Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Bivens
Posted: March 17, 2017
A seed isn’t just a seed – with the proper care over time it has the potential to grow and bear fruit. This sentiment rings true for this Month’s Alumni Spotlight – Ryan Bivens.
Growing up in Spencer County, Ryan wasn’t born into a farming family but dreamt from an early age of owning land and becoming a full-time farmer. Like many 4-H’ers, the road to reaching his dream began with the support and encouragement of an adult 4-H volunteer – his father. Ryan quickly found his passion for 4-H through the Tractor Safety program and competing in Tractors Skill Completions, where he would become a 2x Reserve Grand Champion at the Kentucky State Fair. Ryan also spent his summers at Lake Cumberland 4-H Camp, where he was able to learn and grow soft skills while developing the confidence necessary to pursue his dream.
“My time at summer camp allowed me to become more social and gave me the opportunity to make friends – friends that I still keep in contact with today.”
Upon graduating from Spencer County High School, Ryan attended the University of Kentucky where he pursued a degree in agriculture and more importantly, his future wife, Misty. Graduating in 2001, Ryan married Misty and shortly after achieve his dream of becoming a first generation farmer. Now, for those less familiar with farming, this is no small feat. With the average age of the American farmer steadily rising, the pursuit of the profession and success of individuals who do is becoming increasingly rare. New farmers must not only use their hands but their heads to achieve success.
“Participation in [4-H programs] taught me practical life skills that I may not have learned in school – how to maintain a record book, how to run a productive meeting… these skills I acquired as a 4-H’er were key to my growth, pursuit, and finally achieving my dream of becoming a full-time farmer.”
Today, Ryan and Misty along with their two sons, own and operate Fresh Start Farms in LaRue County. Their operation primarily raises corn, wheat, and soybeans across nearly 8,000 acres. To say Ryan has achieved his dream would be an understatement. In 2012, the Bivens family won Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family award, before going on to win the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award.
In addition to running Fresh Start, Ryan serves on the Kentucky State Fair Board (KSFB) where, along with fellow board members, he is tasked with oversight of the Kentucky International Convention Center and the Kentucky Exposition Centers. He views his position on the KSFB as an opportunity to share his passion for farming with Kentucky youth through education and exposure to the world of agriculture.
“My passion and desire to farm comes from the love I have for watching a tiny seed planted in the soil sprout from nothing to produce fruit.”
It’s Ryan’s willingness to see the potential in a seed and passion for nurturing it, that brings his journey full circle. As a volunteer and parent of two 4-H’ers, Ryan is following in the footsteps of his father by nurturing and teaching youth the skills they need to grow into true leaders. The Kentucky 4-H Foundation is proud to count Ryan as a Kentucky 4-H Alumni, and thanks him for his dedication to the success of Kentucky 4-H!
If you know any outstanding 4-H alumni members and want to have his or her story shared, be sure to nominate them for our Alumni Spotlight. You can nominate them by sending a brief email highlighting his or her involvement and contributions to Kentucky 4-H, as well as his or her contact information to Ben Carr, firstname.lastname@example.org.