Women in agriculture awardee applies NRCS knowledge to family farm – Farm and Dairy


Katie Fitzsimmons feeds her beef cattle some grain at her farm in Acquired hereron, West Virginia, Aug. 27. The cow are primarily previousure-enhanced, however get some grain As quickly as they transfer to A particular area, and cattle Fitzsimmons sfinishs to market are grain accomplished. (Sarah Donaldson photograph)

CAMERON, W.Va. — On Hazel Dell Farm and at her job with the Pure Assets Conservation Service, Katie Fitzsimmons is all about education — for completely different farmers, and for herself.

At area days and conferences, “I On A daily basis say, Do You’d like to don’t stroll out of right here studying one new factor, I didn’t do my job. But As quickly as I don’t stroll out of tright here studying one factor, I didn’t do my job for myself, both,” Fitzsimmons said. “It’s nonetheless a studying expertise, And also you should maintain educated, And also you should know what’s Occurring.”

Fitzsimmons enhances beef cattle Collectively with her household in Acquired hereron, West Virginia. She has furtherly labored with completely different farmers and landpersonalers in a quantity of completely different roles On the NRCS Over the previous 18 years. Recently, she was Definitely one Of 4 women to be honored by the West Virginia Division of Agriculture with the 2021 West Virginia Women in Agriculture award.


Fitzsimmons grew up on her household farm. Getting involved in 4-H and FFA was A no brainer. She conagencyed market lambs, hogs and steers On the county truthful. She was a state FFA officer in 2001, and later received her American FFA diploma. These teams helped her develop her public talking expertise, and get greater at maintaining data on the farm.

Rising up, Fitzsimmons needed to be a practiceer. Good expertises Collectively with her ag practiceer and FFA in Highschool nudged her in the direction of agriculture education, which she studied at West Virginia College. But in school, she got The prospect to work for the Pure Assets Conservation Service as a soil tester over the summer time. The agency invited her again for extra internships over The subsequent two summer occasions.

“I Sort of fell in love with it, as a Outcome of not solely did I get to work with farmers and work with conservation, however I nonetheless got that instructional facet of it,” she said.

Issues like organizing area days, bringing in audio system for dinner conferences with farmers and working workshops and packages with youth give Fitzsimmons The prospect to Get entangled with education by way of NRCS.

Coming house

After school, Fitzsimmons didn’t anticipate To return again to the northern panhandle. She decided she’d work in completely different spaces of the state. And for A wright hereas, she did. Although she maintained involved with the household farm and had cattle at her dad’s place, she was typinamey simply In a place To return house To Assist on the weekfinishs.

Then, in 2008, Fitzsimmons, who was working as a soil conservationist in Fairmont On the time, got An alternative To return again to the northern panhandle as a district conservationist.

Her grandfather furtherly handed away in 2008. She purchased his house, and her father and aunt purchased her An further 28 acres, So as that she might Get back to the farm. Now, she and her dad and sister farm together. Her land Is true subsequent to her dad’s land, They typinamey enhance beef cattle in previousures on each farms. The cattle are largely previousure enhanced, though they finish cattle going to market on grain.

Parts of the farm have been in her household for A few century. She enjoys Engaged on land that her grandfather farmed, though she wants she might have Get back to farm with him earlier than he died. Although the farm has been Inside the household For A very Very prolonged time, they aren’t farming precisely how Fitzsimmons’ ancestors did.


Work with NRCS has taught Fitzsimmons extra about conservation on her personal farm. When she first started, she didn’t Understand how useful factors like rotating cattle by way of previousures, grazing hay areas, testing soil and using custom-made fertilizers Could be. Now, she does those factors on her farm.

“It’s exhausting for me To inform somebody, ‘right here’s what you ought to do,’ if I’m not doing it myself,” she said.

A lot of the farmers she works with know she has expertise using The identical practices she encourages them to try. That helps her To help them understand the significance of those practices.

Collectively with conservation, Fitzsimmons has made some modifications on advertising and gross sales. The farm used To solely promote freezer beef, however some custom-madeers didn’t have the space Inside their freezers for a half or 1 / 4 of a cow. So, they started promoteing beef by the pound, too.


Fitzsimmons Acquired here across that she was nominated for The women in agriculture award in The identical telephone name that she Acquired here across she was chosen as One of many winners.

Her sister, Tracy Fitzsimmons, helped get The women in agriculture award program started when she labored On the West Virginia Division of Agriculture, years in the past. Tracy now works for the department of agriculture in Virginia. Other women Inside the northern panhandle have received the award earlier than, Fitzsimmons said, however she by no means thought she was in The identical class as them.

“Never In a single million years did I really feel anyone would ever assume that I Should be submitted, or … that I might be chosen,” she said. “I’m extra behind-the-scenes … I don’t Have to be out entrance; I’m okay with standing Inside the again.”

One of the occasions Fitzsimmons has helped arrange for A few decade is a women in agriculture program in her district. Typinamey, Higher than 200 women attfinish. The objective of This method is To practice women about resources out tright here and help them construct the information and confidence to get into farming.

“I really feel tright here are A lot Of women Which have went into ag and have been In a place to show, hey, We will Do this,” Fitzsimmons said. “People Which have come earlier than us have actually blazed that path for us.”

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