PERSONAL JOURNEY: Military skills become key asset on the farm

A Navy Veteran returns to the family farm.

Joe Everett, who grew up on a family farm in Sidney near the Miami County Line, said he knew from a young age that he would eventually be a farmer.

“I started farming when I was little,” Everett said. “My folks took me out of school to help out with the farm and I knew it was what I would always do. I just didn’t know exactly how it was going to happen.”

Everett’s family didn’t discourage him, but they didn’t pressure him either, telling him that the farm would be there for him no matter what he chose, while very much giving him that choice. Everett said his father thought he might go to college, but instead, he enlisted in the Navy after graduating high school in 2010.

“I served six years and worked on two different aircraft carriers,” Everett said.

Serving as an electronics technician on board the USS George Washington and USS Theodore Roosevelt, Everett was also stationed in Virginia for four years. He didn’t know at the time how the skills he learned in the Navy would come in handy on the farm one day.

“I got a call from my dad while I was still in the Navy and he told me they were making some adjustments to the farm and they needed to know if I was going to come back home,” Everett said.

With his father, Jon Everett, and uncle, Tim Everett, getting older, they wanted Everett Farms, Inc. to go on and they needed the younger Everett to help them plan. He said it was at that moment he knew that he’d return to the farm.

The Everett farm was started by his grandfather, who began with 250 acres. When Everett returned to Ohio in 2016 to take over operations along with his cousin, Tyler Everett, the farm had grown to 2,100 acres.

“I’m farming full time now,” Everett . “The biggest growth we’ve seen is the technology.”

Everett turned to skills he learned while in the Navy to help keep his family farm up to date with technological advancements.

“All our equipment now runs off satellite and GPS,” Everett said. “You don’t even need to steer, and it makes things a lot easier.”

Once he became immersed in the farming business full time, he decided he wanted to learn as much as he could about modern farming. His time in the Navy qualified him for tuition assistance through the GI Bill. He started classes virtually while still in the Navy.

“I finished my degree in electronics studies and then finished my bachelor’s degree in 2019 from Bluffton University,” Everett said.

With some GI Bill money left, he decided to get his MBA and graduated in 2021 with a focus on organizational management.

Everett said technology has enhanced his own family farm and has made a big difference and has changed the way people farm across the nation and around the world.

“When my grandpa started the farm, it took him a long time to do anything,” Everett said. “Now we don’t need as many people, and we can cover a lot more acres over a shorter period of time.”

Like most Ohio family farms, the Everett farm grows corn and soybeans. Most of the corn is sold to larger product manufacturers like Cargill, Inc. in Dayton. The farm’s soybeans go to Cargill in Sidney. Today Everett Farms is a 4,000-acre operation.

Everett attributes part of his family farm’s success to Brian Reithman, a financial officer with Farm Credit Mid-America. Having worked with Everett’s family for more than 10 years, Reithman has become a friend and advisor.

Everett met his wife Casey while still in the navy and she moved to Ohio with him to raise their future family on the farm. The couple has two children, Addison, 3 and Brooks, 1.

“I love the work ethic farming teaches kids,” Everett said. “I feel like it’s a lot of hard work and you are happy when you make money, but it’s not everything.”

Everett’s dad and uncle remain involved and continue to work alongside their two sons. And when Everett is asked what he does for a living?

“I’m proud to say I’m a farmer,” Everett said. “I really hate to see people getting out of farming because when I look back at the life it’s given me, that’s what I want for my kids.”

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