Gregg Patterson 2017-08-19 00:33:50
Hard Work and Family Living and loving the farm life You can’t help but smile when you’re around Jenna Martin. She is a bundle of positive energy, and she loves to talk about how important agriculture is, especially rice farming. Martin is a former Miss Arkansas Rice, so she has a lot of experience being in front of people and telling them the rice story. Martin loves living on the farm and spending time with her dad, Dennis. “I’ve always lived on a farm ever since I was adopted. You learn more about hard work, and you learn about family,” Martin said. She was adopted from Russia when she was 16 months old. Martin was home-schooled. This afforded her more time out on the farm with her father. And when she talks about being out on the farm, she’s not kidding. “I was able to take off from school, go help him and come in later that night and do my homework,” she said. “I get to work with dad. This is a family farm. It’s our headquarters, It’s where we work every day,” she said. “He’s always teaching me new things, so it’s always a learning experience.” The Hickory Ridge farm is 1,850 acres with parts in Cross, Woodruff and Jackson counties. They grow rice, soybeans and milo. Now in college, Martin is pursuing degrees in agriculture communications and ag business. Vivacious, delightful and well spoken, Martin is a perfect blend of beauty and brains who doesn’t mind getting dirt under her fingernails. She looks forward to regular visits from Cooperative Extension Service agent Rick Wimberly and Ron Baker. The Martin farm has a Rice Research Verification Field that’s part of the University of Arkansas’ ag research program. Donning knee-high boots and armed with a long-handled collection net, she nearly disappears into a rice field, looking for insects, weeds and diseases that could damage the rice plants. You just can’t get this kind of hands-on knowledge in a college classroom. “It’s really a learning experience, because I learn something new every week out there,” Martin said. She says Wimberly and Baker will then lay out everything the three of them collect in front of her and quiz her, asking Martin to identify insects and weeds. On this day, they use their collection nets to sweep for stink bugs, and they also check the base of the plant around the roots for sheath blight. Martin spent her year as Miss Arkansas Rice sharing the story of rice production in Arkansas. “I’ve always had a passion for agriculture and farming, and I believe more people need to know about it. If you eat, you’re involved in agriculture, and I believe everyone needs to know what farmers do,” she said. “Arkansas is No. 1 for rice (production), and a lot of people here don’t even know that.” Martin has operated just about every piece of farm machinery, laid poly pipe and spills in rice fields. She’s never afraid to learn something new. “Learning and doing stuff on the farm builds your self-confidence. It prepares you for so many things,” she said. Jenna Martin has a bright future in front of her. She knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. “In the future, I plan to still be a part of the farm. I want to be in a partnership with dad then eventually take over,” she said. “Everyone is supportive of me going into farming. She’s also interested in a career in ag communications and the opportunities her college degrees will open to her. “No matter what I do, it’s going to be in agriculture.”
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