By Stefanie Croley
When you spend the better part of two years at home, coping with strange adjustments to your regular routine, time starts to get a bit arbitrary. Throw in a challenging (to say the least!) growing season and things really start to feel like Groundhog Day.
Yet, time marches on, and somehow, it’s November again. As harvest wraps up and the end of the year draws close, many of us spend time reflecting on the events and decisions that shaped the way the year played out. It can be easy to look back and question why things happened the way they did, and feel frustrated, disappointed and even angry about the result. It’s OK to feel those feelings – they are valid and warranted. But as I was reminded in a recent interview, when you are ready to move forward, your reaction and attitude are what matter most.
That advice comes from Kelsey Banks, a farmer and agronomist in Ontario who publicly shared her experience fighting brain cancer on Twitter with the greater ag community. When she was diagnosed in January 2020, Kelsey was just 26 years old and had recently come back to her roots, farming with her family and working as an agronomist with Embrun Co-op. The diagnosis was a blow – as Kelsey shared in our conversation, “I thought at first that my career was over . . . I’ve worked so hard and I’ve done a lot, but I felt like my career was over because I [could not] continue to work.”
Kelsey said the support from her network and community was encouraging as she moved through her journey with cancer. So many people she had met throughout her career and life showed up for her, checking in and cheering her on. “I couldn’t control that I got cancer. It happened. But I could control my attitude and who I connected with still. It goes to show you, this is a great industry to be in.”
Through our Influential Women in Canadian Agriculture program, I’ve been fortunate to speak with Kelsey and several other women from across the country who work in various roles throughout the industry. These women have shared their experiences, wisdom and advice with us, answering questions about challenges, adversity, strengths and accomplishments. You can watch the interview with Kelsey and all of the other women at agwomen.ca. All of their stories are unique, and in some way, they have all faced obstacles and challenges that impact the next steps on their paths. Their words are reminders that each day, we are all faced with big and small challenges, and our attitudes determine the next steps.
This past season may not have yielded the results you hoped for, and it’s OK to admit that. There is always room to sit quietly with a challenge and give space to feelings and emotions. But when you are ready, you can choose to take steps to shift forward, reach out for help and continue on down the road.