Driven to Explore and Express
Natalina Sents knew early she wasn’t interested in a “regular” job following graduation.
“My definition of success has always been different from my classmates. Get an internship, get a full-time offer, rise up the corporate ladder…that’s a great American dream. It’s awesome. It’s just not mine,” she says.
For Sents (’16 agricultural business) her lightbulb moment came while listening to a speaker from Beck’s Hybrids during an Agricultural Business Club meeting at Iowa State.
“I was moved to tears by the video Craig Spray showed of farmers describing why they choose to farm. It made such an impression,” Sents says. “I just couldn’t forget it. I knew this was something I had to be a part of.”
She approached Beck’s at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Career Day later that semester. They turned her down for an internship and encouraged her to get more experience. She started blogging and took to social media to build her network. Then, she went back to Beck’s the following year.
“I approached them at the next CALS Career Day, and said, ‘I want this internship.’”
Her persistence and the quality of her writing samples got her the job. She attended video shoots and interviewed farmers for the company’s Why I Farm campaign.
“I knew I was home,” she says. Following the internship, she stayed involved with the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative (AgEI). As graduation neared and she was searching for her next move, her mind churned.
She had always wanted to travel to all 50 states. She was a seasoned road-tripper thanks to years of visiting family scattered around the Midwest. She had an undeniable passion for helping farmers tell their stories. With the encouragement of mentors from AgEI, she pitched a “crazy idea” to her former supervisors at Beck’s.
“I had made up my mind to travel all 50 states in one year to tell farmers’ stories,” she says. “I asked them if they wanted to be a part of my journey.”
A week after graduation she hit the road. In partnership with Beck’s she traveled over 100,000 miles, interviewed more than 100 farm families and hit her goal of reaching all 50 states in one year. While she learned a great deal about American agriculture along the way, she says some of the greatest lessons were about connecting with people.
“I noticed a butterfly effect throughout the year,” she says. “Stories told by one farmer would illustrate how others have impacted their life and how they’ve impacted the lives of others. This interconnected impact of people on one other was a common theme among my visits.”
Sents is still carving out her version of the American dream. She’s busy speaking with groups about her experiences and recently became a digital content editor for Successful Farming.
Read more about Natalina Sents’ Why I Farm road trip online and read her complete story on Erin Brenneman (’04 animal science), of Iowa, and Brandon Wong, of Hawaii.