Self-Care for Farmers, Communication & Finding Balance Discussed During Summer Farmers Union Enterprise Seminar

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When it comes to challenges, we all have the opportunity to choose how we will react. This was one of many relevant messages delivered during the Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Seminar held June 2019 in Wisconsin.  

“Given the planting season we just came off of, it is good to be mindful of that fact that yes, the environment stinks and planting season stinks, but I still make my own decision of how I am going to react to it,” explains De Smet farmer, Rob Lee.

When faced with a challenge, the presenter encouraged agriculture producers to take a moment to reflect on the situation. “Is this an inconvenience or a real problem,” explains Darci Lee, Rob’s wife.


Rob and Darcie represent South Dakota in the one-year program that hosts a farm or ranch couple from each of the following five states: North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana. The Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program was developed to substantiate and empower future leaders for rural America and Farmers Union through leadership, citizenship and policy development training.

 In addition to discussing ways to address challenges, communication, self-care and navigating personal and professional balance were also discussed. “This seminar gave us an opportunity to discuss our priorities and how to be better communicators with others and our spouse,” Darcie says.

She adds that they benefited from time spent discussing the topics with other agriculture producers. “It is interesting how even though our operations look much different, we face similar challenges and struggles.”

Tours to a cranberry bog and robotic dairy were also part of the four-day seminar. The cranberry bog is owned by farmers who belong to the Ocean Spray cooperative. And, the robotic dairy is owned by family farmers who milk 160-head of dairy cows.

“Learning about different types of agriculture helped us think outside-the-box,” Darcie explains. “We began talking about ways we can be more efficient on our farm.”

Getting more involved is another take-away the Lees mention. “This program is steering us in a direction to become more comfortable getting involved,” Rob says.

Darcie adds that the first day home, the State Policy Meeting flyer was in their mail. “Before participating in this seminar, I would probably ignore the flyer since the meeting is during the day, on a Wednesday. But now, I feel like we should go and see if we have input to share. Nothing will change in our favor if we do not get involved.”

More about Rob and Darcie Lee

Rob and Darcie raise crops and a small herd of alpaca near De Smet. In addition to the farm, Darcie is a nurse, working at Horizon Health Care Clinic in De Smet and Rob works as a crop insurance adjustor. The couple have two young children, 3-year-old Everett and 9-month-old Rosene.

Rob’s dad, Roger, introduced him to Farmers Union. Rob helped lobby Congressional Leaders on behalf of South Dakota agriculture during the 2018 D.C. Fly-In and then took the policy advocacy skills he gained in D.C. and put them to work during SDFU Legislative Day in Pierre.

Throughout their year of involvement in Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program, the Lee’s will provide members with Union Farmer updates. To learn more about this program and how to get involved, contact Karla Hofhenke at Karla@sdfu.org.


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