Horizon Award Winner

Nicole Heslip (Michigan Farm Radio Network, East Lansing, MI) said she enjoys being a spokesperson for agriculture. “With less than two million farmers in the nation, I whole heartedly believe not only farmers, but family, friends and agribusiness professionals need to do their part in sharing the agricultural story. I love what my family has done on the farm. Being someone who speaks not only for my family but also for the industry is an amazing opportunity.” 

What does she love about her job? “I love the diversity of Michigan agriculture, second only to California. We grow more than 300 different commodities in Michigan. On any given day, I can be reporting on traditional agronomic crops, dairy, cherries, apples, asparagus, potatoes, hops and even chestnuts. Michigan agriculture, while diverse, is also close-knit.” As a young professional in the industry, Nicole has appreciated the networking and mentoring that has been a part of her job. “People care. It’s more than conducting business, there’s a family atmosphere to it. Just as many farms are family businesses, working on the industry side, I feel as if I’m still part of that larger farming family.” 

How did she get her start?  “My involvement in FFA allowed me to do a few interviews with Michigan Farm Radio Network during high school and college. My true passion growing up was public speaking. I participated in the FFA Greenhand and Prepared Public Speaking contests and served in several leadership roles, including as a Michigan FFA State Officer,” she said. “Some things just seem to fall into place. After graduating from Michigan State University, my goal was to begin a career in Michigan agriculture that served the farm community. When the position at MFRN became available, it seemed it was meant for me. I’ve always been a passionate agricultural communicator and every day I get to do just that.”  

What stimulated her interest in farm broadcasting? “It all started with a book. My mom had attended a farmer meeting where she learned about Farm Safety 4 Just Kids and heard Marilyn Adams’ story of losing her son on the farm. My mom loved her message, bought her book and shared that story with me.” Nicole, as an ambitious sophomore, thought farm safety would be the perfect topic for the FFA Greenhand Public Speaking Contest. “That book led me to eventually serve as a state officer, to major in agriculture and natural resources and to begin my career as a farm broadcaster.” 

About being a farm broadcaster, Nicole said, “Coming from a farm, I have so much pride in the agricultural industry. Getting to connect personally with so many in the farm community is such a blessing. I love being able to share the passion farmers have for their livelihoods as well as help them to better craft their message. Sometimes you have to interview someone who is not quite comfortable with a microphone in their face. Being patient, helping them relax and become relatable is something I never thought I would enjoy as much as I do.”