As a product of her environment, Donna Jo Curtis is proud to carry on the legacy that was handed to her.
Her family’s farming heritage inspired her career in agriculture and prepared her to eventually run a cattle ranch of her own. After 35 years of running Curtis Farms and serving Alabama’s agriculture industry in various roles, Donna Jo Curtis has been named a 2022 Woman of Impact.
It all stems from a “love of being outside” said Curtis.
“Growing up on a farm, we didn’t hire outside help, it was the family that did everything,” she said. “I was driving a tractor before I was 13 and was always empowered to do things myself. My dad never treated me any different than he did my brother.”
This upbringing is what inspired Curtis to pursue a career as an agriculture teacher, but quickly turned into “following in her family’s footsteps” with a farm of her own.
Curtis met her husband and they began growing their family in the middle of running a farm.
“I would literally strap car seats to the back of four-wheelers to go check on the cows,” she said. Now, with 150 female cows, the cattle rancher’s children are also following in her footsteps.
Curtis found the agricultural community in Alabama to be “so supportive and encouraging.” With a passion for adding value back to the community, Curtis was elected vice president of the county’s Cattlemen’s Association and, in 2012, became the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association second female president.
She said one of her greatest honors was becoming the regional vice president of the National Beef Cattlemen’s Association. She was also asked to serve on the Federal Reserve Ag Advisory Board for the Southeast region. On this board, all sectors are represented from beef to citrus produce, to spring water, rice, crawfish, cattle and even barge companies.
Curtis said the exposure to all of the different businesses further deepened her belief that “everything connects back to agriculture.”
“Agriculture is involved in every kind of business in a round-about way,” she said. “None of it is wasted. Parts we don’t eat are sent to other countries, parts of it are used in asphalt, makeup, insulin, and used adhesive.”
Curtis has spent her life being good to the land and wants others to do the same.
“God’s gift is everything here and our job is to take care of it,” she said.
Through her time educating the public and inspiring young farmers, she is a 2022 Woman of Impact.