GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — Colleen Peppler isn’t just “the farmer’s wife.”
She knows at times in her career that she’s been looked at as one — just the sidekick or the supporter. But she’s more than that. In fact, she’s been a partner in a business for 33 years.
It just so happens her business partner is her husband, Kent Peppler, former president of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and she inherited his family’s farm with him when they married 33 years ago. Together, they operate Peppler Farms, a fifth-generation farming operation near Platteville.
Peppler, 57, has been breaking stereotypes since she was a kid growing up on a dry land wheat farm in Akron. According to stereotypes, Peppler said, farmers tend to be uneducated men. She’s neither.
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Being one of three daughters, Peppler learned quickly how to help out on her family’s farm, and she wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. She went on to pursue a degree in family and consumer science at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, finishing it at Colorado State University. She has a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from CSU, too, and retired after 31 years of experience in education, working as a teacher and assistant principal for the St. Vrain Valley School District.
After she retired, she decided to dedicate the rest of her life to her first love.
“I’m getting back to the love of things I used to like to do,” Peppler said, “and that’s being involved in agriculture.”
Peppler Farms has about 500 irrigated acres, and Peppler said she and her husband farm alfalfa hay, silage corn, wheat and beer barley for Coors brewery. She manages the farm’s properties and is involved in day-to-day decisions of the farm’s operations. She’s had stints in organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and Colorado Young Farmers. She now sits as president for the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture’s Colorado Ag in the Classroom and volunteers for CommonGround Colorado, which is part of a national movement that helps connect women who buy food with women who grow it.
“I can relate to the person that is buying the food in the home,” she said. “As a person in agriculture, I’m not going to produce something that’s not safe for my family, so I wouldn’t do that with anybody else’s family.”
Clearly, educating is one of Peppler’s passions. It gives her the opportunity to speak to the public about agriculture as an advocate who informs consumers of the misinformation surrounding food and farming, she said.
Another passion of Peppler’s is breaking stereotypes. Man or woman, there’s a lot of education and knowledge behind farming, such as figuring out how to use and implement new technology on crops. She strives to break the bib-overall, straw-hat, male farmer stereotype any chance she can.
Peppler said she loves watching women break though the ag industry, whether that’s a woman taking over a state leadership position or a woman buying her first acre of land. Although she admitted farming is hard work and that land can be expensive if women can’t inherit a family farm, she said women can do anything they put their minds to.
She’s living proof.
“As a female, if you set your mind to do it, you’ll find a way to make it work, whether that’s in agriculture or anything else,” Peppler said.
Information from: The Tribune of Greeley, Co, http://greeleytribune.com