Ruth Ready wants young people to know that agriculture is just as much about science as medicine is
By Diego Flammini
Ruth Ready knows a thing or two about science.
The cash crop and beef producer from Scribner, Neb. has an agronomy degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. And her husband, Sid, is a high school science teacher.
This International Women’s Day, Ready wants all young people, not just young women, to understand that agriculture is science.
And she’s encouraging others with an interest in science to consider agriculture as a career. Oftentimes, students wanting to study this subject are steered towards another field.
“When a student likes science, schools will try to guide them to the medical field,” Ready told Farms.com. “And while that’s fantastic, it’s important to realize that agriculture is all about science. We have to take a ‘food first’ approach, and apply all of our science and understanding, or we don’t go anywhere else. Agriculture in the basis for everything that goes on in the world.”
The family farm in Scribner is next to the farm Ruth’s grandparents homesteaded in 1870.
As a child, Ready spent many days walking through soybean fields pulling weeds.
“That’s what I did when I was 12,” she said. “That was my first paid job.”
But if Ready could speak to her 12-year-old self now, she’d tell her that agriculture provides multiple ways to contribute and encourage her to persevere during tough times.
“I’d tell her to look at all the opportunities that agriculture provides, from production agriculture to genetics to everything else,” she said. “And don’t ever let the naysayers tell you it’s a bad time to go into agriculture. Everything is cyclical in nature. When I got out of college in the 1980s, things were bad but there were good things coming. Things may be bad now, but they’ll get better.”
Being a farmer and working in ag suits Ruth because she likes the outdoors.
“I would almost rather do something I don’t like if it means I can be outside,” she said.
Her mother, Dorothy, however, was the opposite and wasn’t a fan of labor-intensive work.
“She was not into the hard labor everyday outside work,” Ruth said.
But because she contributed what needed to be done and made the most of the talents she had, Ruth views her mom as an ag hero.
“She was a bookkeeper by trade and I know she used all of that talent to make the farm better for her and my dad (Arland),” Ruth said. “My parents were children of the (Great) Depression, and my mother knew how to maximize every drop of income. I don’t think there are defined roles on a farm based on your gender. I think it’s using whatever talents and skills you have to contribute to the farm.”