Magazine
In a bit of self-reflection, Gabriella DeSimone admits that ‘experience’ is her biggest weakness. But she’s not wasting any time or opportunities. She graduated from high school at the age of 17 from Crater High in Central Point, Oregon. Now this May, at 20 years old, she’ll earn a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business, after only three years in college. She says, “Being a part of my family’s business growing up and seeing how hard my parents and siblings work fueled my fire to work as hard as I could in all that I do.”
Don’t let her bright smile and soft voice lull you, Gabriella is committed to agriculture and serious about ranching as a profession. She’s preparing for the long-term by learning from those who came before her. Though she didn’t live on the ranch through her childhood, she grew up working cattle and apprenticing as a ranch-hand under the guidance of her grandfather, Billy Flournoy, and his brothers. She takes nothing for granted and appreciates a family heritage that’s kept the ranch together. “I am extremely thankful for my career on the ranch,” she asserts.
Gabriella’s competitive nature and curious intellect don’t allow for much rest. Beyond her studies and her work at the ranch, she’s involved in the cattle industry’s Young Cattlemen’s Association and is determined to bridge the gap between consumers and producers by someday working with inner city kids. The comprehensive nature of her professional development plan is a good example for others to follow. The objectives and actions of her written plan reflect her ambitious nature:
- Education: Graduate from California State University, Chico with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and a Minor in Spanish – May 2015.
- Experience: Intern at Harris Ranch Beef and participate in working cattle in the pens, feeding, slaughter, and processing. Work summers on the family ranch, Likely Land and Livestock, gain practical experience working with the cattle, employees, and third party alliance partners. Learn how to balance the books, make good decisions, and lead others.
- Industry: Participate in Young Cattlemen’s Conference. Learn to communicate with and educate legislators and other political/civic leaders about the beef community. Upon graduation, begin implementing a plan to bring inner city kids to the ranch to share the miracles of agriculture and the virtues of life on a working cattle ranch.
- Community: Join the other next gen leaders in the town of Likely to revive the community spirit and encourage a sense of pride in rural America. There are currently six young couples who call Likely [population: 99] home and are investing in the future of the community for themselves and their children.
- Consumer: Devise a plan to expose and educate inner city kids to agriculture as a profession and ranching as a rewarding way of life. And continue to use insights and experiences to educate consumers and share the value cattle ranchers bring by providing a plentiful, healthy food supply for all.
- Professional Exposure: Continue to network with other producers and learn from the experiences of those who’ve come before. Take advantage of opportunities in the industry and attend conferences, seminars, and workshops as available.
As Gabriella demonstrates, tomorrow’s aspiring agripreneurs are not unlike the generations of the past, but they execute their plans in a completely different manner. Professional development and a responsibility to the industry are ingrained as a part of the investment they’ll make to enjoy a successful career. Engaging the consumer, not just in a dialogue of ideas but also as a meaningful and necessary part of the production process, is critical to industry growth. And maintaining a respectful relationship with the generations that came before will promote multigenerational success and lasting value.
Gabriella is earnest about her chosen profession and determined to make a difference. She’s in it for the long run and readily admits, “I have my great uncle Johnny to thank for starting the succession planning process.” She recognizes a written plan for professional development is part of a comprehensive succession plan and knows success will be determined by the decisions they make and the actions they take in planning for succession.
Photos courtesy of Gabriella DeSimone.
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