Brunswick Hills, Ohio. The number of farms in the United States continues to decline.
There were two million farms in 2022, up from 2.2 million in 2007, according to the USDA.
But one teenager in Northeast Ohio is helping to change the game by learning about farming and encouraging the younger generation to embrace the industry and all it has to offer.
Pulling bales of hay on a tractor, grooming and letting horses out to stretch their legs, and cleaning countless animal pens are truly the daily chores of Brunswick High School student Naomi Kirkland.
“I was so excited. I knew I wanted to work here for a while, and after the first day, I thought, when can I come back?” Kirkland said.
Kirkland has been coming back almost every day for the past two years in a row.
When she’s not in class, the 17-year-old gets some serious attention every week at Spring Mist Farms in Brunswick Hills.
Her commitment is clear.
“I do morning and night work. So on weekends it’s morning work. Night work during the week,” Kirkland said.
Spring Mist operates as an affectionate educational farm, attracting cross-generational visitors.
Kirkland loves the experience and constantly faces environmental challenges.
“It’s like learning another language with animals, and you never really master it,” Kirkland said.
Farm work has been in Kirkland’s blood for as long as she can remember.
Her mother worked here a few years ago and she has been coming here since she was little.
Kirkland’s boss and co-owner of Spring Mist, Howard Goodyear, saw firsthand her dedication and commitment.
“She could be trusted. She was just a really good fit and she really liked livestock,” Goodyear said.
Kirkland says it was a learning experience through and through.
She is modest and appreciative, hoping that others will consider following her path and risk what some see as an out-of-the-box performance for a teenager.
“I definitely had to learn to be patient. I definitely learned to work on myself, and I realized that I love hard work, ”said Kirkland.
“She is always ready to go forward. Ready to get as dirty as she needs,” said Goodyear.
For more information on Spring Mist Farms click here.