By Debra Helbach

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021

What a journey we all have been on in 2020. If ever it felt good to close the door on a year and move on to the next, I’d have to say it’s this one. We have been thrust into a world-wide pandemic and have had to navigate all the trials and tribulations that it brings. Having said that, there have been generations before us that have been through a great deal as well. They have endured many hardships and made it through. We are resilient and innovative and will persevere, too.

I would be remiss not to say that, even though it brought significant challenges, the past year has opened our eyes and taught us many valuable lessons. We also learned how dependent upon each other we really are no matter one’s status or job title. We all are linked to each other in ways we probably never realized before until now.

When I first started to write for the Jensen Community Spirit this past spring, little did I know that I would be embarking on writing articles that would be educating others about agriculture during a pandemic. I have a sincere gratitude to the Spirit that has allowed me to “agvocate” and highlight both our young and older, well-seasoned community members in agriculture in our local newspaper. Also, gratitude to our community for reading my articles and letting me entertain their minds and providing me with their feedback.

Highlighting those involved in the agricultural industry this past year has been an honor. The agricultural industry is something my family and I are passionate about. It’s an industry worth championing; it’s more than a job, it’s a lifestyle that cultivates who we are from a young age and one we hope for our younger generations to carry on. At times it can be frustrating to see others who have a much larger, unique platform that reaches so many people choose to give damaging opinions on agriculture, without ever having stepped foot on a farm or having talked to a farmer directly. Through the Spirit, I have been able to provide firsthand information, having conversations with those directly involved in agriculture and further help promote the industry and acknowledge the farmer that gets up every day of the year, working substantial hours through any type of weather to provide resources for both you and me. Knowledge is power, and my hope is for others to never be afraid to ask questions and to seek out answers directly from the source.

A special thank to all those who have graciously allowed me to interview them and share their story with our community and beyond. I’ve had the opportunity to witness the smiling faces and laughter from those capturing pictures taken amongst the sunflowers, watched youth work alongside their parents in the barn, listened to a seasoned couple fondly recall memories of growing up on their family farm, to hearing of many groups that visited the apple orchard and all the fun and memories that surely brought a smile to their face. For me, those are priceless memories.

I would love to continue to write more articles, but need your help. I think it’s so important to preserve our stories for future generations. Would you be willing to share some of your family’s past or present agricultural history? Do you have a special story you’d like to share? Please reach out to me at debrahelb@wi-net.com. If you prefer not to share with me, I hope you’ll take the time to reminisce with family, friends, and neighbors or even take a few minutes here and there to write down some special memories.

Wishing you all the best in 2021!

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