Kari Olson’s passion for agriculture started at a young age. Growing up, Olson watched both of her parents work on the farm and became involved as soon as she could. As a child, one of her favorite subjects in school was science because she loved experimenting and conducting trials, not unlike her current job as a farmer.
Throughout her childhood, Olson was surrounded by a strong and supportive team of agriculturalists who encouraged her to think outside the box and work hard.
“I had a dad that gave me the freedom to try new things, fail and learn from mistakes,” Olson said. “My grandparents and parents have always been ones to think ahead, and they aren’t afraid of being different.”
The support from her family has allowed their operation to stay alive for the next generation. While Olson was in college, her father experienced a health scare, leaving him unable to run the farm alone. Olson recalls the sacrifices her family made for her so that she could continue chasing her dreams.
“My sister, Nicole, quit her job, moved home and farmed with him so I could finish college before farming full time,” Olson said. “I am forever grateful for the sacrifices she and her family made.”
After graduating from NDSU with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and a minor in crop and weed sciences, she began working on the family farm, along with a part-time job at NDSU. Now, her family is starting the process of turning the operation over to the fourth generation: Kari, her farming partner Owen and his wife.
This year, Olson is a Farm Woman of the Year finalist. Her dedication to implementing soil health practices into her family’s operation is one of the many reasons for her nomination. Her farm is a 100% no till operation that grazes cover crops, fulfilling the mission to become stewards of the land.
“It is quite an honor to be recognized, but an even bigger honor to be selected along with the other 4 hard-working females in the industry who work to feed the world,” said Olson, who serves as treasurer of the Clay Wilkin Corn and Soybean Growers.
As a farm woman, Olson recognizes the importance of impacting the next generation of farm women.
“My ‘why’ for farming is hearing my 4-year-old niece tell others about what she learns on the farm each day,” Olson said. “I feel like very few kids know what a soybean aphid is but she picks up on those things just by spending her days in the cab with me. She has fueled my desire to teach the young ones and provide opportunities for the next generation.”
Her advice to the next generation is to build a team.
“There are many responsibilities on a farm, and you cannot tackle them all yourself. A good team is crucial to your success,” Olson said.
Olson doesn’t just talk the talk; she walks the walk and has built a dependable team to support the farming operation.