Public Speaking Led Leal to Farm Broadcasting

Born and raised in the agriculture-rich community of Tulare, California, Danielle Leal (AgNet West) learned to appreciate the industry early in life. Her commute to grammar school was surrounded by fruit and nut orchards, corn fields, vineyards, and dairies. As a member of the Tulare Western High School FFA, she showed pigs at the Tulare County Fair, was an active part of the soils judging team, and served in a leadership position on her Greenhand officer team. Leal fell in love with public speaking after her FFA teacher and mentor, Kevin Koelewyn, encouraged her to compete in the Creed speaking contest. She came in second at her state competition, just missing the mark to take her to the National FFA Convention in 2007. Koelewyn instilled in her the confidence to use her voice as an advocate for all things she felt passionately for, including her love of Jesus, social issues, and agriculture. Little did she know that would be the beginning of her speaking career.

Leal went on to study broadcast journalism at Fresno State. While there, she was a key part of the Fresno State Focus broadcast team. Her dream was to anchor the local morning show and be in the homes of family and friends each morning with good news. After interning at KMPH Fox 26, she knew broadcasting was a perfect fit. She wasn’t quite ready, however, to gather her experience out of state and away from her family. So, she headed back to her roots to write for a hometown newspaper, The Visalia Times-Delta, where she covered several beats including business, local events, and agriculture.

Print journalism was a little out of her comfort zone, but knowing it wasn’t the end-all be-all (and her first full-time paying job), Leal kept at it. In 2018, she was on assignment covering the World Ag Expo in the backyard of her small town. After making her rounds and most likely washing down the famous Sundale ribeye sandwich smothered in BBQ sauce and caramelized onions with a Diet Dr. Pepper, she found herself networking with other journalists. Among those journalists were Taylor Hillman and Brian German of AgNet West Radio Network. A few short months later, she was able to call AgNet West family and tie all of her passions of speaking, agriculture, and good news into one career as a farm broadcaster.

Leal now hosts AgNet West Radio Network’s Farm City Newsday program. It’s an hour-long morning show on 14 stations, spanning 90 percent of the state of California. She primarily covers state-wide and national headlines as well as ag business. For those not tuning in as the sun rises, the morning show also isconverted into a podcast, which recently hit a major milestone of 1,000 episodes.

AgNet West is part of AgNet Media, which also operates farm news networks in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. AgNet West Radio Network has been covering news in the Golden State for nine years. Collectively the team covers farm and ranch headlines, specialty crop news, ag technology, statewide events, industry trends, and much more.

Though Leal wasn’t born into an agricultural family, she did fall in love with a farmer. Her husband Jordan’s family runs a diversified farming operation where they grow almonds and pistachios as well as alfalfa, corn, and wheat for their third-generation, 1,300-head Holstein dairy. When she isn’t reporting the news, Leal is busy chasing her 2-year-old son, Jude. With another baby on the way, that can be quite the calorie burner. Jude loves all the moving parts of their family’s ranch and can nearly always be found digging in a pile of dirt with his fleet of miniature John Deere tractors.

Leal is a member of the California Women for Agriculture organization. Also, she recently was nominated to serve on the board of directors for a non-profit organization called Tulare County Family Services. The group helps survivors of human trafficking and sexual assault with the county’s only domestic violence shelter, called Karen’s House. It also provides legal counseling and support services to prevent further violence.

If every day were a vacation, Leal would spend it tent camping in the Sierra National Forest filled with Jeep rides on old logging trails, creek fishing, and early morning coffee by the campfire. Since it’s not, she’ll also take a round of golf at the local course, a day deep sea fishing, attending a Los Angeles Dodgers game, or skeet shooting out on the ranch. Either way she loves spending time with family and friends and is extremely eager to get back to normalcy.

She is looking forward to in-person reporting in the field, at expos and conferences, including the 2021 NAFB Convention.

Bottom photo:  Danielle Leal, husband Jordan, and son Jude ride a tractor to travel from family alfalfa fields to their dairy farm in Tulare, California