Starting this Spring, Kathy Hadley of Freeborn & Hadley Family Farms will be the new president of Oregon Aglink for 2023. Alongside her work with Polk County and Oregon Farm Bureaus, Young Farmers & Ranchers, and various commodity associations, Hadley is stepping into her new role at Oregon Aglink with lots of excitement to connect Oregonians with their local farmers.
Q: What’s your background in Oregon and agriculture?
A: My dad’s family farmed in Kansas before coming out to Oregon and purchasing the main “home place” in the 1960s. My mom grew up on a family farm near Eugene where I-5 and Beltline freeways cross today.
Once I was out of diapers, I was pretty much my Dad’s sidekick – I really appreciate that to him it didn’t matter that I wasnt a boy – I got to “help him” with farm stuff, go fishing together, etc. As I got older, I loved getting increasing responsibilities with the farm work. Probably my favorite childhood farm memory is the hay “forts” Dad would build me to ride in down to the back pasture to feed the cows.
I became very involved with 4-H and then FFA, where I was able to rent some land we hadn’t previously farmed for my project. This gave me in-depth production experience as a teen, and I was the only kid in my senior year Personal Finance course to not only know what an IRA was, but already have one! My FFA efforts earned me the State Star Farmer recognition my senior year.
I decided to attend OSU so I could continue farming with my Dad. I was in the University Honors College and a member of the Women’s Rowing Team. I graduated with a double major in Ag Business Management and Ag & Resource Economics, as well as minors in Crop Science and Natural Resource & Environmental Law & Policy. I also completed a Masters in Agriculture because honestly, I had another year of NCAA eligibility and wanted to keep rowing!
Q: What does your life look like today?
Today, I run my family farm with my Dad near Rickreall raising a variety of crops including several species of grass seed, canola, wheat, oats, alfalfa, turnips, and beef cattle. I also joined another family farm when I married my husband Troy. Today, he and I run that operation in the Silverton Hills near Drakes Crossing, raising fine fescue, oats, canola and beef cattle. As my kids have gotten bigger, I have loved the times when we have all three current generations out working in the same field or on the same project.
Q: How did you get involved with Oregon Aglink?
I knew what Oregon Aglink was, but honestly I didn’t know that much about the organization prior to attending the Denim & Diamonds event around ten years ago. After that, I was approached by Geoff Horning, the Executive Director at that time, about joining the board. I had been wanting to do more ag education work through Farm Bureau, which I’m also involved in, so when I had lunch with Geoff and he slid over a brochure that had the words “Promotion & Education” on the cover, I was sold. I have loved working with such a dedicated staff that shows so much appreciation for you just passing along ideas and feedback, and even more so appreciates you for actually volunteering time.
Q: How do you connect your hopes for the future with the work you’ll do this year?
I want to make sure my kids will have the same opportunities as I did to be involved with Oregon agriculture in the future. They’ll be the fourth and sixth generations to work on the two farms in our family. Connecting with the 98% of people who don’t actively farm, helping them understand and value our industry, is the best way to do that.
I want to do anything I can to help raise Oregon Aglink’s ability to connect with and educate those who live and work outside of farming.