Agriculture has always been a part of Jennifer Thogmartin’s way of life
Jennifer Thogmartin is the oldest of four siblings and grew up in Diamond, Mo., on a cattle and turkey farm.
Her dad taught agriculture and had a custom hay baling operation. When Jennifer was 3, he came home to farm full-time, so she grew up baling hay alongside her dad.
Jennifer and her siblings showed cattle and helped around on the farm with the day-to-day chores.
“My dad always included us in whatever was going on at the farm,” Jennifer said.
When Jennifer was young, she thought she wanted to vet, just like every other young farm kid dreams of. She spent a lot of time working with her dad and watching local veterinarian Harold “Doc” Haskins with the cattle.
“The things I learned from my dad and grandparents and watching how Doc Haskins interacted with people were probably the biggest influences in my life,” she said.
Jennifer was active in the Spring Valley 4-H and the Diamond FFA, serving as a chapter and area officer, and the Missouri Junior Cattleman and Farm Bureau. In high school she worked for MFA in Neosho, Mo., selling feed, seed and fertilizer, and was a teller/universal banker for Southwest Missouri Bank.
“I always knew I wanted to be involved in ag, but I didn’t exactly know what that looked like,” Jennifer said.
She attended Crowder College in Neosho and Missouri State University in Springfield where she earned a degree in agriculture education.
“I desired to be able to influence the younger generations and teach them about agriculture,” Jennifer said. “Being an ag teacher provides a good mix of lab, instruction and activities.”
Jennifer married her high school sweetheart Lucas Thogmartin nearly 13 years ago and they have two children, Mack (8) and Kate (3).
“Our lifelong goal and dream is to continue the farm and operation. Our kids are the fifth generation who will farm with us on our family farm. That’s always been our number one priority,” Jennifer said.
Lucas has continually been a full-time farmer and has a custom spraying business as well.
Jennifer has taught agriculture for 15 years at Neosho High School. She also helps raise crossbred cattle with Angus and horned Hereford bulls alongside her husband and in-laws. They run 250 cow/calf pairs. Her role on the farm has always been to help out wherever she is needed. She mainly rakes and hauls hay in the summer, helps work calves in the fall and spring and during calving season, and feeds cows in the winter.
“It’s a give and take with my day job in town versus what needs to be done on the farm. I do as much as I can, but sometimes scheduling gets to be a little difficult, especially with two kids and their activities,” she said.
“Earlier this year we were faced with a crossroads because the cattle markets were so volatile and for us to diversify our operation. We decided in January we were going to start selling beef off the farm.”
Jennifer and her husband made plans to start Thogmartin Cattle Company and began selling beef in March.
“It has been a big blessing for our family and the cattle company has really taken off.”
It has been a way for them to diversify and look at ways they can grow and prepare for future. They also utilize local processors.
“A lot of people find a since of pride in buying local,” she said.
Her role in the new venture is sales, marketing and promotion, and has found she enjoys that side of it.
“Our goal as a family has always been to include our kids as much as possible and I feel like that’s important to get them involved at an early age to see what goes on and understand the operation and have an appreciation for everything that is happening. When you have a multigeneration farm it really takes everybody to get the jobs done,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer and Lucas try to stay active in the community as they feel that volunteering is very important. She is on the Newton County Fair Board and is in charge of the market sale. “Our whole family is very involved and loves the fair.”
Jennifer also works with the Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee.
Jennifer said agriculture has always played a significant role in her family and she credits both of her grandparents and her dad for the influence they had and still have on their family.
“I remember when I was in junior high, my dad made me take a medicator apart and rebuild it. He told me that I would need this one day and I told him I was never having turkey houses.”
Several years into teaching she found out he was absolutely right.
“Low and behold that’s the same thing they use to put fertilizer in greenhouses,” she said.
“When you’re farming alongside your husband and your in-laws, I think sometimes you just go through the motions and once you have kids and you bring them into the operation, it really takes on a whole new meaning.”