Amy Bagley named Farm Woman of the Year
With eight children, 12 grandchildren, beef and dairy cattle, a hay and barley farm, and a career as a second grade teacher, Amy Bagley doesn’t have much down time, and she seems to be okay with that.
Amy was chosen by the Teton County Farm Bureau as the 2020 Farm Woman of the Year, a long-running award given to women in the valley who are deeply involved in agriculture, family, and community. Every Farm Woman gets her own float in the Victor 4th of July parade, as well as recognition at the annual bureau banquet in November. The announcement is usually made sooner, but bureau board member Sue Allen said that without regular meetings this spring and with the cancellation of the parade, the pressure was off to name an awardee by early summer.
Amy was informed last week of her new title and expressed surprise at the award, but it’s in her blood; her mother Bonnie Nelson received the same recognition in 1989, and Amy even gave a speech at the presentation.
Amy’s favorite part of being a lifelong farmer is the opportunity to spend time out in nature and experience the seasons. She grew up with ten siblings in Clementsville, between Tetonia and Canyon Creek, where her family grew barley and potatoes. After her first year of college, at a young adult fireside Amy met Bruce Bagley, the youth representative for the whole stake. They were married in 1987 and settled on his family farm in Cedron, where his ancestors had homesteaded early in the 1900s.
“It seems like small family farms like this are going away,” Amy said of their cattle and grain operation. Not only do commodity prices always fluctuate, but it’s hard, unceasing work that keeps farmers close to home throughout the year. Fortunately with a large brood of kids, four of whom are married and four of whom are currently living at home, as well as enthusiastic young grandchildren, the Bagleys have a good workforce. Each Memorial Day weekend everyone gathers for cow and calf vaccinations; they call it their family work reunion.
“Everyone in the family knows how to do every job,” she said, noting that earlier that morning her husband baled hay while one son moved irrigation pipe and she and a daughter worked in the barn. “The kids have a great work ethic and they’re good people, which is all you can hope for when you raise them.”
Amy received a patriarchal blessing the directed her to pursue education, and started working as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional at the school district in 2008 when the recession took its toll on the farm and the family needed the additional income. In 2010 she went back to school for her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, driving every day to Rexburg to attend class at BYU-I. She has taught second grade at Driggs Elementary for seven years and now teaches the English side of the dual immersion program.
“I’ve always been kind of a teacher, with eight kids,” she added. “I really love kids, and the young ones are respectful and suck up learning like little sponges. They’re special, they’re our future. We teach them how to be good citizens.”
In the past Amy has helped organize field trips for her students to her dairy farm, the elk ranch next door, and the tree farm down the road.
“There have to be farms,” she said. “It’s good to educate kids about that, to help them realize a farm can be so many different things.”
While every farmer she knows is neck deep in work on his or her own land, they never hesitate to help if something breaks down or goes wrong.
“We support each other even though our lives are busy,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of farmers left but we know we can count on them.”
Somehow between farming and schooling, Amy finds time to go on horseback rides, read books (although not as many as she’d like), cook, and support her kids at their sporting events. Her youngest is just entering high school. The Bagleys used to participate in 4-H, until the summer of 2012 when, “the kids slammed us with weddings,” three in quick succession between July and August, with each reception held at the farm.
While she used to enjoy skiing, she hasn’t done so in years, not since she fractured her back after falling off a horse. Fortunately, she said, thanks to therapy she feels even stronger now than before the accident. Her faith anchors her, especially in difficult times like her recovery from the injury.
“We haven’t done it on our own,” she said. “Our Heavenly Father has helped us and brought us through a lot.”