Fun on the farm
Barbie mentorship program offers hands-on experience
A young girl had the chance to live the farm life for a day
“She showed me how to drive a combine,” Jillian Fehr said. “She showed me all the different parts on the combine and how they work.”
The company that creates the plastic figurine ‘Barbie’ selected Jillian for a mentorship program called ‘You Can Be Anything.’
The contest hopes to inspire girls around the world to chase their passion. The seven-year-old was selected to work with local farmer Cherilyn Nagel and harvest lentils in the field last week.
“I think it’s amazing that we can offer a mentorship type program to the next generation. I’m definitely willing to spend some time to teach a young a girl what it’s like to be a farmer today,” said Cherilyn Nagel, a farmer from Mossbank.
“She’s super excited and we’re just as excited to have her here at harvest time”
Living in Assiniboia, Fehr’s mother Jolen entered her into the contest.
“We were pretty excited she had the chance to do this. It’s very hands-on and very educational for her to be able to see the plant, to the seed, to what you can actually make with that grain,” Jolen said.
Jillian had the opportunity to learn about the history of the Nagel family farm and the entire farm-to-table process.
“We really tried to show the whole picture of what goes on, what we grow and how it’s connected,” Nagel said. “One of her favourite foods happened to be macaroni and we grow durum here, so it was great to tell her the story of our durum wheat that makes the macaroni noodles.”
Watching from the sidelines, Jolen was thrilled watching her daughter drive a combine with Nagel.
“I’m super excited to see her get that chance and to see the women out here drive all this big equipment. I think it’s very empowering.” Jolen said.
Out in the fields, the two harvested canola crops and afterwards Jillian spent some time in the farm kitchen with her family using canola oil.
As agriculture enters the new millennia, Nagel said it’s great to see more young people exploring it as a potential career.
“I think there’s a narrow viewpoint of what it means to be a farmer but in truth there’s something for everybody in this industry,” she said. “The more we can showcase the industry, the more young people are going to be considering agriculture as a potential career.”
While farm business has traditionally been perceived as a career suitable for boys, Nagel likes seeing more girls interested in the job.
“I think there’s a pretty strong message today from Barbie’s new theme of ‘You Can Be Anything’. We certainly believe girls can pick the career that their heart desires. We have two daughters here on the farm and it’s important they understand that agriculture is a potential career for them if they choose it and for any other girls.”
As an adolescent growing up in Moosbank, Nagel didn’t want to be a farmer at first.
“I didn’t think I wanted to be a farmer when I was Jillian’s age, but I’ve come full circle and I understand this industry has more than enough options for me and other girls.”
When Nagel and Jillian finished in the field, they both sat down and enjoyed a scrumptious meal made with produce from the farm. Lentil brownies and chickpea chili with a dash of lentils were on the menu.
This is not the Jillian’s first foray into farming. At their home in Assiniboia, Jolen and Jillan spend ample time doing urban farming.
“She definitely has expressed an interest in growing food. We have a garden and she loves gardening with me,” Jolen said. “She’s always excited to pick and eat what we grow, and share what we grow in our gardens.”
Whether or not Jillian decides to become a farmer when she grows up, Jolen just hopes her daughter picks a job she loves to do.
In 2016, ‘Barbie’ gave four young girls the opportunity to consider many different careers.
Jillian Fehr poses for a photo in the fields with her Barbie doll.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Claire Nagel, Addison Nagel, Cherilyn Nagel, Jolen Fehr, Jillian Fehr and Mark Fehr enjoy a time out at the Nagel farm learning about agriculture.