Grayce Emmick first sat behind the wheel of a combine as a 9-year-old girl. Under the watchful eye of her father Dan, she operated the machine by herself, which would prove to alter her future forever.
“It was so empowering to me,” Emmick said. “It literally just changed everything.”
Emmick, who is now 18 years old, and a freshman at Western Kentucky University, is still operating heavy equipment on the 200-year-old farm her family owns in nearby Lewisport.
“I have a real love for agriculture,” Emmick said of her passion. “The future of our farm rests on my shoulders. I can’t imagine ever doing anything else”
This fall, Emmick’s love for farming landed her a nomination for the “Farmer in All of Us” program sponsored by the National FFA Convention and the Ram truck brand. One of three national finalists, Emmick was selected after a series of phone interviews and a photo submission. The “Farmer in All of Us’’ campaign honors individuals who have made a significant impact within their agricultural communities.
A short video by Ram Trucks featuring Grayce Emmick was released in October and is now empowering a whole new generation.
“If it’s your dream, then, by all means, go after it,” Emmick said in response to comments about “gender roles” and vocation. “I feel strongly that rules need not apply.”
The Agricultural field depends on young farmers like Emmick, and the future regarding youth involvement in Ag careers within Western Kentucky looks bright.
“One of the biggest blessings for ag families here in Daviess County is the support of some exceptional school districts within the region,” said Clint Hardy of the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service. “The future is bright. Programs like FFA and 4-H are a huge support and tribute to our local youth both male and female interested in the field.”
Hardy credits a combination of “outstanding schools and family traditions” as the boost needed to support the some 800 operating farms within the county.
“Agriculture is evolving as a business and is thriving as a result of many factors,” Hardy said. In regard to growth within the tri-state area, Hardy added, “there is vast opportunity within our region, that’s a huge benefit to local farm families.”
Like Grayce Emmick, there are many first and second generation farmers within the region. Hardy added that the enduring perseverance of Ag families is a true testament of commitment.
“In farming, there are times that are for better or worse,” Hardy said. “It’s the love that these families have, season after season, that keeps producing farmers generation after generation.”
When asked if she has ever had her own doubts about farming for a living, Emmick admitted that there have been times when she felt the pressure to sway from her calling.
“I’m not in this profession to be successful financially; I do this because this is what I love,” Emmick said. “When others see my accomplishments, they know my heart.”
Daviess County is rich in productive soil and the security of “off-farm” income for farm family members, which is another added benefit to youth interested in pursuing a career in agriculture.
Whether it be corn, soy or tobacco, the literal thousands of acres within Daviess and surrounding counties have withstood the test of time, and will most likely thrive for years to come. Grayce Emmick hopes to challenge the farmers of tomorrow to look past what farming is “supposed to look like.”
“This isn’t about being female,” Emmick said, addressing stereotypes associated with vocation and gender. “This is about pursuing what you’re passionate about no matter what.”
Emmick hopes to encourage individuals to achieve success and happiness on their own terms and within their own time frame.
Perhaps one of Western Kentucky’s most valuable resources may have grown from the soil within Lewisport a mere 30 miles from Owensboro inspiring the “farmer in all of us.”