Kerri Bell: Farming is Family

By Kerri Bell

Kerri Bell and her family - a husband and two daughters - smile for a family photo in the entrance of a farm storage shed.
Kerri Bell and her husband, Lance, have enjoyed watching her twin daughters grow into ag professionals.

My name is Kerri Bell, and I am a fourth-generation farmer. My husband, Lance, and I have a diversified crop farm near Keota in southeast Iowa. We raise corn, soybeans, cover crops, and alfalfa, and have a crossbred cow calf operation with our twin daughters, Ellie and Sophie – both are 2023 ISU College of Agriculture graduates with careers on and off the farm. 

Lance began farming with his parents when he returned from Ames after completing his farm operations program at ISU. I graduated from the University of Iowa College of Education and have been teaching for 29 years – 27 of which have been as a second grade teacher at Mid-Prairie East Elementary. 

It’s so rewarding to share my passion for agriculture in my classroom. 

Like Lance, I must prepare for and plant my “crop” (of students) so they can grow. Whereas I plant in the fall and harvest in the spring, Lance does the opposite. We both put in countless hours, giving our best as we are passionate about our careers. It’s a give-and-take – my family helps me with special projects, and I help them however I can when they need extra hands. 

After the girls were born, it wasn’t long before their love of farming became evident – just like their dad and grandpa. Soon, they were driving equipment, filling the planter, calculating chemical formulas and making decisions to move us forward. 

Our love of the land has kept us improving how we operate to be as efficient as possible while working to conserve our natural resources for the future. 

Growing up, I wasn’t afraid to get dirty and help inside and outside on the farm. I was in 4-H for nine years and was actively involved in FFA, where I earned the highest award available: the American Farmer Degree (as it was known then). Those experiences allowed me to share my passion for agriculture and gain confidence in myself – shaping who I am today. 

Ellie and Sophie were eager to join 4-H, just like their parents, grandparents and great grandparents had been many years ago. From kindergarten on, they tried new projects, held leadership roles and made the best even better in their time with 4-H. We couldn’t be prouder of their experiences and the countless memories we made together as a family. 

Time will tell if they choose to be on the Washington County Extension Council and Washington County 4-H Youth Committee, as I had been during their years in 4-H. Or, maybe they’ll be 4-H judges at the local, county and state levels, as I have been for the past 34 years. 

FFA is where the girls found their true passion for agriculture. Like me, they were hooked from day one. Not only did they take part in contests, participate in programs, serve on committees, and hold officer positions – they also discovered a career path back to the farm. 

There’s nothing better than learning from your children as they pursue their passions and push our family operation forward. 

We believe it’s important to give back and share your voice, no matter your career path. Along with 4-H and FFA, our family has been involved with the Iowa Corn Growers Association and Iowa Soybean Association at the local, district, state and national levels, as well as the West Chester Lions Club and our church. I also volunteer with CommonGround Iowa, working with farm women to educate consumers about where our food comes from. 

When you love what you do, farming isn’t a job – it’s a way of life! 

We are proud to grow crops and raise livestock, providing consumers with food, fuel, feed and fiber.