Mandan News

Honoring country women

The six finalist for the Country Woman of the Year pose for pictures after Jennifer Holle was announced as the winner. (Dustin White photo)

The six finalist for the Country Woman of the Year pose for pictures after Jennifer Holle was announced as the winner. (Dustin White photo)

Dustin White
Mandan News, editor

It was 21 years ago that the Farm and Ranch Guide’s Country Woman of the Year program first kicked off. For over two decades, the Farm and Ranch Guide has put on this event in order to honor the hardworking women who help keep area farms and ranches smoothly operating.

While times have changed considerably since the first country woman was honored, with new technological improvements easing portions of the work, the effort that many of these women put into the work has not.

Often, it is easy to overlook the women who are working along with their families, which is why the Farm and Ranch Guide made the decision to honor these unsung heroes.

Hosting the event at the Seven Seas hotel and Water Park in Mandan, area country women were treated to a banquet and entertainment, with the focus on them.

Entertainment
The featured entertainer for the event was Rodney Nelson, a cowboy poet and humorist from Almont, who writes the popular column “Up Sims Creek,” which appears in the Farm and Ranch Guide.

Delighting the audience with stories of his life, as well as some of his unique poetry, Nelson was able to capture the moment.

Relying on his rodeo career, which stretches back to 1956, he offered the four finalists for the Country Woman of the Year some words of wisdom.

“Just remember, judges aren’t always honest,” Nelson joked.

Throughout his act, Nelson was able to keep the audience engaged in what he was saying. Using poetry and humor as a means to relate a variety of messages, he made what he was saying neatly accessible. For many, it was also something that could be related to, which drew the crowd in more.

The focus among Nelson’s work though was honoring women.

“You could always trust the girls not to screw things up,” Nelson said.

Crowning
The major focus of the event, though, was naming this years Country Woman of the Year. Each of the six finalists, with two hailing from the Mandan area, were given a chance to introduce themselves, as well as their families.

While only one of the women would go home with the title, by the support shown for each, there was no doubt each would leave the same way in which they came: winners.

Taking to the stage, each one of the women joined the others, with whom they had now become close friends. With anticipation building, the envelope that contained the name of the individual who would be named this year’s Country Woman of the Year was opened.

Reading the judge’s pick, Jennifer Holle, of rural Mandan, was bestowed the honor. Having been moved to tears, she gracefully accepted the title, while the other finalists congratulated her.

Jennifer Holle
Being named Farm and Ranch Guide’s Country Woman of the Year has added to an exciting year for Holle. Earlier this year, she was also honored by being named Northwest Region Farm Mom of the Year, the first North Dakotan woman to have won that recognition.

Beating out women in nine other states, she joined four other mothers around the country who were picked for the Monsanto Company’s American Farmers Mom of the Year campaign.

“I was so surprised and shocked that I was completely speechless,” she wrote on her blog, “Dairy Dish and Dash.” “It has been such an awesome experience and I am so blessed to stand next to those other farm moms.”

The success has not gone to her head though, as she continues to manage, along with her husband Andrew, Northern Lights Dairy, located south of Mandan.

Instead, these opportunities have given her additional chances to educate the public. Speaking in classrooms, as well as at agricultural shows, Holle said that she loves educating people.

This education has expanded to other venues as well. In May, Holle and her husband opened the doors to their farm in order to allow individuals to see how such a farm operates.

For more information on the Country Woman of the Year, go to www.FarmandRanchGuide.com.

Additional photos of the event are available in our photo section of the website.

Jennifer Holle, of rural Mandan, was named the 2014 Country Woman of the Year. (Dustin White photo)

Jennifer Holle, of rural Mandan, was named the 2014 Country Woman of the Year. (Dustin White photo)